Publication Detail

Commercialization of Ultracapacitors for Electric and Hybrid Vehicles


Research Report

Suggested Citation:
Burke, Andrew (1995) Commercialization of Ultracapacitors for Electric and Hybrid Vehicles. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-95-22

The prospects for the development and commercialization of ultracapacitors for use in electric and hybrid vehicles in the near-term (within five years) are discussed based on the present status of the technology world-wide and the characteristics of devices that are available for purchase or in an advanced state-of-development and thus nearly ready to be marketed. The energy density (Wh/kg) of the devices presently available for purchase are too low (2.2 Wh/kg) for most vehicle applications and their price ($100-$300) is too high for even applications requiring only a small energy storage capacity (50-100 Wh). Prototype devices having an energy density of 5-8 Wh/kg are almost ready for marketing from several capacitor/battery companies. The higher energy density capacitors are carbon-based and use an organic electrolyte. They are fabricated using existing production equipment, so their price can be expected to be much lower when they are manufactured in high quantities and there are multiple sources for purchasing them. Projections of the future performance of ultracapacitors were made indicating energy densities of 10-20 Wh/kg are achievable in the relatively near-term using carbon electrode materials having specific capacitances of 150-200 F/gm. Materials and device R&D activities needed to achieve even higher energy densities are also discussed. Paths currently being followed by capacitor/battery companies to commercialize ultracapacitors are identified. Possible synergisms between ultracapacitor, lithium-ion battery, and fuel cell development are indicated as a means of decreasing the time required to commercialize advanced ultracapacitors.
Prepared for the Swedish National Board for Industrial Development (NUTEK), Stockholm, Sweden.