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Ultracapacitor Bus Recharges At Each Stop

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the fill-er-up-with-electrons dept.

Earth 419

TechReviewAl writes "A US company and its Chinese partner are piloting a bus powered by ultracapacitors in Washington DC. Ultracapacitors lack the capacity of regular batteries but are considerably cheaper and can be recharge completely in under a minute. Sinautec Automobile Technologies, based in Arlington, VA, and its Chinese partner, Shanghai Aowei Technology Development Company, have spent the past three years demonstrating the approach with 17 municipal buses on the outskirts of Shanghai. The executive director of Sinautec touts the energy efficiency of this approach: 'Even if you use the dirtiest coal plant on the planet [to charge an ultracapacitor], it generates a third of the carbon dioxide of diesel.'"

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419 comments

They must be powerful... (5, Funny)

unkaggregate (855265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802373)

the company name says it all!

*ZAP* Aowei!

Oh, first post!

Re:They must be powerful... (0, Redundant)

unkaggregate (855265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802495)

Troll?!?!? Really?
Apparently mods today are oblivious to puns and have no sense of humor whatsoever.

for the humor-impaired: Aowei=name of company Aowei (Owie!)=the sound you make when you get a nasty shock from a high voltage capacitor. With "first post" thrown in for humor's sake.

Re:They must be powerful... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802637)

It didn't get funnier the second time around. Cry moar, that might help.

Re:They must be powerful... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802709)

silly nigger

Re:They must be powerful... (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802779)

The posters and mods on this site are the same. There are a lot of nerdholes too. If it's an anonymous coward saying anything, you can ignore the poster because he's just a troll and would insult (insert religious figure here) just to get yelled at. It's the only way they can beat back the depression of their pathetic lives.

. . . Wait a minute, where did you get modded troll? I don't even see the original post! Ah, screw it.

Re:They must be powerful... (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802795)

Oh right, my threshold knocked it out. Silly me.

Can't believe you didn't... (2, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802701)

In soviet russia, ultracapacitor bus recharges YOU!

Next model (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802397)

The next model will come with a flux supercapacitor, and will generate several sequels.

The Flux Supercapacitor (5, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802677)

Is what makes bus travel POSSIBLE!!!

Re:Next model (0)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802859)

Shouldn't it generate prequels?

Until... (5, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802415)

Exxon buys them out, or lobbies against the tech and throws campaign money to the folks that make the municipal decisions, as big oil does with everything else progressive that possibly endangers their energy monopoly.

Re:Until... (2, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802429)

if they do it every time then providing an example should be easy.

go fetch.

Re:Until... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802553)

Done and done.

http://pppad.blogspot.com/2007/05/nimh-held-hostage-by-chevron-texaco.html

Re:Until... (1, Troll)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802885)

conspiracy blog = you fail.

Re:Until... (4, Informative)

mozumder (178398) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802995)

He won, because you didn't refute the points in his link, but instead gone into a whiny wharrgrbl mode that losers usually do.

Now, its your turn to prove that energy companies don't hold back technological progress to save their oil business.

Otherwise, the other guy is beating you.

Re:Until... (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802431)

nice tin foil hat.

Re:Until... (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802507)

I don't see how a tin foil hat will do anything about lobbyists.

Re:Until... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802557)

It will prevent them from reading your mind.

You never know what those lobbyists are up to...

Re:Until... (5, Interesting)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802555)

nice tin foil hat.

Here's a real world example http://greentransportandenergy.blogspot.com/2009/03/great-importance-of-wheel-motors.html [blogspot.com]

They had a working prototype, they approached Detroit to get their making-cars expertise... and the project gets quickly scrapped for no apparent reason.

Re:Until... (2, Informative)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802723)

There's a small problem with those... unstrung weight is really bad for handling, braking, and ride quality.

Re:Until... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802783)

There's a small problem with those... unstrung weight is really bad for handling, braking, and ride quality.

I don't know what unstrung weight refers to in cars... but as far as that prototype I linked about, it had a computer controlling the 4 wheel motors, which was really good for handling, braking, accelerating and ride quality.

Re:Until... (5, Informative)

redmund (955596) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802839)

He meant Unsprung Weight, or the weight of the wheel and suspension and associated components. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsprung_weight [wikipedia.org]

The effect of Unsprung Weight (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802865)

Is there a way to remedy the unsprung weight problem?

