Electric vehicles are finally starting to make a splash in the auto industry, but it’s taken a long time, and there has been a lot of resistance by consumers along the way.
A lot of that resistance relates to the EV’s battery. They simply haven’t evolved as fast as we’d all like, and while they certainly have made strides through the years, it’s still the main reason the EV finds itself in a niche market today. They get damaged, they’re heavy, and they’re expensive and environmentally unfriendly. And at the end of the day, they don’t hold as much energy as us drivers demand.
But a new approach will change all that. Using nanotechnology, researchers have cracked the code on the EV market. This new concept doesn’t use a battery pack at all. It’s an outside-the-box method that uses microscopic components to develop a new battery technology that replaces a vehicle’s existing body panels and incorporates battery technology into the car body.
I know it’s a bit of a head scratcher, but that’s what a project funded by the European Union and headed by London’s Imperial College is in the process of developing.
Nanotechnology itself isn’t a new concept, but manipulating atoms and molecules for a car and having success with it? That would revolutionize the EV market.
EVs of tomorrow could have plenty of trunk space, be lighter in weight, and have a much improved performance base. And it’s all because of the battery.
EV improvements that have been made in recent memory aren’t because of battery technology at all. Advances have come more from manufacturers playing around with aerodynamics and weight efficiencies. Then we’re still left with the same gaudy battery pack sitting in our trunk.
One company is emerging as a leading manufacturer as part of the research and is testing this technology.
Volvo (OTC: VOLVY) is putting its S80 sedan through rigorous testing as we speak. That model is being used to break serious ground in the EV marketplace and make your heavy, cumbersome battery pack of today a thing of the past.
The Swedish car maker has been part of the European Union project since its inception three and a half years ago to develop a new material – composed of carbon fiber, nano-structured batteries, and supercapacitors – all put together to take shape of body panels to fit a car.
Reportedly, this new nano-infused battery design is flexible and lightweight. And what makes this new technology extraordinary is that it not only stores electrical energy, but it also uses lighter components than modern pieces used in auto manufacturing. Lighter is faster – and you can use that for any type of vehicle.
The main objective: to reduce the size, weight, and cost of the current EV battery without any loss to a vehicle’s efficiency or performance.
If testing pans out, that’s what will happen…and then some.
Like a conventional EV battery, the new super nano-battery can be fully charged via the power grid or while en route via regenerative braking.
Volvo also claims that this new battery can charge faster than a traditional battery.
The Volvo S80 seda uses this technology to form the car’s trunk lid and cover for the vehicle’s engine compartment, according to Forbes. If the technology were used more extensively – a car’s roof, hood, and doors – it would create a 15 percent weight reduction and power a midsize car for roughly 80 miles on a single charge.
As exciting as this new battery technology sounds, who knows when we’ll see something like this commercially. It’s possible that we could even see some of its components pop up on an internal combustion engine-powered car before it’s ready for an EV. But undoubtedly, this is a major step forward in the development of the EV battery.
You have to wonder where they will find flaws with this. It seems too good to be true. Either way, many eyes are on Volvo to see how it plays out.
It still seems like a science project to me, but it’s definitely intriguing. How far away is something like this, really? It can’t be soon, but if Volvo is already testing it… Who knows?
All I know is that if you’re manipulating entire structures and panels of cars, there will be no end in sight for all the crash tests it’s going to have to go through.
But this could be a real life game changer one day, especially if it proves to be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than what we use today.
And the fact that this technology can completely bypass the EV market and jump right into the driver’s seat of our combustible engine vehicles makes it that much more attractive.
I know we’ll have our eye on Volvo.