Friday, October 16, 2009

Electric Buses Of the Future/Ultracapacitor/CNTs

Recharging would be done at solar-paneled bus stops.

By Emily Canal
Thursday, October 15, 2009

A popular sight from Shanghai will be brought to American University on Oct. 21, to present a green alternative to public transportation. The zero-carbon ultracapacitor bus, a vehicle powered completely by batteries capable of charging in minutes, will be unveiled at the event.

"I hope that we can educate people about technology as much as we can save the environment," said Dan Ye, the executive director of Sinautec Automobile Technologies based in Arlington. "I hope that we can replace a lot of diesel vehicles."

The ultracapacitor is a device placed inside the bus that can be recharged quickly to power the vehicle to the next destination. The model bus to be presented at American University can travel 45 miles between charges. There are also batteries placed on board to serve as a reserve energy source.

Ye said one of the advantages of the ultracapacitor is it can recharge in five to 20 minutes, compared to the three hours it can take regular buses. The battery can also be reused between 50,000 and 500,000 cycles.

"It can outlast the entire lifetime of the vehicle," Ye said. "Even after the vehicle has retired you can use the system for other applications."

Overhead chargers would be built at stops and would connect with the vehicles to give the bus the juice needed to drive to the next destination. Shanghai has been using this technology since 2006.

"The version we are showing is the version operating in Shanghai," Ye said. "I hope that in two to three years that we can ramp up the amount of power put into the vehicle using technology coming out of MIT."

Sinautec has teamed up with entities like MIT and the Stella Group, Ltd. to build a version of the bus for the streets of Washington, D.C.

"I find it exciting and more than just a job," said Joel Schindall, a professor of the electrical engineering department at MIT. "We are running out of our energy reserve … and I think it would really be an important step forward."

Schindall is also serving as the principal investigator with a group at MIT to find a way for the ultracapacitor to store more energy. Although no official contracts have been signed between Sinautec and Schindall’s group, Schindall will be speaking at the event about the carbon nanotube enhanced ultracapacitor.

"The ultracapacitor could store more energy, and right now that’s a limiting factor," Schindall said. "The buses can make good use of the ultracapacitor, but they have to be recharged frequently."

Schindall said the nanotubes are carbon atoms that look like tubular rods and resemble shag carpeting. The array of nanotubes has more surface area and can store more energy.

"I think one of the hardest things is the vicious cycle any product that is new and made in small quantities is going to cost more than a mature product," Schindall said. "It will get started but it will be a slow process."

Ye said a typical bus in New York costs between $.70 to $1 per mile for diesel to operate, and the bus usually travels about 100 miles a day. The ultracapacitor would cut carbon emission by 70 percent and cost about $.15 to $.20 to operate per mile.

"Electricity is much cheaper and if you look at the costs of the entire lifetime you would make all the money back," Ye said. "The demonstration would show that this technology is possible and its possible to run carbon free."

Scott Sklar, president of the Stella Group, Ltd. is working with the project to help add solar charging to the bus stations.

"The technology of the 1800s was great, but this is the 21st century and its time to move on," Sklar said. "I like horse and buggies and it was great technology but not in the Capital Beltway."

Sklar said the ground solar panels would face south and resemble bleachers. As passengers boarded the bus, the electronic control equipment would plug in and charge the vehicle.

Sklar said the charging process is great for popular bus stations where it takes several minutes for passengers to get on and off the vehicle. He expects the bus will need five to seven minutes to recharge.

"This is good for people who are not exposed to this stuff," Sklar said. "You can come and touch it and see it’s not as scary as it sounds."


Sinautec Automobile Technologies

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Ultracap Bus

Eleven Seat Minibus

Ultracap Golf Cart

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Vehicle Size: 37 Feet 6 Inches Length
8 Feet 2 Inches Width
11 Feet 1 Inch Height
41 Passengers
Maximum Speed: 30 MPH
Power Source: 5.9 KWH Ultracapacitors
Electric Usage: 1.5 KWH per Mile
Recharging Time: 5-10 Minutes*
Maximum Range 3.5 Miles with full air conditioning
5.5 Miles without air conditioning
Bus Weight 12.5 Tons
Acceleration: 4 Feet / Second
Maximum Slope: 12 Degrees
Voltage & Current: 600-720V, 200A
Air Conditioning: 15 KW Air Conditioning
Vehicle Life: 8-12 Years
* Charging time varies depending on charging station voltage.

Ultracap Hybrid Bus
Ideal for on-campus shuttle or urban municipal bus lines. Compare to the Ultracap Bus, Ultracap-Battery Hybrid Bus offers the advantage of extended range.

Vehicle Size: 37 Feet 6 Inches Length
8 Feet 2 Inches Width
11 Feet 1 Inch Height
41 Passengers
Maximum Speed: 33 MPH
Power Source: 2.25 KWH Ultracapacitors**
60 KWH Lead Acid Batteries***
Electric Usage: 1.5 KWH per Mile
Recharging Time: 5-10 Minutes for Ultracapacitors*
6 hours for Lead Acid Batteries
Maximum Range 45 Miles with full air conditioning
Bus Weight 12.5 Tons
Acceleration: 4 Feet / Second
Maximum Slope: 12 Degrees
Voltage & Current: 600-720V, 200A
Air Conditioning: 11.6 KW Air Conditioning
Vehicle Life: 8-12 years
Battery Replacement Every 18 Months
** Lead Acid Battery-Ultracapacitor ratio can be customized to fit client's needs
*** Other Forms of Batteries available

Sinautec is an Arlington, Virginia-based company that develops high energy density ultracapacitors in the transportation and utility energy storage markets. With its research partner, Shanghai Aowei Technology Development Company, Sinautec successfully developed a series of ultracapacitor municipal buses that have been in commercial use in the greater Shanghai area since 2006. “It is our goal to contribute to the Obama Administration’s efforts to improve the environment and to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil,” said Mr. Ye.

Shanghai Aowei Technology Development Company Patent Position
(Supercapacitor + carbon and/or nanotube)

Schindall ultracapacitor patent filings:
WO 2007131217
US Patent Application 20070258192

What is claimed is:

1) Engineered structure for charge storage comprising: an electrolyte disposed between two electrically conducting plates, each plate serving as a base for an aligned array of electrically conducting nanostructures extending from the surface of each plate into the electrolyte, the nanostructures having diameters and spacing comparable to the dimension of an ion of the electrolyte; and an electrically insulating separator between the two plates.

2) The engineered structure of claim 1 wherein the nanostructures are nanotubes.

3) The engineered structure of claim 2 wherein the nanotubes are single-wall nanotubes.

4) The engineered structure of claim 3 wherein the single wall nanotubes have a length in the range of 60 to 500 μm.

MIT - Technology Review Article:
Next Stop: Ultracapacitor Buses
A U.S.-Chinese venture is out to prove the benefits of quick-charge buses.