Publication Detail

The Power Capability of Ultracapacitors and Lithium Batteries for Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Applications


Journal Article

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS), Electric Vehicle Research Center

Suggested Citation:
Burke, Andrew and Marshall Miller (2010) The Power Capability of Ultracapacitors and Lithium Batteries for Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Applications. Journal of Power Sources 196 (1), 514 - 522

There is much confusion and uncertainty in the literature concerning the useable power capability of batteries and ultracapacitors (electrochemical capacitors) for various applications. Clarification of this confusion is one of the primary objectives of this paper. The three approaches most often applied to determine the power capability of devices are (1) matched impedance power, (2) the min/max method of the USABC, and (3) the pulse energy efficiency approach used at UC Davis. It has been found that widely different power capability for batteries and ultracapacitors can be inferred using these approaches even when the resistance and open-circuit voltage are accurately known. In general, the values obtained using the energy efficiency method for EF = 90–95% are much lower than the other two methods which yield values corresponding to efficiencies of 70–75%. For plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicle applications, the maximum useable power density for a lithium-ion battery can be higher than that corresponding to 95% efficiency because the peak power of the driveline is used less frequently and consequently charge/discharge efficiently is less important. For these applications, the useable power density of the batteries can be closer to the useable power density of ultracapacitors. In all cases, it is essential that a careful and appropriate measurement is made of the resistance of the devices and the comparisons of the useable power capability be made in a way appropriate for the application for which the devices are to be used.