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Multifunctional Battery Chassis Systems

Stanford University
ARPA-E Award: 
Stanford, CA
Project Term: 
02/11/2014 to 09/30/2017
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Driving range, safety, and cost remain the biggest hurdles inhibiting mass adoption of electric vehicles (EV). Innovative approaches to EV battery manufacturing present the opportunity to maximize stored energy relative to the weight of EVs, improving driving range and efficiency. By integrating battery systems into a vehicle structure, significant savings in cost and weight can be accomplished compared to conventional batteries, thus bolstering widespread adoption of EVs.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

Stanford University is developing an EV battery that can be used as a structural component of the vehicle. Today's EV battery packs only serve one purpose: electrical energy storage. They do not carry structural loads during operation or absorb impact energy in the event of a collision. Stanford's new battery design would improve upon existing technologies in four key areas: 1) structural capabilities, 2) damage and state sensing systems, 3) novel battery management and thermal regulation, and 4) high-capacity battery cells. Stanford's research will result in a multifunctional battery chassis system that is safe and achieves high efficiency in terms of energy storage at low production cost. The integration of such a battery system would result in decreased overall weight of the combined vehicle and battery, for greater EV range.

Potential Impact: 

If successful, Stanford's battery system would reduce overall vehicle weight more than 40% by serving as a structural component, resulting in increased driving range.


The mass adoption of EVs would diminish the demand for petroleum, dramatically reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.


Greater use of EVs would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.


Technological advancements from the RANGE program could enable EVs to travel significantly further on a single charge at a much lower cost than that of current EVs and conventional vehicles.

Innovation Update: 

(As of May 2018)

Stanford developed a structural battery with integrated sensors that assist with real-time assessment of a battery’s state of charge and state of health. The team’s innovative monitoring system is composed of a network of actuators and sensors that measure strain, temperature, and ultrasonic-guided waves. These improved sensing technologies can further reduce cost. To add structural strength, the team developed multifunctional energy storage composites, seamlessly embedding Lithium-ion battery materials into high-strength carbon fiber composites or automotive grade aluminum. The Stanford team expects to achieve an energy density of about 180 Wh/kg, comparable to leading, commercially available EV batteries. However, the Stanford battery could achieve up to 30% overall weight savings, which could translate to a substantial reduction in fuel consumption and extension of range for EVs.


Companies including Airbus, RUAG, Ford, BMW, and Linamar have expressed interest in the further development of this technology. For aeronautical and aerospace manufacturers, the structural battery could serve as a wing for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or as a chassis for a satellite, and automakers could integrate the battery into the vehicle frame of future EVs. Although the long-term impact of these batteries outside the automotive industry is difficult to predict, the spill-over effect is nonetheless promising in the broader economy.


For a detailed assessment of the Stanford project and impact, please click here.


ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Christopher Atkinson
Project Contact: 
Dr. Fu-Kuo Chang
All Cell Technologies
Envia Systems
Release Date: