Battery firm to make supercapacitors for heavy vehicles

Industrial battery specialist Saft has signed an agreement with Russian firm ESMA to cooperate in the development, production and commercialisation of supercapacitors based on ESMA’s technology for use in heavy vehicles.

The agreement enables Saft to add supercapacitor technology to its portfolio. Later this year, Saft’s US manufacturing facility in Georgia will begin production of a new generation of asymmetric nickel supercapacitors that will work in combination with batteries on heavy vehicles for markets such as industry or public transport.

By providing effective and reliable starting power for large diesel engines at low temperatures or in frequent stop-start usage the supercapacitors will allow the vehicle battery to be optimised for the application.

In addition to the main cooperative agreement with ESMA, Saft has also signed a distribution agreement for the supercapacitors with KBi (Kold Ban International) the US company specialising in diesel engine starting systems that is already an established ESMA distributor for North America.

ESMA’s patented asymmetric nickel capacitors feature one battery electrode mated with a double layer charge storage (capacitor) electrode. This combination is said to offer a number of advantages over symmetric designs including: improved safety; higher specific energy; more stable operating voltage; lower materials and manufacturing costs; voltage self-balancing in high-voltage strings of capacitor cells.

The construction is similar to that used in nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) cells, so ESMA’s supercapacitors can be manufactured on existing Saft production lines.

Since a supercapacitor stores energy electrostatically, with no physical changes taking place, it can have a service life of a million or more charge/discharge cycles. Furthermore, performance remains stable over a very wide temperature range (typically -40°C to +70°C). This makes supercapacitors suitable for providing cranking power for starting the engines of heavy vehicles at very low temperatures, especially when fitted to vehicle fleets that need to start and stop their engines many times during a shift.

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