Anyone?

Re:The effect of Unsprung Weight (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802975)

Is there a way to remedy the unsprung weight problem?

a flat road with no bumps, or rail.

Re:Until... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802901)

He meant Unsprung Weight, or the weight of the wheel and suspension and associated components.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsprung_weight [wikipedia.org]

Ah, thanks for that info. I have no idea how the in-wheel weight affected the vibrations, but the computer control was meant to achieve high performance in acceleration (they had a nice demo on gravel, quite impressive), braking and handling (redistributing force one four wheel motors), which would compensate for that effect.
And let's not forget that the motors are the brakes, and there is no drive shaft, etc.

Re:Until... (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802929)

Is there any patent involved in the invention that you know of?

If there is, then there's no point of further research, since the patent holder would exert their right over everything else.

Re:Until... (5, Interesting)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802949)

So what they need to do is reduce the weight of these independent motors, or find a way to place the suspension within the wheel assembly itself. Some kind of circular leaf spring assembly comes immediately to mind. Imagine a wheel axel, surrounded by springs rather than hard 'spokes' that connect it to the rubber.

Kind of a 2 state suspension system with a small leaf spring system between the actual rubber and the motor, and then a heavier duty suspension between the axels and the rest of the car.

Re:Until... (1)

soundguy (415780) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802925)

That would be "unSPRUNG" weight. i.e. weight that is not isolated from the road surface by springs, airbags, or some other form of suspension.

Re:Until... (2, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802801)

And they helped kill streetcars [wikipedia.org] . Of course, that was in conjunction with general motors and many others, but they've also had around 80 years to evolve even better strategies for killing better options.

Anyone who trusts large companies to serve the public's best interest and willingly engage in competition they might lose should -put on- a tinfoil hat, one shaped like a cone that says "dunce" on it.

Combine this with the super-capacitor (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802843)

and we might get something that works !

Re:Until... (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802863)

That blog makes no such claim. It does mention this, though:

The performance of these wheel-motors have been tested in the laboratory, but at the time of the resignation of Dr. Couture, only 2 wheel-motors were installed on the Intrepid and the power electronics was not yet complete, hence the impossibility to have full testing on the road.

It's an interesting idea, but it may very well be impractical. If it was all that (and then some), why aren't toyota, honda, tesla, or even gm all over it?

Re:Until... (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802871)

"Conspiracy theories are popular among those who are more familiar with how Hollywood works than with how real life works." Best quote about conspiracy theories I've heard in a long time. It was said about the birthers and the 9/11 conspiracy theorists.

Re:Until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802989)

As you write this on your petroleum based plastic-ware (keyboard, etc.), petroleum based shoes (rubbers, plastics....etc.)

No petroleum, no computer-eum, shoes-eum, and all the way down the line.... Sucka'-eum!

- "I drink yoooour milkshake! I drink it up!!!"

In Soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802419)

...bus ultra-charges you!

Isn't this the same as a trolley? (3, Insightful)

srothroc (733160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802443)

Aren't these, in the end, pretty much the same as a trolley? The bus is really a mini-bus that holds 11 people. It uses 40% as much electricity as a trolley. If you expanded the bus to hold as many people as a trolley can, wouldn't the increase in size and weight (both bus weight and passenger weight) make it use more energy?

If so, then what's the difference between this and, say, a mini-trolley? I mean, hell, why not ultracapacitor golf carts or something?

Re:Isn't this the same as a trolley? (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802501)

We have trams (light rail) here in Melbourne. Maybe if you ran the numbers you could take away the overhead cables from most of the network and just charge the trams at stops and intersections. Might be cheaper overall that way.

Re:Isn't this the same as a trolley? (2, Insightful)

PPalmgren (1009823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802627)

Also, rails and cables don't make sense for a stop that will enver see more than 10 passengers in the outskirts of a city. The economics allow these buses better scalability. This would be nice in the US where suberbia reigns supreme. The only form of mass transit that really works in a city with low land value like mine is buses, because the houses are so spread out.

Re:Isn't this the same as a trolley? (5, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802531)

The advantage with a bus is that its much easier to add new stops and routes. You only have to build up the charging station, whereas with a trolley, one has to tear up the road, put in tracks, and build stations.

