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CSIRO UltraBattery Passes 100,000 Miles in HEV Track Testing

The 12V, 8.5 Ah prototype UltraBattery for HEVs.

A hybrid electric test vehicle equipped with a CSIRO UltraBattery system (earlier post) recently passed 100,000 miles (161,000 km) on the test track. The UltraBattery combines an asymmetric supercapacitor and a lead acid battery in a single unit, creating a hybrid car battery that lasts longer, costs less and is more powerful than current technologies used in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).

In comparison to conventional Valve-Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries, the UltraBattery shows superior input and output power through a wide state of charge (SOC) range and partial state of charge (PSOC) life.

CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, is Australia’s national science agency.

Previous tests show the UltraBattery has a life cycle that is at least four times longer and produces 50 per cent more power than conventional battery systems. It’s also about 70 per cent cheaper than the batteries currently used in HEVs.

—David Lamb, Energy Transformed National Research Flagship

The UltraBattery also has the ability to provide and absorb charge rapidly during vehicle acceleration and braking, making it particularly suitable for HEVs, which rely on the electric motor to meet peak power needs during acceleration and can recapture energy normally wasted through braking to recharge the battery.

Over the past 12 months, a team of drivers has put the UltraBattery to the test at the Millbrook Proving Ground in the United Kingdom, one of Europe’s leading locations for the development and demonstration of land vehicles.

The UltraBattery test program for HEV applications is the result of an international collaboration. The battery system was developed by CSIRO in Australia, built by the Furukawa Battery Company of Japan and tested in the United Kingdom through the US-based Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium.

UltraBattery technology also has applications for renewable energy storage from wind and solar. CSIRO is part of a technology start-up—Smart Storage Pty Ltd—that will develop and commercialize battery-based storage solutions for these energy sources.



It is worth mentioning that this kind of battery is limited in charge and discharge characteristics by the capacitance of the ultra-capacitor built into it. This means that it can stand short bursts of charges and discharges but not continuous ones.

However, this is not a problem with simple hybrid mode.

I suppose, this battery is not applicable for pure EVs and PHEVs.

Rafael Seidl

This type of combined storage system is intended to support the short power bursts required for start-stop functionality of high-displacement and diesel engines, plus limited brake energy recuperation and acceleration boost from standstill. Example applications might include garbage trucks, delivery trucks, buses and taxis.

It is not necessary for every storage system to be designed for BEVs and PHEVs.

Harvey D

Many were wondering why this combo (lower cost lead battery + super-cap) was not tried before. Those two seem to be ideal companions for extended battery life operation + much better quick charge/discharge for better accellerations + improved decelleration (breaking) power recouperation.

Would Firefly + Super Caps do even better?

Wouldn't Combo super cap + Nimh and/or Li-on also offer better performance + extended battery life?

Don't see why Toyota is not on this approach already for improved HEV/PHEV?

Harvey D

Many were wondering why this combo (lower cost lead battery + super-cap) was not tried before. Those two seem to be ideal companions for extended battery life operation + much better quick charge/discharge for better accellerations + improved decelleration (breaking) power recouperation.

Would Firefly + Super Caps do even better?

Wouldn't Combo super cap + Nimh and/or Li-on also offer better performance + extended battery life?

Don't see why Toyota is not on this approach already for improved HEV/PHEV?

Alex Kovnat

Improved lead acid batteries and ultracapacitors are nice, but it will be a tremendous frustration if some unresolvable showstopper issue arises with lithium ion batteries.

Rafael Seidl

@ Harvey D -

Valeo is using such a combo for its Stars-X system and, it has been suggested by numerous researchers as a way to defuse the power vs. capacity vs. longevity demands on battery packs.

The difficulty lies in managing the power flows, given that the voltage across the ultracap bank inherently varies a factor 2-4 with SOC while that across the battery terminals is almost constant until SOC reaches very low levels (30-50%).

Another issue is that CARB massively favored vehicles with high all-electric range in its ZEV legislation. The bias will be sharply reduced in 2008 and eventually disappear. Up to now, it was more interesting for (H)EV developers to spend their budgets on capacity rather than power.


@Harvey D:
If the Firefly battery will work, that could be a great advantage, energy capacity wise.

BTW, Toyota has some experience with super caps albeit with race cars: see


I think that I might want separate caps like AFS does. I can more closely control the charge/discharge rates and currents, add more or less caps or batteries and change technologies as they evolve.


@sola, I'm sure this approach will work equally well in every battery - power application regardless of breed instantanious outputs (or startup) are what electric machines are all about 1st 2nd and third.
The assymetric in a single unit hence matched is the "new" part.

Harvey D


Regulating voltages and large charge-discharge currents is still a challenge but is very doable at a rather low cost when such controllers are mass produced. Electronics do go down in cost very quickly.

A combo power pack may be very advantageous if you can extend batteries life by up to 5X while getting more accelleration power and recouperatng more decelleration/braking energy.

The super-caps + controller cost may be completely offset with the use of smaller batteries and extended batteries life.

Harold Waldock

The future is here - somewhere in labs or garages.
Honda has a proprietary ultracap technology already developed and demonstrated. They use it in their hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that is a series hybrid.

Henry Gibson

Ultracapacitors are very good for very short power bursts. Micro flywheels could do as well with more effort made for mass production. Air-pressure hydraulic may be the cheapest high power energy storage device with all of the efforts going into building ultra-high-pressure hydrogen storage tanks. One Un-interruptable power system combines conventional air tanks with cheaper flywheels, hot steel and a small turbine. BMW is reported to be trying out a steam system combined with a regular engine. A coal burning steam turbine locomotive that looked like its fellows but was more efficient than they and ran for ten years or more. Modern metals and other materials allow much higher performance in automobiles.

It is not obvious to some that automobiles provide other functions than transportation. The transportation function of most automobiles can be provided with a very few horsepower and light weight and simplicity as in the Ford model T, the Citroen and the Volkswagen. It is also now provided by very cheap used cars. The low cost of a cheap used car allows a lot of gasoline to be bought. The function of a TOYOTA PRIUS is a technology demonstrator and a piece of engineering art. It represents affordable transportaion as much as the Tzero, Wrightspeed, Tesla and all similar cars that use AC propulsion's very expensive drives do; Bentley cars are more transportation. Bugattis are art as well.

The future promise of very expensive Lithium based batteries for cars has seemed to have killed off the real availability and demonstrated capabilities of the ZEBRA battery. BETARD UK seems to have dissappeared. I must thank them for all of their efforts to produce a safe, long-lived, maintenance-free, efficient and simple battery system. The use of such batteries would have saved more energy at lower cost than hydrogen fuel cells ever will.

I give thanks to the fuel-cell bessoted California CARB board that a TOYATA PHEV with a hundred mile range on Zebra batteries has not been cruising the California Freeways for ten years. GM and the oil companies are blameless; Neither GM or EXXON would have promoted seat belts or airbags or catalytic converters on their own.

I hope to see Firefly, EFFPOWER and Atraverda each demonstrate a lead chemistry PRIUS, soon, just like CALCARS did a few years ago.

If cost and transportation were the sole issue, small gasoline or diesel (OPOC or NOAX) air hydraulic hybrids would be the economical answer. Just try to brag about your one piston NOAX crankless hydraulic pump or your thirteen pound OPOC engine. You could try even harder with a one kilo RCV engine.

The Parry People Mover with its small diesel hydralic pump and a giant flywheel is the perfect answer for moving people on rails. Electric powered versions could run on the NYC subways at night and even make it out of tunnels into the stations when power failed...HG...

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