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Power/Alternative Energy  

Understanding ultracapacitors' role in energy harvesting

Posted: 04 May 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:energy harvesting  alternative power sources  ultracapacitors in automotive 

The internal combustion engine has remained dominant in the automotive industry because it has very high energy density (petrol) and very high power density, controlled by the rate of fuel ignition. This combination of energy and power density does not exist for batteries or fuel cells, and alternative power sources have been largely ignored due to their expense. Yet, numerous alternative power sources, including ultracapacitors exist changing the way automotive engineers interface with power sources.

An obvious alternative power source is the battery, but the size and weight of batteries required for an all-electric car makes them impractical. The next-best approach is a hybrid power plant, a power plant that uses a small internal-combustion engine (ICE) in concert with a battery pack. It is fair to say that hybrid power plants have come a long way in the last five years; however, they still leave a great deal to be desired.

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