Hey, here's something to think about on a pre-spring Friday. Most of us have been conditioned to think of batteries as the primary energy storage option for electric vehicles, but chances are increasing that ultracapacitors will also play a role in extending electric vehicle ranges and utility. Oh yes, and helping decrease the cost.
Consider the fact that one of the better-known players angling for this market, Maxwell Technologies, this week was awarded a $7.01 million cost-shared technology development contract by the United States Advanced Battery Consortium. (Cost-shared means that Maxwell will also put up money for the research and development.) The consortium is part of the United States Council for Automotive Research, which is backed by companies including Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. So, there's a pretty good chance that this technology will find a commercial application as quickly as possible.
The moolah that Maxwell will get directly is about $3.5 million, but here's the skinny: Maxwell is leading a team that has been charged with creating an energy storage system that meets the specifications outlined in the consortium's Lower Energy-Energy Storage System for power assist hybrid electric vehicles (aka PHEVs). The aim is improvements in energy and power density compared with existing capacitor systems. The goal is to double existing capacitor density from 10 kilowatts per kilogram to 20 kilowatts per kilogram, while doubling energy density from 15 watt-hours per kilogram to 30 watt-hours per kilogram.
As I mentioned in my year-start post, energy storage technologies continue to be one of the most critical components of the green energy movement. This is another great example of what needs to happen.