Researchers at the Electric Vehicle Symposium have presented some pretty compelling data that may change the way we see hybrid electric vehicles in the future.
In their paper, “An Evaluation Study of Current and Future Fuel Cell Hybrid Electric Vehicles Powertrains,” eight researchers from Belgium presented the results of their studies. They compared the fuel economy and performance of different fuel cell electric vehicle designs, including different combinations with supercapacitors and batteries, such as the hydrogen fuel cell supercapacitor hybrid electric vehicle (HFCSCEV?), or a hydrogen fuel cell battery electric vehicle (HFCBEV?). I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time to come up with initialisms later, because it’s going to be a while before these vehicles hit the road.
Until then, it does one well to note the changing face of the electric vehicle industry, especially when it comes to advancing energy storage technology. Currently, lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries are the go-to technology for electric vehicles, judging by their cost/kWh and Wh/kg ratings when compared to their longevity. After all, what good is an energy-dense battery if it costs ten times more or lasts just one-tenth of other technologies? Supercapacitors have the advantage of being both more energy-dense and can be cycled at higher rates, that is, more amperage.
This is good news for automakers exploring supercapacitor technology, such as Volvo, who is working on eliminating the heavy sealed lead acid battery and replacing it with structural supercapacitor body panels, or Toyota, who has been testing a supercapacitor in its TS030 Hybrid racer. Simply replace the conventional powertrain with a fuel cell, the lithium-ion battery with a supercapacitor and, according to the Belgians, it’ll be the most fuel-efficient hybrid electric vehicle of them all.