Commercial SC-based solutions for specific task are available for both internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric cars. They range from aids to jump start or start/stop in ICE models to regenerative braking in hybrid and BEVs. On plug-in hybrid bus, braking energy recovery system composed of supercapacitor modules can absorb and store the energy produced at braking and then release the energy during start-up or acceleration, so the vehicle could save fuel consumption and reduce emission more efficiently. If pure electric vehicles only use batteries as power supply, which has relatively short service life and limited number of charging and discharging cycles, the high p
ower required by the vehicle at start-up will have great impact on the battery life. However, if a SC system is connected in parallel with the batteries on the vehicles, it will
provide instantaneous high power on starting, quick accelerations and strong braking, letting batteries operate in more steady running situations.
Summarizing, SCs can provide peak voltage for pure electric vehicles, stabilize the voltage and significantly extend the service life of batteries.
CapTop is working on an interesting SC hybrid architecture: the serial hybrid, where a small size SC storage (<1 kWh, providing a range of 3–4 km for a medium utility car) is charged by a small ICE engine to considerably extend the range and allow both regenerative braking and power for fulfilling peak demand.
This solution is also suitable to solve the air-conditioning problem that affects the BEVs considerably reducing their running range. Because the ICE engine is not intended to provide the peak power, it may be about 5 times smaller than the one of a traditional car of the same size/class. It would run at a constant and optimal rpm regime and, managed by a start/stop system, increase its efficiency and reduce its emissions, while providing a service comparable to ICE models, especially in the urban context.
It also allows full electric motion for short trips. The SC serial hybrid solves or reduces substantially the safety issues that may arise during rescue operations after accidents involving BEVs. The potentially damaged batteries, having a huge quantity of energy stored, may create hazards of electric shocks. Small SC storages would be much safer as they may be quickly discharged by a brake resistor whenever a simple accelerometer system detects a crash.
A potential helper for such application may come from the design of structural SC storage, exploiting the same aluminium shell that protects the cells for the vehicle’s structural purposes. In this way, the chassis or the bodywork may perform both the storage and structural functionalities, greatly reducing the vehicle weight and cost.