Batteries storing energy for electric cars are heavy, but imagine electric cars built, not with steel, but with a shell of carbon fibers that also act as a battery. Currently, there are estimates that reductions of vehicle weight up to 50% might be possible. My little neighborhood ZENN (Zero Emissions No Noise) had six car batteries in the back and two more under the hood.
“Electric cars typically need larger, denser batteries if they’re going to meet the range expectations of people used to gas-powered vehicles, but available space and weight limit the size of that battery. Researchers might have a solution: turn the very body of the car into a battery. They’ve conducted a study showing that carbon fiber shells could serve as battery electrodes. The trick is to optimize the size and orientation of the fibers so there’s a good balance between stiffness and the electrochemical traits needed to store energy.” – engadget.com/2018/10/21/electric-car-carbon-fiber-battery/?yptr=yahoo
Wikipedia explains “Carbon fibers have several advantages including high stiffness, high tensile strength, low weight, high chemical resistance, high temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion.” In the Third Punic War the women of Carthage donated their hair, which was then braided into cords and became the bow-strings to propel arrows at the Romans. Carbon fibers are thinner than human hair, but like the Carthaginian bow-strings they get their strength from being twisted together like yarn.
All life on Earth is carbon-based. Carbon fiber is expensive . . . right now, but there are other possibilities along the same line of thinking. Carbon comes in at #4 in the most abundant elements of the universe following hydrogen, helium, and oxygen.
The US Forest Service has a new cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) “pilot” plant. The CNC is made from wood by-products. CNCs can be stronger and cheaper than Kevlar or carbon fiber. The projected costs of CNCs is less than ten percent of Kevlar or carbon fiber. – newatlas.com/cellulose-nanocrystals-stronger-carbon-fiber-kevlar/23959/
It’s nice to see the circular thinking of progress. Wooden boats began trade between regions and then far off lands. Wooden carts and wagons provided commerce as they delivered goods. Wooden homes let us build rapidly. Science brought us metals and machinery, and now here we are considering the possibilities of living in a wooden world again.
If electric cars can be built with incredibly strong carbon fibers and provide battery storage for electric power perhaps we could connect the dots and create CNCs that also collect and store energy. They could provide incredibly strong building materials for houses and larger buildings. Many people are converting their homes and business buildings to solar power, but just around the corner we could be using 3-D printed homes, automobiles, ships, and perhaps space ships of cellulose. “Wooden” that be fantastic?