Big breakthrough for ‘massless’ energy storage – aka structural batteries

Posted: March 25, 2021 by oldbrew in Batteries, innovation
Tags: ,
Struc_batt

Schematic of a laminated structural battery cell containing carbon fiber electrodes and a structural battery electrolyte [image credit: Quay2021 @ Wikipedia]

Another day, another battery ‘breakthrough’, you may be thinking. The idea being to make the battery part of the device itself, rather than being inserted into it. Tesla has already designed its own version of the idea.
– – –
Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology have produced a structural battery that performs ten times better than all previous versions, says TechXplore.

It contains carbon fiber that serves simultaneously as an electrode, conductor, and load-bearing material.

Their latest research breakthrough paves the way for essentially ‘massless’ energy storage in vehicles and other technology.

The batteries in today’s electric cars constitute a large part of the vehicles’ weight, without fulfilling any load-bearing function.

A structural battery, on the other hand, is one that works as both a power source and as part of the structure—for example, in a car body.

This is termed ‘massless’ energy storage, because in essence the battery’s weight vanishes when it becomes part of the load-bearing structure. Calculations show that this type of multifunctional battery could greatly reduce the weight of an electric vehicle.

The development of structural batteries at Chalmers University of Technology has proceeded through many years of research, including previous discoveries involving certain types of carbon fiber.

In addition to being stiff and strong, they also have a good ability to store electrical energy chemically. This work was named by Physics World as one of 2018’s ten biggest scientific breakthroughs.

The first attempt to make a structural battery was made as early as 2007, but it has so far proven difficult to manufacture batteries with both good electrical and mechanical properties.

But now the development has taken a real step forward, with researchers from Chalmers, in collaboration with KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, presenting a structural battery with properties that far exceed anything yet seen, in terms of electrical energy storage, stiffness and strength. Its multifunctional performance is ten times higher than previous structural battery prototypes.

The battery has an energy density of 24 Wh/kg, meaning approximately 20 percent capacity compared to comparable lithium-ion batteries currently available.

But since the weight of the vehicles can be greatly reduced, less energy will be required to drive an electric car, for example, and lower energy density also results in increased safety. And with a stiffness of 25 GPa, the structural battery can really compete with many other commonly used construction materials.

“Previous attempts to make structural batteries have resulted in cells with either good mechanical properties, or good electrical properties. But here, using carbon fiber, we have succeeded in designing a structural battery with both competitive energy storage capacity and rigidity,” explains Leif Asp, Professor at Chalmers and leader of the project.

Continued here.

Comments
  1. MatrixTransform says:

    sounds like excellent news for Cyberdyne Systems

  2. Structural Batteries sound like a good idea.

    Have you ever been around a battery explosion? A nine volt battery in a postal scale exploded in my office a year or so ago. The nine volt battery is six one and a half volt batteries in the nine volt package. Only one of the AAA batteries exploded, do not know why, the scale was damaged and never worked again. Could structural damage short out a structural battery, could it explode? Has this been considered? Possibly, people in such a vehicle should have protective structure, I will be interested to see how this plays out.

    Alex Pope

    On Thu, Mar 25, 2021 at 2:47 PM Tallbloke’s Talkshop wrote:

    > oldbrew posted: ” Another day, another battery ‘breakthrough’, you may be > thinking. The idea being to make the battery part of the device itself, > rather than being inserted into it. Tesla has already designed its own > version of the idea.- – -Researchers from Chalmers Univ” >

  3. ivan says:

    Interesting. If the battery becomes part of the car structure do you throw away the whole car when the battery stops taking a charge? Rather expensive I would think.

    The one thing all these battery ides fall down on – where is the electricity coming from to charge them? Don’t say renewable sources, ask Texas and California about that especially in winter.

    I suppose we should give them an E for effort in getting funds for ‘research’.

  4. JB says:

    “lower energy density also results in increased safety”
    and lower energy results in a total range of…

    MORE MILES/CHARGE, please, if this is going to be made to work.

  5. Phoenix44 says:

    Does that mean that what might be small damage to a car normally will render it inoperative?

  6. oldbrew says:

    Tesla’s structural battery design. The battery cells are loaded into the tubes.

    ‘Musk claims that Tesla designed crash absorption rails that can be cut off and repaired to preserve the packs.’
    https://electrek.co/2021/01/19/tesla-structural-battery-pack-first-picture/


    – – –
    From our blog article:
    “The next generation structural battery has fantastic potential. If you look at consumer technology, it could be quite possible within a few years to manufacture smartphones, laptops or electric bicycles that weigh half as much as today and are much more compact,” says Leif Asp.

  7. oldbrew says:

    MARCH 25, 2021
    Design could enable longer lasting, more powerful lithium batteries
    — Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Because this is essentially a “drop in” replacement for an existing electrolyte and doesn’t require redesign of the entire battery system, Li says, it could be implemented quickly and could be commercialized within a couple of years. “There’s no expensive elements, it’s just carbon and fluorine. So it’s not limited by resources, it’s just the process,” he says.

    https://techxplore.com/news/2021-03-enable-longer-powerful-lithium-batteries.html

  8. Gamecock says:

    ‘The battery has an energy density of 24 Wh/kg, meaning approximately 20 percent capacity compared to comparable lithium-ion batteries currently available.

    But since the weight of the vehicles can be greatly reduced’

    A Tesla battery is a big hunk. Making a battery 5 TIMES larger is going to be a really, really big hunk. So large, I can’t conceive of a vehicle smaller than a double-decker that could use one, even if integrated into the structure of the vehicle.

    You can make a floor with this device, ostensibly. Can you make doors? A bonnet? Can you shape it into other structures and still have it function as a battery? Can it be placed on its side?

    If just the floor, it will need to be 2 feet thick.

    I have to admit, this ‘breakthrough’ seems more plausible than others, but it’s too early to call if it is actually going to be viable.

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