The changing role of supercapacitors in HEV design

With more and more vehicle manufacturers producing their own versions of the electric car, people are starting to wonder about what makes these different vehicles run. As the name implies, these cars run on electricity, which means it does not run on gasoline or any other type of fuel. It runs using electricity that is stored in batteries.

The battery systems of electric cars are essentially high voltage systems that give out high power to enable the continued forward movement of these vehicles. These are also systems that can easily handle huge surges of electricity since these have to charge real fast in order to be at par with vehicles that can be refuelled in mere minutes. Another thing that you will notice about these battery systems is they are getting smaller with each new model. This is to give the vehicle enough room for all its other functions.

Electric vehicle battery systems utilize lithium-ion, although there are a few that use nickel-metal hydride batteries. The former is used mainly for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and full electric vehicles. The latter is used in hybrids that alternate between electric and gas without the benefit of being plugged in to an outlet. With these two types of batteries, you may wonder, where do EV capacitors come into play?

Capacitors, or more specifically ultracapacitors, are used by electric vehicle battery systems as an additional source of energy. These give electric cars an extra boost of energy during acceleration and when these vehicles need to pull uphill. These are also used as energy storage devices and as a way to recover braking energy of the vehicle.

Future of Capacitors in Electric Vehicles

The current role of capacitors in electric vehicles is to provide extra energy when needed and as backup storage devices. It is thought however that ultracapacitors, or supercapacitors as some people call them, will take over the role of lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles. This means that EV capacitors might very well be the source of energy for future EVs.

The ultracapacitor is being viewed as a potential replacement due to its capability to charge quickly. This is the problem that most electric vehicle owner faces – the need to wait hours before their vehicle is fully charged. With the use of a supercapacitor as the main energy source for EVs, charging can happen in minutes, rather than hours. This can easily compare to the quick refuelling of vehicles that run on gas.

Another advantage seen with the use of supercapacitors when they become the energy source for EVs is the possibility of wireless charging. This means you won’t need to plug your vehicle in to charge it. This makes charging your EVs easier and less of a hassle.

While there is much promise in the future for the use of capacitors as the energy source for EVs, it is still a work in progress. Problems that are plaguing this idea right now include the amount of energy these capacitors can hold and how long these can stay charged. These issues are currently being investigated so it is likely you will see EVs with supercapacitors as their primary energy source in the years to come. Until then, you will have to put up with lithium-ion powered ones that rely on capacitors only for backup energy and braking power.

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