Automotive Use of Supercapacitors

Automotive manufacturers are introducing many new features which often require significant peak power or backup power support in case of power interruption. Supercapacitors can supply that power.

Supercapacitors deliver peak power to reduce size and weight

Key fob functionality is increasing, for example, to include remote climate control and encryption for improved security. This requires more power than a coin cell, such as a CR2032 cannot supply without suffering excessive voltage drop and premature shutdown. An HA102 supercapacitor is only 1.2mm thick and fits neatly over a 20mm dia. coin cell. Depending on the peak power drawn, it will enable applications that would otherwise not be possible or increase battery life by ~50%.

Supercapacitors distributed in the vehicle near the load can reduce the weight of wiring harnesses. Examples include blinkers and solenoids for door locks. In the case of blinkers, the supercapacitor can supply the peak blinker current while the wiring harness supplies only the average current = ½ the peak. This allows the cost and weight of the wiring harness to be reduced. Similarly for solenoids, where the supercapacitor supplies the peak current to drive the solenoid, but the wiring harness only need supply the charge current to the supercapacitor.

Supercapacitors can stabilise the vehicle voltage rail

The vehicle voltage rail can suffer sags, e.g. during engine cranking in stop-start operation. A supercapacitor can support the voltage rail and prevent interruptions to vehicle electronics such as the EMS, GPS, radio, etc.

Supercapacitors deliver uninterruptible power to enable graceful shutdown

Supercapacitors store significant energy with virtually unlimited cycle life. In the event of power failure they can provide backup power for essential systems allowing a safe stop, or provide power for emergency e-call. With practically unlimited cycle life a supercapacitor is a very reliable backup energy source.

For more details see Application Brief Automotive Use of Supercapacitors.