In my mind, ultracapacitors and hydrogen play similar roles. They are both advanced, proposed forms of energy storage that always seem just over the horizonâ€¦ no matter how far along we travel. With hydrogen, the problem is not the power generating technology itself â€“ fuel cells exist, and they work great. The problem is that we have poor means of storing and distributing the fuel. Ultracapacitors have the opposite problem. The infrastructure for transmitting and generating electricity is all in place; what we lack are the actual ultracapacitors themselves.
Granted, scientists are hard at work trying to build these ultracapacitors, and with the nanotechnology available to material scientists today, there is good reason to believe it is within our reach. But Iâ€™m not such a patient guy, and I still want to see real live examples of ultracapacitors in action.
Looks like Iâ€™ll have to go to South Korea, because thatâ€™s where ultracapacitors from Maxwell Technologies (of San Diego) were shipped earlier this year, and are now being tested. The South Korean government has hooked them up to a Korean subway system, where they will capture electricity from regenerative braking. A full demonstration of the technology isnâ€™t scheduled to happen until mid 2009, but for now Maxwell claims that tests are going well. They say that they could reduce grid consumption by 20%!
More importantly, if we see real, working, prototypes from Maxwell, that means that car-sized ultracapacitors might not be that far off. An ultracapacitor-powered electric vehicle is better than a lithium-ion powered one, because it can charge in minutes, rather than hours.
Maxwell! Bring some of those ultracapacitors to New York! Weâ€™ve got plenty of subways here, let me tell you. In fact, I think I wouldnâ€™t mind the ear-splitting screetch of the 1 Train if I knew that all that braking was going to a good purpose. Well, not as much anyway.
Via Greentech Media
written by Nikita Kondraskov, December 12, 2008
written by Jacob, December 15, 2008
written by Ray, December 15, 2008
written by Todd Edelman, December 25, 2008
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