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Cars Niti Chuysakul / Shutterstock.com

Published on October 23rd, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown

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Volvo Integrates Energy Storage Into Hybrid Vehicle Body



Years ago, I saw that Volvo, a Swedish car manufacturer, was working on the concept of  integrating energy storage into the body panels of electric vehicles. I don’t know if this is the same project, but it may be.

Volvo develops its technologies rather discreetly, but it has now gotten to a stage where it has decided it is time to reveal this innovative technology, which it co-developed with nine other parties (not vehicle manufacturers). The new concept, which was developed over a period of three years, involves the use of lightweight composite materials to build certain vehicle parts that can double as energy storage for a Volvo S80 sedan.

Volvo S80 - Front

Volvo S80 via Niti Chuysakul / Shutterstock.com


For example, Volvo used these materials to create an intake plenum cover (intake manifold cover) and a boot lid (trunk lid) which store energy. It says that the trunk lid stores enough energy to facilitate removal of the car’s standard batteries.

As for the intake plenum cover, it says that it can supply power to the car’s 12 volt electrical system. The material can also be moulded and formed to replace various parts. The intake plenum cover mentioned above is one of them.

A 15% overall reduction in vehicle weight is expected from this project if applied to electric cars. That translates to a kerb weight reduction of 522 pounds (237 kg) for an entry-level Volvo S80. The test car is charged via regenerative braking, and it can be plugged in.

This European Union-funded project sounds awfully clever, and potentially sleek! Could this research inspire people to do other things such as make cellphone cases out of energy storage material? Who knows?

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.



  • Harald Thingelstad

    Plastic batteries come to mind. They’ve existed in labs for years, but has been very difficult to mass-produce. They can be produced in all shapes and sizes.
    Are they finally coming close to mass production?

  • jburt56

    You’ll probably see it emerging in aerospace with electric planes and drones.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    Very interesting. Not sure about the car space being right for this product. This seems more appropriate for the electronics world where size matters and money doesn’t. There replacing the case of say a smart phone or tablet with a “battery case” would free up lots of room.

    • Matt

      Would agree, except for that >500lb weight savings, that is big.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        I wrote that 500lbs off as being propaganda. The article is about the http://www.volvocars.com/us/all-cars/volvo-s80/Pages/default.aspx which has a battery. The 15% was for the reduction in a EV which the s80 is not. The Tesla is about the only EV of any significance available today. Say it weighs 5k. That would be a 750lb reduction. However I don’t believe these batteries would weigh less than the LH batteries. If these new batteries are part of the structure would the structure be safe? Currently the Tesla structure is made of stamped aluminum. The center of gravity would no longer be low. Also the structure of the car, all that surface area, is subject to extreme temperatures. Batteries need room temperatures with little temperature deviation. Then do you want to be replacing your cars structure every ten years? Or when you get a minor fender bender? And the weight of a Tesla would probably go up by 15% rather than down because it’s current aluminum structure holding LH batteries is very light. I like the technology offered here but the 500lbs is purely propaganda. There are other markets though that this technology will disrupt.

        • brink

          conjecture on your part

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Yes, but my conjecture is better than the authors. Notice how the author switched from talking about EVs to ICE vehicles and didn’t even realize it. Quoting the author:

            “A 15% overall reduction in vehicle weight is expected from this project if applied to electric cars. That translates to a kerb weight reduction of 522 pounds (237 kg) for an entry-level Volvo S80.”

            Then think about how removing the battery and alternator on the Volvo S80 could possibly amount to 522 pounds.

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