The automotive sector is under increasing pressure to improve fuel efficiency and reduce its dependence on oil. This has led to a major trend towards electrification. However, the solutions enabling this shift must be able to meet stringent demands for high performance, reliability and safety.
The development of more efficient hybrid and electric vehicles is ready to take a big leap forward with the high power density, safety and lifespan that ultracapacitors offer.
Ultracapacitors can be connected in parallel with batteries to leverage benefits in both energy density and power density to create a more efficient, more robust overall system. Ultracapacitors are ideally suited to two of the fastest growing solutions in the automotive market: regenerative braking, i.e. KERS, and start/stop systems.
Regenerative braking allows a car to absorb kinetic energy during braking and release that energy during acceleration or hill climbing, reducing fuel consumption. This technique also takes most of the load off mechanical brakes, reducing brake maintenance and replacement expenses. In electric and hybrid vehicles, the power density of lithium-ion battery technology is often inadequate compared to the superior power output of ultracapacitors.
Start-stop applications enable the engine to shut down when it comes to a stop at a red light or when sitting in traffic. Ultracapacitors then provide a short burst of energy that restarts the motor. This technique delivers significant savings on fuel and reduces emissions. It is expected that start-stop systems will become the most cost effective way for automakers to pursue higher fuel efficiencies targets and that as many as half of new cars will be fitted with them by 2022.