Electric vehicles (land and airborne) are becoming more popular because of current environmental awareness and recent changes in legislation around the use of fossil fuels. Electric vehicles commonly have onboard energy storage devices such as batteries and dielectric capacitors for their operation. Batteries store high energy density, which is helpful for long distance drives or flights and capacitors have high-power density that can be used for takeoff or acceleration. As more and more electrical systems and sub-systems are added to the vehicles, the weight of the onboard storage system will increase accordingly, making the vehicle heavy.
One way to achieve weight savings whilst maintaining the power requirements is to use the shell structure of the vehicle as onboard storage devices. A good candidate for such use is carbon fiber reinforced composites where the carbon fiber in the composite can be used as electrodes and the binding polymer as an electrolyte, with a glass barrier as separator in between. There are currently two routes to produce such materials; one by embedding or printing thin batteries onto a composite laminate and the other by synthesizing a material from its fundamental level, both of which show positive results in their flat forms. In reality, the final product is rarely flat and has complex shapes and geometries. To arrive at such complex shapes from flat sheets, the material must undergo several bending and unbending operations that may induce stresses in the materials. These internal stresses may destroy the embedded battery architecture and in effect its purpose. Therefore, to maintain material integrity while processing, it is important to understand the deformation process during such secondary operations. Therefore, this work will focus on understanding the deformation process of such materials during manufacturing operations in order to establish safety limits and manufacturing envelopes.
Aerospace and automotive industry will benefit from this work in developing techniques to manufacture body panels to store and discharge energy. With the current interest in air taxies, commercial aircraft and UAVs can benefit from this project by developing structural materials that can store and discharge energy (wings, fuselage, and rear empennage) to increase their payload capacity.