Extending battery life in transportation and mobile applications with supercapacitors: Page 2 of 6

December 16, 2013 //By Jason P Lee
Extending battery life in transportation and mobile applications with supercapacitors
Jason P Lee, Global Product Manager of Eaton Bussmann looks at how supercapacitors can be used to extend battery life in transportation and mobile applications.
costs are about $200 each and because of this, market research shows that battery theft in both trucks and buses is a problem area.  Furthermore, starting reliability for lead-acid cells drops precipitously in temperatures below -10° Fahrenheit. Supercaps, on the other hand can extend that range to -40° F, further improving engine start reliability where cold weather conditions prevail.

In the case of motor generators that are generally used at construction sites where grid power is unavailable, 60-to-80 percent of engine failure is due to bad batteries, according to market research conducted by Cooper Bussmann. Battery theft is also a significant issue, research shows.

Locomotives must operate reliably and operate in all conditions to meet very demanding train schedules. Cold weather is one of the most prevalent operation conditions and super capacitors can enable engine starting at -40° degrees Fahrenheit, whereas lead-acid batteries aren’t reliable below -10 ° F.

Engine starting for boats is critical because they operate in conditions where jump starts aren’t readily available, and where environmental conditions such as storms or strong tides demand reliability. Additionally, other electrical systems on the boat for electronic equipment (fish finders and navigation) place a considerable load on lead-acid batteries when the engines aren’t running.

In cars, emission regulations will drive automakers to install stop-start systems.  It is forecasted that 40 to 70 percent of new vehicles by 2017 will have stop-start. Requiring a car’s engine to automatically turn off after an idle period will require numerous more restarts that will strain lead-acid batteries and shorten their lifetime. Today, most vehicle manufacturers install a second battery to ensure reliability of stop-start systems.

Supercap Installation Methods

Super capacitors can provide benefits in all the situations above and they can be installed in one of three ways:

  • Direct Parallel
  • Supercap Starter
  • Smart Start

The Direct Parallel approach installs a bank of super capacitors in between the battery and the engine’s electrical system. It

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