Ultracapacitors

As the electrification of the automobile emerges, ultracapacitors are finding numerous applications in vehicles, including in Global-E’s PULSE vehicle.  One early application that has emerged is ‘engine starting’; in particular, large diesel engines require high power for 50 ms or so, especially in cold temperatures.  This power profile is not well suited for batteries which perform poorly at cold temperatures and exhibit poor reliability due to stresses induced at high power levels.  Nippon Chemi-Con (NCC), Japan, has developed ultracapacitor modules for this application.   They range in size weighing 12kg-15kg and can deliver between  39kW to 90kW of power for up to 2 seconds.  In Europe, automobile manufacturers are using ultracapacitors for engine starting as well – for start-stop – in  order to adhere to strict requirements for reducing emissions and improving fuel efficiencies – otherwise they face penalties. 

In addition to engine starting, ultracapacitors are used for regenerative braking in hybrid electric vehicles whereby kinetic energy is recaptured during the short (5-8 seconds) braking period.  This energy is then used for power assist during the acceleration mode.  Here again, the power profiles are not suitable for typical batteries and hence, the addition of ultracapacitors extend the battery life and reduces the weight of the vehicle since less battery power is required.

Global-E is at the forefront of this technology by using Pulse as an example of how ultracapacitors can be used in Electric Vechicles.

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