by Alex A. Kecskes
Most hybrid and fully electric cars have powerful batteries that unfortunately are big and bulky and eat up lots of space.
Scientists have a solution: use other parts of the car for energy storage. What parts? Doors, hoods and roofs. These areas could serve as giant capacitors, allowing the batteries that cars need to shrink in size and weight. More stored energy means more driving range, something that hybrids and electrics are always trying to increase.
Researchers at Imperial College London are working on lightweight auto body components that can store electricity. By doping the resin that binds the car’s carbon fiber-reinforced frame with lithium ions, the car’s frame can be used to store electricity.
Scientists and engineers are constantly having to choose between the size and weight of the battery and its driving range. Bigger, more powerful batteries extend a car’s range, but the added weight robs energy, nullifying the added boost in power. High-efficiency lightweight batteries are needed, but until those are developed and tested, other power saving methods can be employed.
While capacitor car parts add little energy, they can take the load off a battery, providing the extra boost needed to get a car rolling from a standstill at a red light. Prototype electric cars with a capacitor integrated into a carbon-fiber roof, doors or hood could reduce overall vehicle weight and add to a car’s range.
For an added perspective, check out this video:
Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients. Please see more of his blogs and view additional job postings on Nexxt.