Components | September 20, 2011

Ultracapacitors: Future thanks to new vehicle emissions requirements?

Ultracapacitors, which can displace the use of fossil fuels by capturing energy from the vehicle’s braking system and using it to power the vehicle, could play a key role in helping vehicle manufacturers comply with new standards.
That’s one reason why, according to a recent report from Pike Research, revenue from worldwide sales of ultracapacitors in transportation and grid services will grow by more than tenfold, to USD 284.1 million, between 2011 and 2016.

To date, ultracapacitors have been viewed as too expensive for most energy storage applications and the technology insufficiently mature for transportation applications. However, Pike Research’s analysis indicates that they are rapidly gaining acceptance in hybrid trucks and stop-start vehicles, which can temporarily shut off the engine when stopped or idling and then automatically restart it to resume locomotion.
“In the transportation market, the most popular segment for ultracapacitor modules will be for use in stop-start vehicles,” says senior analyst John Gartner. “They’ll have a much harder time gaining traction in hybrid, plug-in, and fuel cell vehicles, which already incorporate batteries for energy storage.”

In Europe, where emissions standards are more stringent than in the United States, stop-start technology has been incorporated into more than two dozen models. The new fuel efficiency standards could drive similar uptake in the United States, and manufacturers will likely turn to ultracapacitors in growing numbers. Pike Research forecasts that worldwide sales of stop-start vehicles will exceed 14 million by 2015.

Ultracapacitors show particular promise in diesel-powered stop-start vehicles. Pike Research forecasts that ultracapacitor revenues in the stop-start vehicle segment will reach USD 356 million worldwide by 2020.


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