Re:Isn't this the same as a trolley? (1)

JohnyDog (129809) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802583)

The advantage with a bus is that its much easier to add new stops and routes. You only have to build up the charging station, whereas with a trolley, one has to tear up the road, put in tracks, and build stations.

Maybe trolleybus [google.com] then?

Re:Isn't this the same as a trolley? (3, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802635)

Well, this still has the issue of having to build (electricity) lines over the entire route. Here, you can localize the charging to only the bus stops, which reduces the infrastructure costs of getting the system going.

Re:Isn't this the same as a trolley? (1)

sanyacid (768747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802695)

I believe OP was referring to trolleybuses. Trams need rail tracks to be built into the road, but trolleybus is just like a normal bus on rubber tires, except that it uses electricity as a power source and constant connection to power line is required. There is no need to tear up the road for trolleybuses, but the power line must be built.

The advantage ultracapasitor bus has over trolleybus is that it can drive further away (as far as capacitor allows) from it's normal route than trolleybus.

Re:Isn't this the same as a trolley? (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802939)

That's both an advantage and a disadvantage, though. It's not only easier to add stops and routes, but to change or remove them. That makes the value of the transit to property owners considerably less--- someone might put up a condo building next to a metro station, confident that the station will be there for decades, but nobody is going to bank on a bus line.

Re:Isn't this the same as a trolley? (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802565)

Aren't these, in the end, pretty much the same as a trolley? The bus is really a mini-bus that holds 11 people. It uses 40% as much electricity as a trolley. If you expanded the bus to hold as many people as a trolley can, wouldn't the increase in size and weight (both bus weight and passenger weight) make it use more energy?

If so, then what's the difference between this and, say, a mini-trolley? I mean, hell, why not ultracapacitor golf carts or something?

Removes the moving-part-inefficiency, disruption, inconvenience, installation cost, maintenance cost, and unsightliness of overhead wires. I'm guessing that these charging ports would be cheaper to install and maintain.

Re:Isn't this the same as a trolley? (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802671)

A bus can drive anywhere. A trolley (as in a real trolley) draws its power continuously from wires. Thus it can only follow predefined routes that require extensive (and expensive and dangerous) infrastructure. This type of fast-charging capacitor system is sort of like a hybrid combining the best features of autonomous buses and externally powered trolleys.

No, thanks (4, Funny)

willoughby (1367773) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802449)

The cap's are under the seats?! Call me old fashioned (and it won't be the first time) but I'll take a cab, thank you.

Re:No, thanks (5, Funny)

santiago (42242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802541)

The gasoline-filled tank is under the seats? Call me old fashioned (and it won't be the first time) but I'll take a pennyfarthing, thank you.

Re:No, thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802741)

The gasoline-filled tank is under the seats? Call me old fashioned (and it won't be the first time) but I'll take a pennyfarthing, thank you.

Except for the fact that its much harder to ignite gasoline then to overload an electrical system.

Re:No, thanks (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802891)

Unless you're in the US. Every time I'm there I see someone on the side of the road with a car fire. What's with your shoddy cars that they just burst into flames?

Re:No, thanks (2, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802917)

you visiting riots or something? I have never once seen a burning car at the side of the road

Re:No, thanks (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802959)

You never see anything doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

I have seen car burning 3 times, all in the United States. No, not in riot, cars caught fire either overheating or electrical short or whatever.

Re:No, thanks (1)

zullnero (833754) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802979)

I second that. What are you doing, hitting riots? I've lived in this country for my whole life, 34 years, and I've never seen a car on the side of the road burning all on its own volition due to it being horribly bad. Maybe if another car hit it or something. We do car recalls over here if someone screwed up at the manufacturing plant. Or maybe you're confusing idiot drivers who never check their oil or water levels and screw up their engines with hapless people who just have crummy cars?

Re:No, thanks (5, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802761)

Springs and the support post are under the seat? Call me old fashioned (and it won't be the first time) but I'll take a horse, thank you.

Re:No, thanks (4, Funny)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802815)

Sharp vertebrae and powerful acids are under the seat? Call me old fashioned (and it won't be the first time) but I'll take a trusty pair of boots, thank you.

Re:No, thanks (4, Funny)

sincewhen (640526) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802997)

Sharp nails and powerful glues are under the feet? Call me old fashioned (and it won't be the first time) but I'll walk around naked, thank you.

Re:No, thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802835)

A saddle that will chap my ass? Call me old fashioned (and it won't be the first time) but I'll just walk, thank you.

Re:No, thanks (2, Funny)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802769)

Today's XKCD is extremely topical:
 
http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/bag_check.png

Re:No, thanks (4, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802777)

The cap's are under the seats?! Call me old fashioned (and it won't be the first time) but I'll take a cab, thank you.

"You can't get people to sit over an explosion."

--Colonel Albert A. Pope, 1890s bicycle and electric car mogul, on the newly introduced internal combustion engines.

Re:No, thanks (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802877)

That'll put a stop to all the hobos urinating on the bus seats.

been saying this for years (4, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802459)

people said i was crazy when i talked about this a few years ago. the best advatage of UC's is they don't melt when you discharge a huge current as batteries do, hello electric sports cars that kick the shit out of petrol engines.

Re:been saying this for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802617)

How about electric bus with Ferrari acceleration? I'll ride that!

Re:been saying this for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802665)

I've read about a prototype bus that used a carbon-fiber composite flywheel for energy storage, and was said to feel like it had Porsche-level acceleration, despite being powered by a mere 30hp internal combustion engine.

Re:been saying this for years (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802689)

Until the flyweel explodes because of an accident, and sends shards of ultra-high-modulus carbon fiber into all of the bystanders.

We've been doing this for years (0, Offtopic)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802687)

... in San Francisco, at least. They have lines of pure electric buses, with two power cables that run up to lines suspended over the road. You can see one here [wordpress.com] and I don't think this is particularly unique to San Francisco.

Is this to say that electric buses in San Francisco ALSO generate 1/3 the CO2? How are they lighter, since they aren lugging around huge ultracapacitors and regenerative brakes? How efficient are regenerative brakes? Could you put smaller ultracaps on existing buses and just use them to charge up from brakes, feeding the rest from the existing power lines?

Neat idea, but in reality, this doesn't seem like as big a step as it may seem. Might be nice to get rid of unsightly wires, though.

Re:We've been doing this for years (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802757)

It's not just that wires are unsightly; I imagine it's much simpler to create a new capacitor bus route rather than an electric route with overhead cables. With that level of infrastructure build-out, seems to me like they'd just go ahead and build a proper streetcar line.

Re:We've been doing this for years (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802951)

with ultra capacitors you just put 'lines' in every so often - perhaps at bus stops

I can see the design review meeting now... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802463)

Engineer: Sorry, the idea didn't pan out. The battery works, but it's got no capacity. Useless.

Marketing Guy: What do you mean, no capacity? It can't be zero if it works, right?

Engineer: Sure, but it gets drained in seconds by any sort of circuit.

Marketing Guy: They recharge as fast as they drain, right?

Engineer: Yeah, sure. but...

Marketing Guy: "Recharges in under a minute". Nothing on the market can match it. When can we ship in volume?

Title goes here (1)

AniVisual (1373773) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802467)

So this is like a train that goes on roads. But instead of having electricity all throughout the rails, it has them only on some tracks. And oh, if there's a red light, bye-bye, you're dead. What I think it'd do instead is be like a hybrid that has the ability to recharge at every bus stop. But I think it's an interesting idea. Being private means that there's no need to implement a system for billing the electricity too.

But then again, what provides the electricity? If it's more fossil fuels, then it's not being green; it's cutting diesel costs.

Re:Title goes here (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802529)

Capacitors could also be used to buffer the output from wind and solar power. Maybe your public transport could be programmed to only draw power in then seconds when wind power is available.

Re:Title goes here (5, Insightful)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802543)

Why would you be dead at a red light? If you're not moving then you're motors are drawing power.

Re:Title goes here (2, Informative)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802609)

What I think it'd do instead is be like a hybrid that has the ability to recharge at every bus stop.

That's exactly the sort of thing this system does. Each stop has a set of overhead lines that allow the bus to recharge its capacitors enough to get to the next stop.

But then again, what provides the electricity? If it's more fossil fuels, then it's not being green; it's cutting diesel costs.

From the summary: "Even if you use the dirtiest coal plant on the planet [to charge an ultracapacitor], it generates a third of the carbon dioxide of diesel."

Re:Title goes here (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802763)

Actually, the red light problem is easily solvable. The slower you go, the less power the electric motors need. You could track via GPS how close you are to the next charging station, and automatically turn off things like the A/C if needed to make sure the bus gets to the next charge point.

Re:Title goes here (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802933)

you caould also have smaller booster caps that a service car can haul out in case a buz does get stuck somehow.

soundes extremely dangerous (0, Flamebait)

yincrash (854885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802469)

isn't the voltage across ultracapacitors really large with a large charge? if that cap explodes, i could see it being very very bad.
also what about times when the bus doesn't need to pick up or drop of passengers? just stop the bus anyways?

Re:soundes extremely dangerous (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802549)

Bright side -- the bus is guaranteed to be on time due to its charging cycle. I don't know about you but the buses around here are horrid.

Re:soundes extremely dangerous (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802573)

if that cap explodes, i could see it being very very bad.

If the fuel tank explodes...

Re:soundes extremely dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802649)

Isn't petrol and diesel highly flammable? If any car or bus explodes, I could see it being ver very bad...

Sheesh, take a look around. Your laptop packs the energy of a hand grenade in its battery, your car's fuel tank has enough petrol to do considerable damage to a house, and overhead, there are wires just hanging there charged with enough electricity to kill you.

Look at petrol stations, for example. I wouldn't trust half the people that stop to fill up to change the batteries in a remote control properly, let alone manage the transfer of over 1,280MJ of energy stored in a highly flammable liquid that can be ignited using static electricity (possibly even generated from wireless signal) using a nozzle with a metal tip into a car they've probably owned for 10+ years (and may have 'maintained' themselves for some of that).

I'm sure that the capacitors will have to pass the most stringent safety standards possible before they are used commercially, like everything else in our socity.

And I'm fine with that...

Re:soundes extremely dangerous (0)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802813)

A gasoline tank can not release all the energy at once. You would need to have a fuel air mixture do to so. A battery still takes time to fully discharge, due to internal resistance. Your worst case is a fire due to overheating. A capacitor will discharge all the energy in under a second. Welcome to instant barbecue.

Re:soundes extremely dangerous (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802927)

Welcome to instant barbecue.

Dude, if you want to prevent supercapacitors from growing in popularity you should stop finding new uses for them.

Re:soundes extremely dangerous (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802707)

isn't the voltage across ultracapacitors really large with a large charge? if that cap explodes, i could see it being very very bad.

also what about times when the bus doesn't need to pick up or drop of passengers? just stop the bus anyways?

Don't they stop for traffic lights anyway? Don't see how much difference that'd make.

Wow (2, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802513)

Pretty neat. There's tons of other uses for this technology. Among other things, ultra-capacitors are probably the way to go for non plug in hybrids.

What if the bus has to detour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802539)

or becomes stuck in traffic? Is there a backup gas engine?

Re:What if the bus has to detour (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802955)

Would make more sense to have a backup battery.

High potential (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802593)

For urban locations where stops are seldom more than a block or two apart this makes for lower infrastructure costs, as no over-street trolly cables are needed.

The ability to alter routes would also be fairly flexible because you could tie into the power grid anywhere you need to add a station.

But the amount of power you need to deliver in a short time means that the stations have to have either the ability to acquire and store a massive charge in the between-bus intervals, (their own ultra-capacitors) or the grid inter-tie would really have to be massive enough to dump that much power into the bus in a couple minutes, for as many buses as you need to send down the line in rush hour.

A shorted capacitor might be fearsome fireworks display.

What happens in a traffic jam? (2, Insightful)

dido (9125) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802595)

I imagine the streets of many major cities may wind up getting traffic jams very frequently, so what happens if the bus gets stuck in such a one, and it takes an hour or more to get moving again (e.g. vehicular accident further down), or however long it takes to discharge the ultracapacitors? I suppose it may be necessary to install a backup engine that runs on conventional fuel, possibly just to run a generator which will charge the ultracapacitors sufficiently to get to the next stop.

Re:What happens in a traffic jam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802641)

the question of sufficient fuel supply exists regardless of what type of fuel you may be using

Re:What happens in a traffic jam? (2, Informative)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802643)

it shouldn't use any power just sitting there. capacitors do slowly discharge of their own accord, but an hour in a traffic jam shouldn't be a problem. they will have to turn off the a/c though.

