Transportation Tuesday: The UltraBattery Hybrid Storage Cell

by , 02/19/08

CSIRO, ultrabattery, hybrid, HEV, electric, power, solar, wind,

While the potential of electric cars is obvious, one of the main concerns is battery life, both in its ability to hold a charge, and its shelf life before needing a replacement. But the new =UltraBattery, developed by Australia’s CSIRO, is a high-performance hybrid storage cell that runs for 100,000 miles without recharge or replacement. It combines a supercapacitor with a lead acid battery in one unit cell, providing higher power discharge and longer life.

Just like any other battery for a hybrid vehicle, the Ultrabattery has the capacity to absorb wasted energy from braking. According to the CSIRO, it outperforms any other battery on the market for HEVs, is 70% cheaper to manufacture, and has 50% more power than conventional batteries. And it may not be just for vehicles- the battery is also being tested for use in wind and solar applications. Now if they could only figure out how to dispose of them safely.

+ Ultrabattery Project @ CSIRO

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  1. noah g February 21, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    the trick is not to focus on trying to dispose of them safely, but to make them so you’ll never have to dispose of them

  2. Nick Simpson February 21, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Hang on, Jorge is simply reporting what is in the article, don’t shoot the messenger…

  3. Snark February 21, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    All the CISRO website says about the 100,000 mile figure is this:

    “Recent testing undertaken in the United Kingdom has further proved the UltraBattery’s capabilities with a HEV surpassing 100 000 miles under strict and challenging conditions, using the power of the advanced battery system.”

    That’s it. A car with this battery has been driven for 100,000 miles for testing. It says nothing about recharge or replacement, nor about lifespan or cycle count.

    No offense, Inhabitat, but you could use a few more tech-literate people on your staff.

  4. Warren Brooke February 20, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I think going 100,000 miles on one charge of the supercapacitor/battery is a mistake. I can see 100,000 miles before they have to be replaced…but being recharged and discharged many many times within that 100,000 mile lifespan.

    According to an article in a recent “The Economist” magazine, supercapacitors are just reaching half of the storage capacity of chemical batteries. In the battery, you are storing electricity as “chemical potential” in the chemical bonds of materials, whereas in the supercapacitor, electricity is stored as the physical separation of charge on two physically separated collector plates. Batteries are great in that they can hold a lot of energy in a small space, but they take a long time to store energy. Supercapacitors (currently) can store less energy than batteries, but their strength is that they can put energy into storage very quickly, for example during braking of a car.

    I think the combination of chemical battery and supercapacitors makes a lot of sense. You get the ability to store a lot of energy in the battery, and the ability to handle rapid fluctuations (acceleration and regenerative braking) with the capacitors.

  5. ECKHART BEATTY February 20, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    I’m curious why there aren’t links to other sites in relevant U.S. orgs attempting to substantiate any of the claims here from any purely scientific basis.

    According to the CSIRO link, the technology was “tested in the United Kingdom through the American-based Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium.” I am unable to find anything about this testing or research at its website:

    Also, if they are recharged only after about 100k miles, what is the anticipated longevity of these batteries? Which comes first: their physical/chemical obsolescence or their expected duration of charge?!
    This strikes me as the distant polar opposite of “planned obsolescence.” How much further can we stretch the notion of premature technological senescence?

  6. Bruce February 20, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    The 100,000 number has got to be a mistake however I would like to find out what the real number is. The super capacitor just patented by Eestor (US patent 7,033,406) stores the equivilent of about 1.4 gallons of gasoline in energy and it is a revolutionary device. Is there a way to get in touch with the author of this article and have him go back to CSIRO and get the actual number.

    Also, apparently they use some sort of regenerative braking system with dumps charge back on the capacitor. Would be interesting to find out more about this also.

  7. Konnie February 20, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    protect these people at all costs……….they are in real danger.

  8. Bpaw February 20, 2008 at 8:45 am

    ToddF, I don´t think it´s a mistype, they´re called supercapacitors for a reason. A suercapacitor can hold hundreds of times the energy as a chemical battery (even a L-ion) of similar mass. For instance, a typical D-cell sized electrolytic capacitor will have a storage capacity measured in microfarads, while the same size supercapacitor would store several farads, an improvement of about 10,000 times. Larger commercial supercapacitors have capacities as high as 3,000 farads.
    (this info taken from wiki)

    They are really amazing.

  9. scott February 20, 2008 at 5:12 am

    Very nice and smart technology – has lots of potential. But I’m sure they will find a way to overcharge us for it!

  10. Hugo February 20, 2008 at 4:03 am

    This battery sounds good (not the 100.000 miles without charging, Gandalf the White has covered that). The absorbtion of wasted energy by braking is called charging the battery by a generator which brakes the car (on demand).

    Expanding the lifespan of the battery also reduces the impact if the battery is wrote of, less waste per timespan! Thus, great stuff, maybe try to put these in celphones?

  11. ToddF February 19, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    “is a high-performance hybrid storage cell that runs for 100,000 miles without **recharge** or replacement.”

    Witchcraft! Or a mistype. I’m kind of hoping for the former.

  12. Nick Simpson February 19, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    I’m sure they’ll figure out the disposal issue… Either way the environmental damage will be cancelled out a thousand times over if these figures are true – 100,000 miles, are you sure?!

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