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Structural Battery Power Panels

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)
PowerPanels: Multifunctional Composites with Li-Ion Battery Cores
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$769,144
Location: 
University Park, PA
Project Term: 
11/01/2013 to 12/31/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Driving range, safety, and cost remain the biggest hurdles in the way of mass electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Innovative approaches to EV battery manufacturing present the opportunity to maximize stored energy relative to the weight of EVs, allowing for up to three times the driving range. These new battery chemistries and designs prevent overheating, are immune to catastrophic failure, and can be incorporated into the structure of a vehicle to improve strength in some cases. Much of this can be accomplished at a 30% lower cost compared to conventional batteries, thus bolstering widespread adoption of EVs.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) is using a new fabrication process to build load-bearing lithium-ion batteries that could be used as structural components of electric vehicles. Conventional batteries remain independent of a vehicle's structure and require heavy protective components that reduce the energy to weight ratio of a vehicle. PowerPanels combine the structural components with a functional battery for an overall reduction in weight. Penn State's PowerPanels use a "jelly roll" design that winds battery components together in a configuration that is strong and stiff enough to be used as a structural component. The result of this would be a low-profile battery usable as a panel on the floor of a vehicle.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, Penn State's design would integrate the battery into a vehicle's structural components such as floor panels, reducing vehicle weight and increasing driving range.
Security: 
The mass adoption of EVs would diminish the demand for petroleum, dramatically reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Environment: 
Greater use of EVs would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
Economy: 
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.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Paul Albertus
Project Contact: 
Dr. Chris Rahn
Release Date: 
8/21/2013