The rugged nature of the latest ultracapacitors is also important for mass transit innovation. Ultracapacitors on the market today are more rugged and durable in order to provide the best solution foracceleration, energy recapture, peak load shaving and other high-power applications. Durable cells are able to operate in demanding environments, such as hybrid drive technology and meet an industry need for high performance. Unlike batteries, these cells operate with high efficiency, high charge acceptance and cycle stability in a wide temperature range – from +65° Celsius to –40° Celsius.
6. Light rail application manufacturers are building on the successes of their peers in the hybrid bus market.
The same challenges and opportunities that exist in the hybrid bus market are true in light rail applications, but the stakes are higher. The cycles required to propel a train can reach as many as 350,000 per year, meaning a lot more heat and higher cooling requirements on the energy storage solution. Here, too, the lower ESR of supercapacitors is essential. When manufacturers can lower their cooling requirements, they boost the overall efficiency of their applications.
The regenerative braking lesson established by hybrid bus makers translates to rail, as well. Light rail applications rely on ultracaps to get the fast charge they need to pick up speed without the assistance of overhead wires, which can be costly. No other energy storage product has the volumetric power and longevity needed to achieve the high cycle life requirements of rail.
7. Pressures for cleaner vehicles in the consumer market extend to the overall transportation landscape.
Just as mass transit players turn toward the possibilities of hybridized buses and trains, their peers in the consumer market are pushing toward better electric vehicles (EVs). On that side of the industry, proposed corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) regulations and rising gas prices are catalysts for innovation from carmakers. As consumers make the switch to fuel-efficient personal vehicles, they will come to see it as the desired norm for public transportation, as well.
Cleaner future for mass transit
With governments around the world funding more efforts to limit the carbon footprint of public transit and reduce energy consumption, manufacturers are more eager than ever to embrace technology to get cleaner mass transit options on the roads and rails. And now is an opportune time for them to pursue that goal.
Advances in supercapacitor technology mean that manufacturers can lower the ESR and increase energy density by using ultracaps alone or in concert with batteries. Hybrid energy storage systems that pair an ultracapacitor and a battery yield increased energy and improved power density of the hybrid supply, which allows the battery to operate without large current spikes that would normally occur if the battery were used alone. This leads to a longer, more effective life for the battery and a more efficient energy supply for the application.
By 2022, the volume of supercapacitor production will increase by as much as 45 percent, making this technology almost as common as the city buses and light rail trains it will power. The shift to cleaner mass transit means more jobs for workers and lower costs for manufacturers. In every sense of the phrase, blue skies are ahead in the mass transit market. MT
Jeff Colton is vice president of sales, North America at Ioxus.