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What if your electric car didn’t have a battery but was a battery?
Turning a car chassis into a battery would save space inside for more people and cargo, save weight, and probably even cut cost.
Engineers have been trying for years to turn structural components into energy storage cells. But past attempts have yielded either good mechanical properties or good electrical properties but never both together.
Now researchers at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology have fashioned a carbon-fiber version that delivers both: adequate strength to serve as structural members of a vehicle while delivering ten times more power than previous designs.
The new material uses carbon fiber as a negative electrode but has a positive terminal made from aluminum coated with lithium iron phosphate. The terminals are separated by a fiberglass fabric with a solid electrolyte built in.
The resulting panels have about 20 percent the energy density of current lithium-ion batteries. However, a vehicle with power cells as its framework instead of carrying a literal ton of batteries would require far less energy to travel the same distance between charges.
Financed by Sweden’s space agency, the Chalmers team is now replacing the aluminum terminal with a carbon fiber version to add structural strength and swapping the fiberglass fabric for a thinner engineered material that will speed charging and boost the cells’ efficiency. 
The new version will triple the prototype’s energy density and produce a material as strong as aluminum but weighing far less.
The project is scheduled to be completed within two years.
The batteries are referred to as “massless” because if the power cell becomes part of a device’s structure, the separate mass of the battery disappears.
TRENDPOST: A commercially practical, massless battery would revolutionize the electric vehicle industry. If Chalmers’ breakthrough can be market-ready by 2025, it could be on the road before this decade is over.

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