Materials that do not contribute to load-carrying capacity are structurally parasitic. The focus of STORAGE was energy storage. Conventional design attempts to maximise the efficiency of individual subcomponents. A different approach is to create novel, multi-functional materials that simultaneously perform more than one function, thus offering significant savings in mass and volume, or offering performance benefits.
The versatility of polymer composites means that they provide an ideal opportunity to develop novel multifunctional materials which can store the electrical energy required to power systems, whilst meeting the demands of the mechanical loading. Carbon fibre composites are attractive as they are commonly used as both electrodes and high performance reinforcements. Previous work demonstrated that such multifunctional materials can be synthesised at a laboratory level. The technology is ready to be taken up by industry.
STORAGE considered four multifunctional devices: capacitors, batteries, super capacitors and hybrid capacitors. It was anticipated that the parallel development of these devices would help mitigate the risks and allow the most fruitful approaches to be taken forward to the technology demonstrator level.
The initial research was split into two parallel paths: reinforcement and multifunctional resin development. The constituents were then brought together in composite manufacture and characterisation. Issues for these materials were addressed, culminating in components being assessed on a hybrid car.
The overall aim was to show these materials imbue at least a 15% improvement in efficiency over the performance of conventional materials and devices. In summary, STORAGE developed revolutionary concepts for lightweight energy storage to realise efficient energy needs of future vehicles.
The project developed a new concept for lightweight energy storage which can radically improve the efficiency of vehicles, among other potential applications. The project integrated, in structural components of the vehicle, 4 different energy storage devices: capacitors, batteries, super-capacitors and hybrid capacitors.
The use of innovative materials and carbon fibre composites lead to 15% improvement in efficiency over conventional materials. Furthermore, several innovative technologies have been used which improved performance. These included:
- carbon aerogel reinforcement
- matrix development based on a mixture of existing epoxy resins and liquid electrolyte
- improved composition of multi-functional resins for super-capacitors.
Innovating for the future: Promoting more sustainable development