Energy Storing Panels a Rising Trend
While electric automobiles have been around for decades now, their lack of speed and endurance has meant that they haven’t quite caught on as well as their gas-guzzling counterparts. While very few auto mechanic courses offer information and training on electric vehicles, this could all change wildly in the coming years, as new technology makes electric vehicles cheaper and more efficient.
There is a new trend that’s seeing auto body manufacturers look towards using the bodies of the cars themselves as a way to store energy. By using the body panels of the automobile, scientists and engineers believe that they have found a solution to those big, hulking and cumbersome battery packs. Even with developments in battery efficiency from using sources like lithium-ion, battery packs in electric vehicles are still one of the biggest drawbacks. They are notoriously heavy, cumbersome and finicky.
The idea is that the panels are composed of a sleek carbon fibre which houses nano-batteries and super capacitors – essentially super teeny-tiny batteries. The energy storing devices are incorporated into the carbon fibre panels with a special kind of resin. The idea is that the process will eventually be no more complicated than traditional automotive painting. Not only is the supposed technology lighter and most efficient than traditional batteries, but it’s also lighter and more efficient than the material we use to build regular auto body panels today!
Energy storing panels aren’t just limited to electric vehicles, though. The idea is that even traditional gas powered vehicles can incorporate the energy storing panels into their design and eliminate the need for traditional batteries, saving drivers a lot of headaches. When the technology is finally rolled out, it should be easy enough for any auto mechanic to implement.
The auto manufacturer that’s at the forefront of developing this technology is Volvo, who three years ago began a research partnership with the European Union and London’s Imperial College to develop the concept.
Volvo has been experimenting with the concept of energy saving panels, incorporating them into the intake manifold cover and trunk lid on a new, experimental S80 sedan. Volvo says that the incorporation of energy saving panels into the car reduces the weight of traditional electric vehicles by up to 15%. That’s a weight reduction of around 500 pounds for a Volvo sedan.
Another automotive company that’s on the cutting edge of research into more efficient and lightweight electric vehicles is Toyota. Toyota announced plans that they would be researching not only panels that stored energy, but also solar panels that actually capture energy from the sun and store it in the panels as well.
However, like all experiments in the automobile industry, it remains to be seen whether this technology will make it out of the lab and on to the production line anytime soon. Even if the technology does prove to be effective and viable, there’s still the matter of bringing the cost down effectively enough so that it could be affordable on a consumer level.
Regardless, it seems that we’re making great strides in the area of electric vehicles, and well on our way to more efficient and environmentally friendly driving.