Supercapacitor Breakthrough Allows Electric Vehicle Charging In Seconds

UK technology firm Augmented Optics has revealed a new supercapacitor material it says can accept a charge in an electric vehicle as quickly as refueling a conventional car while threatening to render lithium-ion batteries obsolete.

The new material intended to replace conventional batteries is a polymer based on soft contact-lens technology that may dramatically boost the performance of supercapacitors – lightweight electronic components that store and distribute high volumes of power.

They are based on large organic molecules composed of many repeated sub-units and bonded together to form a three-dimensional network.

The new material has been tested by researchers at Great Britain’s University of Surrey and University of Bristol, with their analysis estimating it to be between 1,000 and 10,000-times more effective than current supercapacitors.

Dr. Donald Highgate, technical director at Augmented Optics, said the potential is high indeed.

“If these are half as good as we think they are, and with more experience, they may take over entirely,” said Hughes. “Disruptive, yes — it would be a terrible shock to car manufacturers — but cars could be built on the same factory lines.”

Heathcote said that the group has been working in secret on the project until this point, having filed worldwide patents only last week.

SEE ALSO: European Electric Carmakers Announce Major Ultra-Fast Charging Network

Supercapacitors have the ability to charge and discharge rapidly over very large numbers of cycles, but current supercapacitors are unable to hold charges as efficiently as batteries. Some existing examples used on buses in China require charging every three or four miles.

The new material brings the new supercapacitors closer to the storage capacity of a lithium-ion battery, but with the added benefits of immediate recharging and cheaper production costs.

University of Bristol’s Dr. Ian Hamerton, a scientist on the project, said: “Although we didn’t initially look at the automotive industry, as the results came in, it became apparent the car industry could be one of the first ones to adopt this technology.”

Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk previously said he would bet on supercapacitors over batteries to deliver a breakthrough for electric cars.

Heathcote said the group is actively seeking partners in order to supply the polymers and offer assistance to build these ultra-high-energy density storage devices.

British publication Auto Express reports that the team hopes to build a prototype electric car by 2017 that can be charged up to a 150-mile driving range in just a few seconds.

Auto Express


More Hybrid News...