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Tony Carlson försvarar sin avhandling.

New composite that stores energy

Published: 16 October 2013

A composite of carbon fiber and plastic that, except being light and strong, also serves as a battery. The concept of energy storage in multifunctional materials are now presented in a doctoral thesis by Tony Carlson at LTU. The technology, which is patent pending, makes it possible to create so-called structural batteries to be used in for example electronics and vehicles.

Tony Carlson at the research subject Polymeric Composite Materials has been working as a PhD-student at Swerea Sicomp in Mölndal, where the concept of structural batteries has been developed under the leadership of Professor Leif Asp, research director at Swerea Sicomp.

– We have applied for a patent on the technology to make structural batteries and we are seeking a partner to commercialize this. However, it is not easy to sell a new concept, because the person you are talking to are thinking from their own applications. The benefits of the structural battery becomes clear when using a system perspective, says Leif Asp.

Reader Emile Smith Greenhalgh
The opponent Reader Emile Smith Greenhalgh, Imperial College, London.

– Multifunctional materials affects several areas of research. In my research, I have had the opportunity to work closely with researchers from other disciplines and we have been able to educate each other in our areas of expertise. It is important to find a common language when people come from different disciplines such as mechanics, electronics and chemistry, says Tony Carlson.

The composite used for the structural battery is lightweight and strong with several layers of carbon fiber laid in different directions. The battery function is created when carbon fiber is coated with a plasticky film of polymer, and even if this does not lead ions as well as a liquid, it is compensated by the much shorter distance between the electrodes.

– If you need more battery power you put on more material. You can also shape the material the way you want, making it more flexible than traditional batteries, says Leif Asp.

The thesis has been done in the framework of two projects funded by the EU Seventh Framework Programme and the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, SSF.