Holden, the Australian GM subsidiary, will partner with CSIRO, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, to research and to develop supercapacitors, advanced batteries and energy management systems for the next generation of hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.
Holden and CSIRO began collaborative research into alternative propulsion systems with the ECOmmodore hybrid electric vehicle project in 2000. A modified version of a Commodore sedan, the ECOmmodore combined a 50kW electric motor powered by the first generation of CSIRO supercapacitors and a valve-regulated lead-acid batteries with a compact 95kW four-cylinder aluminium alloy gasoline engine. It delivered 6 litres/100km in the city (39.2 mpg)—some 50% less than a conventional model, while maintaining the performance of the standard V6 Commodore.
Electric propulsion will be the basis of practically all vehicle powertrains in the long term. These electric drives, regardless of the origin of the power source, will require electrical energy storage devices such as supercapacitors, batteries, or a combination of both.
Supercapacitors have a number of advantages over batteries in automotive applications. They tolerate rapid power surges very well. They allow the super-fast collection, storage and discharge of the electrical energy necessary for automotive applications. They are lightweight and suited to capturing or providing the high currents particularly associated with regenerative braking and full throttle acceleration. They allow our engineers to minimise the electric shock loads which would otherwise drastically reduce battery life and allow for better management of ‘rapid change of state’ events. Finally, they should outlast the life of the vehicle.
The supercapacitor storage systems we developed in collaboration with CSIRO for the ECOmmodore were at the time on par with the best in the world. However, we believe the energy density of the systems we are currently researching will increase by up to a factor of three.Dr Laurie Sparke, Chief Engineer, Holden Innovation