What Are Supercapacitors Used for in Cars

What Are Supercapacitors Used for in Cars


– Supercapacitor: functioning

– Advantages of the supercapacitor

– Applications of the supercapacitor in the automobile

The supercapacitor (or supercapacitor) is a device that replaces the battery for starting and supplementing energy. How and why should you use this equipment? We’ll tell you everything.

Supercapacitor: operation

Supercapacitor How It Works

Note: the supercapacitor has only its operating principle in common with the capacitor. For the rest, the technologies adopted are different, and the size scales are not the same.

Its role is to accumulate a large quantity of electrical energy to release it at the right moment (start and stop, boost phases…).

On this point, its function is similar to that of a battery. Its shape is similar to that of a battery: several supercapacitors are coupled and enclosed in a housing of equivalent size.

The supercapacitor consists of a successive stack of conductive plates (armatures) separated by an insulator or “dielectric”. When each end is connected to an electrical source, the negative charges (electrons) accumulate on one armature and the positive charges (absence of electrons) on the opposite armature, allowing energy storage.

This energy storage (capacity of the supercapacitor) is measured in Farads and is expressed by the formula C = q/V, where:

– C is the capacity of the supercapacitor in Farads (F).

– q is the amount of electricity in coulombs. The coulomb is the amount of electricity that passes through a conductor in 1 second for a current of 1 ampere.

– V is the voltage in volts applied to the electrodes of the supercapacitor.

The analysis of this formula implies that:

– The greater the amount (q) of electricity stored, the greater the capacity.

– The lower the voltage applied to the terminals, the higher the capacity.

This is why supercapacitors generally have a voltage of 2.87 volts, and their armatures are made of innovative materials with a substantial active surface, such as activated carbons (1,000 to 2,000 m²/g). Their capacities vary from 100 Farads to 1,700 Farads (still under development).

New materials resulting from nanotechnology, particularly graphene, with an active surface of 2,600 m²/g, will allow even higher performances.

Precision on the active surface: activated carbons and graphene have a spongy texture comparable to that of a sponge, which allows them to offer a large storage surface.

Advantages of the supercapacitor

Supercapacitor How It Works


The advantages of the supercapacitor include:

– The fact of having power (in watts) is immediate.

Contrary to the battery, it supports the charge-discharge cycles without a problem.

– It is less heavy than a battery and, unlike the latter, it is insensitive to temperature variations.

Among its disadvantages, on the other hand:

– Its nominal energy storage capacity is currently lower than that of the battery (on average 5 watt-hours/kg for 150 watt-hours/kg).

– It can present electrical risks for the participants (driver and passengers, maintenance, emergency services). Indeed, as its particularity is to restore the accumulated energy in a discharge quickly, the intensities delivered are dangerous in case of contact (1,500 to 9,000 amperes at peak).

Good to know: Do you want to get supercapacitor repairs on your car? Here is a professional mechanic in Hoppers Crossing.

Applications of the supercapacitor in the automotive industry

Supercapacitor How It Works

Starting assistance

In most cases, it does not entirely replace the battery. However, it assists it during start, the main drawback still being its energy restitution methods: a lot of energy delivered quickly, unlike the battery, which has the same qualities, but can also accept a slow discharge at low intensity (developments in progress).

Indirectly, it still allows starting:

– On fuel-injected motocross bikes that do not have an electric starter, so no battery, at the action of the kick, it allows the electrical supply of the fuel pump before the engine starts.

– Some trucks are equipped with it to help with starting, especially in cold weather (Maxwell starting module).

Energy recovery

What Are Supercapacitors Used for in Cars

Formula 1 is a laboratory for these new technologies (KERS power-boosting system):

– When braking, a receiver converts this thermal energy into electrical energy stored in supercapacitors, which release it when needed.

– At the exhaust, in the same way, they restore the thermal energy of the exhaust gases previously transformed into electrical energy and stored.

Hope this post helps you determine if your vehicle needs a supercapacitor. This post should most likely be helpful to those of you who have a vested interest in tuning your vehicle. For this, you can get in touch with Complete Mechanical Centre. They will help you get the most out of your car, whether you own a German-engineered Mercedes-Benz, a Jaguar, a Peugeot, or any other model.

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