Ultracapacitors, also known as “supercapacitors” or “electric double layer capacitors (EDLCs)” represent a class of highly powerful energy storage devices which are functionally equivalent to any other known type of capacitors. In contrast to usual electrolytic capacitors, however, the ultracapacitors incorporate highly porous materials – activated carbons. Huge specific surface of the latter (up to 2000 m2/g) allows reaching capacitance on the order of thousands of farads.
Engineers of Honda combined a fuel cell and an ultracapacitor module to provide energy for an electric vehicle. When the car accelerates, the motor power requirement can be met by an ultracapacitor module, while a fuel cell just supports the ultracapacitor during the acceleration mode and provide energy during the cruising mode. During the deceleration (braking) the energy can effectively be recovered due to the SC module. By the way, similar kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) with the use of the ultracapacitor module has recently been announced by Mazda (though in combination with a conventional IC engine).
Undoubtedly, ultracapacitors possess large potential for energy storage industry. Due to unique power characteristics and short charge/discharge time (on the order of seconds), the ultracapacitors will be able to play important role in shifting the paradigm from fossil fuels to global electrification of vehicles.
Prepared by YUNASKO