Structural Battery Breakthrough

Chalmer’s University. ​Illustration: Yen Strandqvist.

Chalmers University researchers have created a really useful battery. Called a “structural battery,” these types of batteries are so unique because they are able to be used in the core construction of structures and vehicles and are able to support the weight. Why is this cool and unique? Current batteries used in cars, for instance, are just sitting on top of the car’s existing metal frame. If a car was constructed using structural batteries, the frame itself becomes the battery. This likely has a huge impact on vehicle and industrial design. You don’t have to worry about carrying the huge extra weight on the frame or worry about batteries needing extra protection against trauma. This also means the elusive dream of an electric airplane is a lot more feasible. With normal batteries, it really offsets a lot of the benefits of running a plane using just electricity, due to the huge weight of the batteries required.

Chalmer’s University

The researchers’ team battery is about 10 times better in terms of energy storage than what was previously obtainable in a structural battery. They claim the energy density is about 24 Wh/kg, which is around 20 percent of the capacity of a normal lithium-ion battery. Not that great sounding at first, but this will still greatly reduce the amount of extra weight that needs to be carried in vehicles. The researchers also say they already know ways to improve the battery past this initial proof of concept by using materials such as carbon fiber in the battery construction.

Personally, I love reading about breakthroughs like this. I’m concerned about our planet’s energy future and this type of battery definitely sounds like a part of the solution to move towards more sustainable power sources. While I say that, every time I read about a new battery breakthrough (such as previous announcements regarding ultra-fast charging solid-state batteries), the articles usually leave out the downsides to the tech that basically makes it unusable at scale. I’m really hoping this case is the real deal.

Read more about the breakthrough here on the Chalmer’s University website.

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