Composite Fuselage as “Batteries?”
A June 6, 2011, article in the New York Times reported that researchers
at Imperial College London, the Swedish Institute of Composites, and
Volvo are looking to build auto bodies with carbon composites that
can serve as capacitors (devices that hold an electrical charge) that could store
more electrical energy than batteries. The dual-function materials could also
make electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles lighter.
To enable the composite materials to store electricity, the resin that binds
the carbon fibers is laced with lithium ions; the fibers serve as conductive electrodes
for this type of charge-holding capacitor.
At present, the research teams have a distance to go to gain such efficiencies.
The work continues and funding appears secure.
If future composite structures could store energy as efficiently as lithium-ion
batteries, an electric vehicle would require only the roof, hood, and trunk lid to
be made of such materials to achieve an 80-mile range, researchers said.
If such developments can be applied to airplane fuselage composites, well…
we’ll have a new ballgame to play. This stuff may be in the not-so-far-off future,
and the benefits could be enormous.