It could revolutionize electric vehicles and aircraft.
In groundbreaking new research, scientists have made a structural battery 10 times better than in any previous experiment. 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. 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.
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, reports Popular Mechanics.
The battery’s combined qualities make it 10 times better than any previous massless battery.
One of the most exciting potential uses is in aircraft, which scientists are struggling to turn electric because of the huge weight of existing battery tech. Regular airplanes as well as vertical take off and landing vehicles could turn electric by using massless batteries.