August 25, 2009
Ultracapacitors To Cut Plug-In Hybrid Car Costs

Ultracapacitors will recharge charge cycles on hybrid car batteries and therefore increase the life spans.

Energy storage devices called ultracapacitors could lower the cost of the battery packs in plug-in hybrid vehicles by hundreds or even thousands of dollars by cutting the size of the packs in half, according to estimates by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, IL. Ultracapacitors could also dramatically improve the efficiency of another class of hybrid vehicle that uses small electric motors, called microhybrids, according to a recent study from the University of California, Davis.

Ultracapacitors will also enable a different trade-off in car battery designs where the batteries are more dense and higher capacity but slower chargers.

Hurray for ultracapacitors. Hope they reach the market in pluggable hybrids before the price of oil skyrockets.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 August 25 11:34 PM  Energy Electric Cars

chris said at August 26, 2009 11:00 AM:

It surprises me that this is news. Especially for car manufacturers.

I'm no expert in the matter, but because charge time is so much less than traditional Lithium-Ion batteries, it would seem useful for a car to run from ultracapacitors directly instead of batteries. I think this because it seems like a simple feet to build a system where energy could be generated from the rotation of the tires and stored in ultracapacitors, so that a lightweight car could offset power usage from the batteries with an electric engine powered by the electricity generated from its movement, temporarily stored in the ultracapacitors.

Engineer-Poet said at August 26, 2009 10:11 PM:

Why do we still have people who believe in perpetual motion machines?  Is US science education that bad?

Nick G said at August 27, 2009 11:50 AM:

2nd gen li-ion is pretty durable - I suspect the reduction in wear & tear from ultracaps wouldn't be worth the price.

I think they're really talking about lead-acid. Unfortunately, LA isn't very sexy, and doesn't make great PR. Even Firefly Energy's 2nd gen LA is struggling (they just laid off 1/3 their staff, and are limping along with DOD support).

Fortunately, li-ion is falling in price pretty quickly, so it probably doesn't matter much.

anonyq said at August 29, 2009 9:39 PM:

It is not only the reduction of wear & tear. Ultracapacitor are much more efficient than batteries. they "leak" more power than batteries but that isn't important during driving. Also part of the durability of li-ion batteries is due to only using the battery between 80% to 30% of capacity. If you use an Ultracapacitor for most of the "tear" than you can increase the minimum and maximum and that means a smaller, cheaper, battery can be used for the same storage

Nick G said at August 31, 2009 11:27 AM:

Ultracapacitor are much more efficient than batteries.

I believe that the difference is 99% vs 93%. Not enormous.

If you use an Ultracapacitor for most of the "tear" than you can increase the minimum and maximum

Interesting. Do you have any sources of info for the "tear" from surges?

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