Re:What happens in a traffic jam? (5, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802973)

Most caps can store charge for months or even years. They can store both high current and high voltage, but cannot deliver a sustained current. In that respect they're a bit like a high pressure air tank, where the gas doesn't change state to a liquid in the tank. (like CO2 does, those are called "constant air" tanks, and are more akin to lead acid batteries because they maintain their pressure until almost exhausted) Like an air tank can retain pressure for months without significant loss as long as there's no leak, so can capacitors.

I work on HV equipment and am all too aware of how capacitors (and things that behave like them... picture tubes in particular) can retain several hundred volts (life threatening) of power for months. Always have to discharge them before working on them, even if they HAVE been unplugged for a month.

Buses I've been on aren't known for their air conditioning anyway. When the bus is idling in a jam it's just sitting there and consuming almost zero of its power reserves.

Re:What happens in a traffic jam? (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802651)

Electric motors don't idle. Kill the climate control if something goes grievously wrong.

Coal power plant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802607)

"Even if you use the dirtiest coal plant on the planet"

How funny, I'd make a big bet that it is located in China.

No US company involved here.... (3, Interesting)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802655)

Sinautec, as I suspected, is a Chinese firm, with an office in VA.

http://www.sinautecus.com/contact.html [sinautecus.com]

Re:No US company involved here.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802981)

Sinautec, as I suspected, is a Chinese firm, with an office in VA.

http://www.sinautecus.com/contact.html [sinautecus.com]

An office in VA that happens to be its headquarters...

PIloting a Bus (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802661)

That's nice that "A US company and its Chinese partner" are piloting the bus, but I think it would be much more interesting to know who designed and built it.

Re:PIloting a Bus (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802847)

That's nice that "A US company and its Chinese partner" are piloting the bus, but I think it would be much more interesting to know who designed and built it.

Chinese did, and that "US company" is also Chinese. Now shut up and go to Walmart buy more Chinese stuff.

If this turns out to be viable... (1)

rcolbert (1631881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802725)

...there's no reason why every rental car shuttle bus and parking shuttle bus at every airport shouldn't be converted post-haste. Then to prove a point, let's go ahead and power them with the dirtiest coal plant we can find to see if the claims are true.

energy density (3, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802799)

The ultracapacitors are made of activated carbon and have an energy density of six watt-hours per kilogram. (For comparison, a high-performance lithium-ion battery can achieve 200 watt-hours per kilogram.) Clifford Clare, chief executive of Foton America, says another 60 buses will be delivered early next year with ultracapacitors that supply 10 watt-hours per kilogram.

Or, to put this in more sensible terms. 0.021MJ/kg (0.036MJ/kg next year) for an ultracap vs 0.72MJ/kg for a lithium-ion battery. Aka, the tiny bottom left square in this chart [wikipedia.org] . Compare this to, say, gasoline at 47MJ/kg or even hydrogen at 142MJ/kg and you start to get some idea of why people are excited about "the hydrogen economy".

Cheaper? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802849)

The article just says that the bus itself is cheaper than a lithium-ion battery powered bus. It doesn't sound like they are accounting for the entire charging system. I can see how ultracapacitors would be useful for this case, since a bus is extremely heavy and basically stops every half mile. Regenerative braking would wear out a lithium ion battery pack fairly quickly and wouldn't be as efficient.

Otherwise, I'm fairly skeptical that ultracapacitors are really that price-competitive with batteries. Anyone want to try to convince me?

Hottest Wholesaler Woman Coach Shoes,Handbags!! (-1, Offtopic)

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one point missed, tech lifespan (3, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29802915)

Last I checked, capacitors have a very long lifespan, many many years compared to what, 5-10 for lead acid and lithium ion. They don't get memory, their performance doesn't degrade over time. And unlike lead acid, they don't mind the vibrations and jolts of being in a vehicle. I'm not aware of any severe temp restrictions on them either - I know for certain that hotter areas of the country have to have different kinds of batteries because of how heat kills batteries. (moreso than cold)

So that makes them cheaper to run since you don't have to change out batteries for many thousands of dollars every 5-7 years like you do on the hybrid cars.

I got your range problem solved right here: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29802965)

Fisher Price figured it out years ago.
When the batteries dies, replace them.

Make the power pack standardized and quickly swappable.

You're welcome.

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