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Ultracapacitors afford better car electrification

Posted: 09 Sep 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:automotive  ultracapacitor  start-stop system  active suspension 

Sudden bumps or tight turns quickly amp the power needed to navigate through a turn. With an ultracapacitor, suspension systems have access to a constant electromagnetic power source that lift or lower a vehicle's chassis to stabilize the car. From the naked eye, the difference between active and standard suspension is plainly visible, with the body of the car remaining in place while the wheels navigate the turn or bump. Additionally, ultracaps' long life cycle means the active suspension feature will operate optimally for the life of the automobile. The limited onus this places on the batteries also extends their lives and limits fuel consumption. Active suspension still isn't available in most models and will likely remain an option only for owners of premium models for the foreseeable future. Still, the feature's availability in any manner suggests ultracaps are becoming a more ubiquitous technology for automobile manufacturers.

Electric turbocharging

Turbocharged engines are nothing new for automobile manufacturers. Consumers want both performance and fuel economy. Downsized turbocharged engines have become a popular option to satisfy both desires, and a relatively new development is the electric turbocharger. It's a natural fit for ultracapacitors to act as a constant power source to support the demanding cycle loads of electric turbochargers without drawing additional strength from the battery or additional fuel. Navigant recently reported that 75 per cent of Ford gas and diesel engines have integrated turbocharged engines. The same study pegged 85 per cent of Volkswagen's 2014 models to have turbochargers. Audi and Volvo are headed in that direction, as well, reinforcing automakers' increasing adoption of this technology to right-size engines and save fuel.


(Source: Maxwell Technologies)

Much of these advancements have come even without the integration of ultracaps. However, there's a natural desire to innovate even further, and ultracapacitors can help manufacturers continue their progress. As always, manufacturers will test the systems before they make ultracaps a regular part of engine design. However, the results of electrified turbochargers and ultracaps' success in other automotive systems to date have already been positive enough to warrant additional trials with the technology.

The shared expectation from both consumers and regulatory authorities to diminish reliance on gasoline and deliver a superior automobile is only going to become more prominent. This has manufacturers searching for additional options to electrify their machines and continue to produce smaller engines to cut the load on batteries. Furthermore, consumers' desires have moved beyond even better fuel economy. They want features that allow for easy use of Internet-connected devices and digital services that call for even more electrification. A constant source of electromagnetic energy that can be accessed as needed without additional latency is a great fit. Ultracapacitors provide exactly what manufacturers are, and will be, looking to deliver.

- Jens Keiser
  Maxwell Technologies

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