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2014-07-04

Battery material could reduce electric car weight



Woven carbon fibre can act as an electrode for lithium ion batteries.(Photo: Peter Larsson)

Battery weight has long vexed engineers designing electric cars for the mass market. Bigger batteries are needed to power a car for longer distances, but their weight in turn requires the car to expend more energy.
But what if the body of the car itself was a battery?
Researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology have found a promising solution with carbon fibre. Carbon fibre can fill two functions in an electric car: as a lightweight composite reinforcement material for the carís body, and as an active electrode in lithium ion batteries. The objective of the research was to develop a structural battery consisting of multifunctional lightweight materials that simultaneously manage mechanical loads, and store electrical energy.
Carbon fibre offers a viable alternative to graphite. Lithium can be inserted into the carbon fibre microstructure and the carbon fibre acts as a good conductor. The carbon fibre which the KTH researchers have worked with is very light and has a continuous structure and excellent mechanical properties.
The project is done in cooperation with Swerea SICOMP and LuleŚ Insitute of Technology, Sweden.