Government cash for hybrid power

Hampshire-based Nanotecture has been awarded a £375,000 government grant to support a two-year research and development project called Next Generation Super-capacitors for Hybrid Vehicle Applications. The research involves collaboration between Nanotecture, Johnson Matthey and HILTech Developments.

The project will demonstrate the use of Nanotecture’s nanostructured material in a power supply system for hybrid electric vehicles, using super-capacitor technology. This is designed to improve performance and increase overall energy efficiency, which in turn will have an impact on CO2 emissions.

Hybrid electric vehicle and electric vehicle technologies require the assistance of super-capacitors to provide sufficient power levels during acceleration and to increase overall energy efficiency via mechanisms such as regenerative braking, which recharges batteries by recovering energy created when applying the brakes.

‘Everybody knows batteries are excellent at storing energy, but not at delivering energy quickly,’ said Nanotecture’s chief executive Dr Chris Wright. ‘A super-capacitor is an electrical cell device that stores some energy — not as much as a battery — but to compensate, it can deliver it very quickly.’

The company’s material contains nanopores, which enable chemical processes to take place more rapidly, thus generating more power, explained Wright.

He added: ‘Super-capacitors have been under development for some time, but the development thrust here is to get more energy and power per unit volume, and the materials developed enable us to push power capability that much further.’

Nanotecture hopes to have a prototype system ready for evaluation against particular driving loads before the end of the project. But the company said it aims to supply bus and vehicle systems for further evaluation in around 15 months’ time.