Aerospace, motorsports and defense industries are all early adopters of many technologies, which then trickle down to more general applications for a multitude of industries. Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems are a great example of a technology that was first developed for Formula 1 cars, but is gaining popularity in the automotive and transportation sectors and can prove to be a significant help in reducing carbon emissions.
Ultracapacitors are now being applied to satellite technology and space travel. The aerospace industry is particularly demanding and requires extremely low-weight, high-performance technologies that can tolerate large temperature variations and exposure to radiation. Power-to-weight ratio is particularly important as the cost of sending 1 pound to space is around €9000 and reducing overall weight, and therefore cost, is a key target for the industry. Ultracapacitors offer a very high power-to-weight ratio, are robust under challenging conditions and offer long lifespan, making them ideally suited to the aerospace industry.
While spacecraft harvest their energy with solar cells, they do have to spend some of the time on the “night side” where they rely on stored energy. This function is currently undertaken by lithium-ion batteries. Although batteries can store more energy than ultracapacitors, they are slow to charge and discharge, lose 30% of their energy through heat alone and require frequent replacement. Ultracapacitors can charge almost instantly and deliver significantly more power for weight compared to batteries. Using ultracapacitors for tasks such as adjusting antennae and moving solar arrays will considerably reduce the amount of weight and room required for energy storage.
The motorsports industry has a key role to play in driving fuel efficiency and leading technological thinking for the automotive industry as a whole. The sector has become a test-bed for many of the common technologies we see in the automotive industry today, from disc brakes and rearview mirrors to engine air intake and the use of new materials like carbon fiber. Motorsports is an ideal environment to apply the new high-performance systems that ultracapacitors enable and to lead engineering advancements in vehicle performance and efficiency.
Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) are an advanced technology used in modern racecars and high performance vehicles for recovering kinetic energy under braking. The recovered energy is then used to provide additional power and boost acceleration when needed while reducing fuel consumption. With recent advances in technology, ultracapacitors now provide one of the best technology solutions on the market for KERS applications.
“Ultracapacitor technology has the potential to increase mission safety while reducing mission costs. SpaceCap cells will allow us to package a large amount of power into a very small package, creating opportunities for new applications.”
Bernard Zufferey, PECS Manager, European Space Agency