What’s a structural battery, and why is it such a big deal? The term refers to an energy storage device that can also bear weight as part of a structure—like if the studs in your home were all batteries, or if an electric fence also held up a wall.
In the new paper, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden reveal how their “massless” structural battery works.
To make the new structural battery, the scientists layered a buffer glass “fabric” between a positive and negative electrode, then packed it with a space-age polymer electrolyte and cured it in the oven. What results is a tough, flat battery cell that conducts well and holds up to tensile tests in all directions.
The main use case is for electric cars, where a literally massive amount of batteries take up a ton of room and don’t contribute to the actual structure of the car. In fact, these cars must be specially designed to carry the mass of the batteries. But what if the frame of the car could hold energy? “Due to their multifunctionality, structural battery composites are often referred to as ‘massless energy storage’ and have the potential to revolutionize the future design of electric vehicles and devices,” the researchers explain.
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