Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Car bodywork could double up as battery


The prototype material would mean electric cars do not need to be charged so often

A car battery could one day be contained in the vehicle's roof, bonnet or even door.Researchers from Imperial College have created a prototype material which can not only store and discharge electrical energy, but which is also strong and lightweight enough to be used for car parts.

Developed during a three-year research project costing €3.4 million (£2 million), the material is aimed at making hybrid petrol/electric vehicles lighter, more compact and more energy efficient.

The development comes as environmental campaigners warn that electric cars might not be as energy efficient as once believed, and that the cars must be backed by "smart" power networks if they are to help the world's climate problems.

However, the future applications for the new composite material - which has been patented by Imperial - do not end with cars.

As project coordinator Dr Emile Greenhalgh, from Imperial's department of aeronautics, explained: "You might have a mobile phone that is as thin as a credit card because it no longer needs a bulky battery, or a laptop that can draw energy from its casing so it can run for a longer time without recharging."

source: sidewaysnews