Carbon fiber is one of the most recognizable materials with incredible lightness and strength, so it is used by bicycles to the most advanced cars and aircraft production. Can carbon fibers bring even more benefits and play an important role in protecting energy? One team of scientists has explored such carbon loading capabilities and states that carefully selected materials are truly an electrochemical property and in practice the entire car would become a battery.
Professor Leif Asp with a coil surrounded by a new carbon fiber thread
© Johan Bodell | Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
The study was conducted at the University of Technology Chalmers in Sweden and all started from pretty simple assumptions. Mechanical properties of carbon fibers are already well known, and its use as an electrode exhibits good potential in experimental accumulators. Why not combine these two features into one?
Coal fibers used for structural purposes are usually produced in such a way as to be as potent as possible and do not pay much attention to electrochemical properties. However, it is clear that carbon fibers with good electrochemical properties typically have significantly lower strength parameters.
Therefore, scientists did not investigate, and researchers sought to find carbon fibers that would meet both conditions. This means that it was necessary to explore the microstructure of various types of commercially available carbon fibers and see how the material crystals (particles) are and what size they are.
Researchers have found that carbon fibers with higher hardness are larger and more oriented, while fewer solid carbon fiber crystals, on the contrary, are smaller and less orientated.
Researchers are looking for a large body of body and aviation bodies to be made of structural lithium-ion batteries. Multifunctional carbon fiber would act as a battery of electrodes and at the same time would be part of the body as it has so far
© Yen Strandqvist | Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
According to scientists, this new knowledge will provide a basis for the emergence of carbon fibers entering this narrow area, which provides useful electrochemical properties and maintains the required strength of the material. According to research author Leif Aspas, it is now possible to make this material commercially attractive.
"Now we know how multi-purpose carbon fibers need to be achieved in order to achieve high storage capacity while maintaining the strength of the material," says Aspas. – Slight reduction in the strength of materials in many areas, such as cars, is not a big problem. At present, expensive carbon fiber composites are dominated, whose power is adapted to use the aircraft. As a result, carbon fiber manufacturers continue to have a number of opportunities for expanding the use of carbon fibers. "
Since the weight of the material is so important for car manufacturing – especially with regard to fuel efficiency – scientists already have ideas on how new material can become part of the energy system. Researchers are already working with automotive and aviation industry representatives to explore the potential of these "structural batteries".
"The body of the car would not be an easy and inseparable element, but it would act as a battery," says Aspas. – In addition, carbon fibers can be used for other purposes such as: collecting kinetic energy, sensors or energy and data guides. If all these functions were in the car and aircraft cabin, they could reduce their weight by up to 50%. "
Asp says it is "the main thing to optimize systems at the system level – in terms of weight, rigidity, rigidity and electrochemistry." This is a completely new approach to the automotive sector that tends to optimize certain components. they can become a part of the overall system and bring significant benefits. Additionally, structural batteries would have a lower energy density and would be safer than standard batteries and unavoidable materials. "
The results of the research were published in the journal "Multifunctional Materials".