Besides providing a basic architecture, body panels of automobiles play important role. Body panels are defined on characteristics of durability, required wight and density, elasticity and other features. Different parts of an automobile have different function and hence the requirements are different for different body parts.
The materials are characterized mainly on the basis of their strength and elasticity that allow the material to withstand running conditions and accommodates changes in shapes to suitable levels to provide adequate safety to occupant. With requirements expanding over time, the material quality also needs to be improved.
Material for safety and durability
In early models, the body of the automobiles was made from iron, later materials of low weight were used. Later, carbon steel alloy was used. For sturdy and light weight materials were used for the body panels.
Plastic has replaced to a large extent in interiors of the body. Aluminum and its alloys were used for manufacturing body panels of the automobiles. The bodies can also be made from carbon resins and polymer fibers reinforced with steel wiring.
Energy storing body panels
With the advent of hybrid and electric cars in the market, boarding batteries in the vehicle have become an inevitable move. The batteries are quite heavy and occupy a lot of space. Though a little amount of space can be saved by lithium ion batteries, the quantity is not big enough. Hybrid vehicles are heavy, which leads to their under-performance. This is where the energy storing panels come into picture.
These energy storing panels are made up of carbon resins blended with polymer fibers and can also be reinforces with steel fabric. Not only are these light weight but also are malleable and can be formed into sheets and are quite strong. The weight of the body panels can be reduced by 15% with the help of these materials.
The body panels can store energy generated by methods like regenerative braking, which leads to storage of energy when the car brakes and uses it to charge the batteries. They can also store the excess power during plug in overnight. Attempts are being made by manufacturers in embedding the solar panels in the body panels so that they may store sufficient amount of solar energy and use it later when needed.
Better today and best tomorrow
The green technology can be implemented with much effectiveness with such innovative body panels coming into picture. The dependance on fossil fuels can be diminished over time with the help of such technologies leading to sustainability development.
This technology though expensive on the initial phase can fetch a lot of economy in cost in the long run. Further, they have added advantages of light weight and energy storing capabilities that will not limit the expected performance of the apparatus. The irrelevant wastage of energy over the weight can also be brought down with the usage of such innovative body panels.
Research is on with respect to nano-structured batteries. This would help in weight elimination Further, development of super capacitors would enhance the charge storage capacities. All this will help make cars more energy efficient.