AFS Trinity Awarded Patent for Ultracap Hybrids

AFS Trinity Power Corporation today announced that it has been awarded a patent for its Extreme Hybrid drive train that makes ultracapacitors a critical part of plug-in hybrid strategy. For the last few years, AFS Trinity has claimed that using ultracaps could push the mileage of a small SUV to 150 mpg.

Capacitors store only small amounts of electricity but can provide bursts of power—reducing strain on hybrid batteries primarily designed to store large amounts of energy. Think of capacitors as a way to provide instant oomph. In fact, F1 has been using something similar—an energy-saving device known as Kinetic Energy Recover Systems—for a few years. The benefit of ultracapicators for everyday hybrids is the ability to use smaller, less expensive battery packs—especially on plug-in hybrids—and to extend battery durability and performance.

The AFT Trinity patent provides broad protection for its technology, covering the use of ultracapacitors, flywheels, and “power batteries” used to protect the main energy storage battery bank.

“By seamlessly integrating ultra-capacitors into the electronic propulsion system of plug-ins, the AFS Trinity system eliminates peak electric loads on the battery caused by the frequent acceleration and braking events that are part of everyday driving,” wrote AFS Trinity Chief Executive Officer Edward W. Furia, in a letter to federal legislators. “This innovation allows plug-ins to travel farther on smaller, less-expensive lithium-ion batteries, while also increasing the useful life of the batteries.” Furia is advocating that government incentives should support power-based systems, not just vehicles like the Chevy Volt that have large battery packs.

Increased use of ultracapicators could become one more tool for automotive engineers to store energy and use it to maximize efficiency—and push hybrid fuel economy to new levels.


  • JamesDavis

    Great going AFS. There for awhile, the three big U.S. automakers had us all believing that we didn’t have a scientist worth a plug-nickle. I bet Telsa Motors will be interested in that Capacitors.

  • JOB123

    Using ultra capacitors for reduction of surge current losses is so incredibly obvious and has been talked about for 40 years so that no patent should have been issued. This will just be a stupid fight between lawyers that will slow up the proper use of ultra capacitors and electric cars.

  • Samie

    Be careful here, getting a patent on ultracapacitor technology and creating media buzz may only be part of a business strategy in selling stock or a buyout of the company to the highest bidder. Will ultracapacitor technology be the NiMH battery of the 2010s? Lets hope not…..

    I know there are lots of engineers and gear-heads that leave comments on this site, so I wonder what the cost limitations of this technology is, & when it would hypothetically be ready for mass production?

  • Charles

    JOB123, I hope you do not mind a re-post but you said what I was going to say, and I want to make sure your point about the patent award being another stupid mistake by our US Patient office is heard loud and clear.

    Using ultra capacitors for reduction of surge current losses is so incredibly obvious and has been talked about for 40 years so that no patent should have been issued. This will just be a stupid dick fight between lawyers that will slow up the proper use of ultra capacitors and electric cars.

  • calvin

    I think the current patent system is horseshit and encourages patent trolling more than genuine invention/innovation, but if this is so obvious, then why has it not been implemented by others yet? If it has, then their patent can be revoked on account of there being prior art. Or is this something that has been in use in other fields for the past 40-years, but they’re filing for a patent specifically on its use in automobiles (kinda like Creative was granted a patent for the use of “menus” on a portable media player)?

  • Charles

    Calvin, the basic use of any capacitor is to smooth out power. A capacitor can be charged with current very quickly and can discharge current very quickly. Having capacitors large enough to work with EVs is a challenge. A patent for coming up with a better higher capacity capacitor would draw only praise from me. A patent for using a capacitor for what capacitors are made to do, just because large enough capacitors are now available will draw damnation from me and many others.

    Back in the 80 the patent office issued patients for using MRIs to look at wood and other things. There was no invention or innovation here. Just applying new technology to an old problem.

    I hope this does not get too far off into patient reform. If it does I could be up all night.

  • simon@syd

    I just hope this doesnt stifle cretivity. They’ve patented the flywheel? I dont get it.

  • loate

    Congratulations to AFS for awarding the patent for Ultracap Hybrids

  • usbseawolf2000

    Ultracaps lose charge very fast. Keeping it charged up just in case the spike / surge in power demand may not be worth while. It may make sense for race cars but not for average Joe driving on the highway.

  • Collin Burnell

    Great comments! My only request is that we keep it clean (no scatological language please).

    Clearly we need more information on the details of the patent.

  • Antonio

    Agreed, the concept of using UC’s to buffer energy in an EV is not new or novel, so seems like some trolling going on here; and this does not mean they necessarily have solved the problems of getting UC’s in production volumes at realistic prices.
    They are one of many companies working on batteries with Super-Capacitive characteristics inside the cells, so I suppose others will now need to buy a license to use UltraCaps. Perhaps Chevron will buy Trinity and put those patents on the shelf for a while….
    I think a declaration of National Security implications should occur so nobody can lock the tech up, but make it available to US companies and researchers on a cost-share basis. OMG, socialism you say!
    No, just socializing the GAIN rather than the usual pattern of socializing the COST while PRIVATIZING the Gain.

    cheers,
    Antonio