Electric cars could store energy in their carbon fiber bodies

You might not need a big, heavy battery to power an EV.

Electric cars typically need larger, denser batteries if they're going
to meet the range expectations of people used to gas-powered vehicles,
but available space and weight limit the size of that battery.
Researchers might have a solution: turn the very body of the car into a
battery. They've conducted a study showing that carbon fiber shells
could serve as battery electrodes. The trick is to optimize the size and
orientation of the fibers so there's a good balance between stiffness
and the electrochemical traits needed to store energy.

While the carbon fiber with battery-friendly characteristics is slightly
stronger than steel, the scientists believed companies might need
thicker layers to make up for the difference. However, that might be
worthwhile. If a vehicle shell could collect, conduct and store energy,
it could reduce the weight "up to" 50 percent, Chalmers professor Leif
Asp said.

There's a catch, though: even in its existing form, carbon fiber is
expensive. While it's becoming more common, you still tend to see it in
sports cars (plus some EVs) where price isn't as important as low weight
and raw performance. EV makers might have to use carbon fiber sparingly
if they want to provide the benefits of that battery storage without
ridiculously high prices.


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