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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.