An advanced battery system developed by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) offers the potential for hybrid-electric vehicles with more power, greater electric range and reduced costs.
Called the UltraBattery, the new technology combines elements of a supercapacitor and conventional lead-acid battery in a single unit. Existing HEVs rely on nickel-metal-hydride batteries, with more powerful and compact lithium-ion chemistries currently beginning to reach the market.
Fitted to a low-emission HEV prototype, the new system allowed the vehicle to cover 100,000 miles (160,934 km) of durability testing last year at the Millbrook Proving Grounds in the U.K.
“Passing the 100,000-mile mark is strong evidence of the UltraBattery’s capabilities,” says David Lamb, chief of low emissions transport research at CSIRO.
“CSIRO’s ongoing research will further improve the technology’s capabilities, making it lighter, more efficient and capable of setting new performance standards for HEVs.”
The UltraBattery test program is the result of an international collaboration. The battery system was developed by CSIRO in Australia and built by the Furukawa Battery Co. Ltd. of Japan, with testing in the U.K. managed through the U.S.-based Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium.
“Previous tests show the UltraBattery has a lifecycle at least four times longer and produces 50% more power than conventional battery systems,” Lamb says. “It’s also about 70% cheaper than batteries currently used in HEVs.”
In addition, the UltraBattery’s supercapacitor-based makeup allows it to rapidly release and absorb its charge during acceleration and braking. This makes it particularly suitable for HEVs, which rely on electric motors to meet peak power demands and can recapture energy normally wasted through braking to recharge the battery.
Although testing is not yet completed, “the UltraBattery is a leap forward for low-emissions transport and uptake of HEVs,” Lamb says.