Battery Power - January/February 2012 - (Page 30)

Feature Can Ultracapacitors Revolutionize the Electric Vehicle Market? Jeff Colton, Vice President of Sales, North America Ioxus Widespread adoption of electric vehicles isn’t as far off as many consumers might expect. Already past the early-adopter phase, EVs are quickly approaching acceptance in the mass market. To get there, however, manufacturers must solve a few key issues. Deploying energy storage technology such as ultracapacitors is at the center of their evaluation efforts. Key players in the EV industry gathered at the Accelerating Sustainable Performance conference a few months ago to discuss this very issue. Speakers at the conference outlined the inhibiting factors of bringing EVs to the masses. For one, many EV designs do not closely enough mimic the design of traditional cars. Second, additional investment in innovation and sustainability will help drive advances. While these are important factors, the conversation focused heavily on the public’s anxiety about EV range and challenges related to charging. Before trading in their gas cars for EVs, consumers want to be assured they will be able to find places to charge their cars on the road. They also want to know that they will be able to charge quickly and that charges will hold for convenient lengths of time. Ultracapacitors are leading the way in answering the high priority concerns of consumers and manufacturers. Currently, ultracapacitors offer rapid re-charge rates and long life spans not found in batteries, and with an increased energy density, will be set to replace lead acid storage batteries. Research is focused on increasing the energy density of ultracapacitors, with a goal of reaching the energy density of lead acid storage batteries. The high recharge rates, the ability to recharge in minutes as opposed to hours, enable ultracapacitors to tolerate hundreds of thousands of charge/discharge cycles without failing and with almost no maintenance. While the energy density of ultracapacitors has not yet reached the levels of lead acid storage batteries, the goal is well within the capabilities of ultracapacitor technology. When achieved, it will be revolutionary in the EV market. Because ultracapacitors are much more efficient at recapturing energy than batteries, they drastically improve vehicles’ energy storage capabilities. For example, an ultracapacitor has a 95 to 98 percent round-trip efficiency, compared to the 60 to 80 percent of various battery types. This saves fuel, as more energy is stored faster and can be used for re-launching a vehicle with start/stop technology. Ultracapacitors are already supporting the mass-market viability of hybrid cars and EVs by harvesting energy that would otherwise be lost. By storing and providing energy quickly, ultracapacitors play a key role in hybrid automotive systems and have a response time far faster than batteries. For example, this is illustrated by a regenerative braking system, which employs a motor-generator, set with a capacitor bank. The generator is driven when braking is required, charging the capacitors, and the motor delivers assistance to the vehicle during acceleration. Additional current applications include using hybrid ultracapacitors for computer power back-up, battery disconnect, safety communication back up, airbag back-up power, emergency brakes and lights, security back-up power and power windows. Ultracapacitors are rapidly being integrated into vehicles with start/stop technology. By shutting off the engine when a car is stopped in traffic, automakers can increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Ultracapacitors are integral in providing a quick start for vehicles. As ultracapacitor pricing has declined much faster than battery pricing over the past decade, manufacturers will be keen on adopting the technology. More importantly, the prices will likely continue to decline at a faster rate than those of batteries; whereas ultracapacitors are a relatively new form of energy storage, batteries have been on the market for more than 100 years. With a forecasted compounded annual growth of 40 percent this decade, material and manufacturing costs and overall pricing will be driven down significantly. Even the newer battery technologies aren’t projected to realize this kind of growth or cost reduction, and the older technologies such as lead acid batteries are tied more to the cost of raw materials, which aren’t declining significantly. Ultracapacitor pricing has declined by well over 90 percent compared to a less than 40 percent decline for batteries. Ultracapacitors are getting more powerful, energetic and economical. At the point when ultracapacitors beat batteries on energy density, EVs will be propelled to the mass market. Improved technology will only increase the adoption of ultracapacitors by automakers, who can then manufacture EVs that directly address consumers’ concerns. And then, we will begin seeing far more plug-in vehicles on the road. Jeff Colton is vice president of sales, North America at Ioxus. He is responsible for managing and growing the company’s North American sales operations in multiple alternative energy sectors. Previously, Jeff held executive roles at companies including General Electric Corp., Sanyo Electric Corp. and Saft Battery Corp. For more information, please contact Ioxus at 30 Battery Power • January/February 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Battery Power - January/February 2012

Battery Power - January/February 2012
East Penn’s Batteries Play Key Role in Solar Energy Storage Project
The Rechargeable Battery Association Endorses UN Efforts to Improve Lithium Ion Battery Transport Safety Regulations
Usable Energy: Key to Determining the True Cost Of Advanced Lithium Ion Battery Systems for Electric Vehicles
Battery Chargers – Moving Towards Smart Chargers
Battery Evolution: Ensuring Batteries Meet the Safety Concerns of a Changing World
Charging & Testing
ICs and Semiconductors
Power Supplies
Industry News
Calendar of Events
Can Ultracapacitors Revolutionize the Electric Vehicle Market?

Battery Power - January/February 2012