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Published: 29 April 2014

Supercapacitor project named one of the best in FP7

AUTOSUPERCAP – a research project paving the way for more energy-efficient Electric Vehicles – has won a prestigious Industrial Technologies 2014 best projects award.

Supported by €4 million of EC funding, the AUTOSUPERCAP project uses nanomaterials and nanoscience to develop innovative supercapacitors that offer both high energy density and high power density, and could dramatically extend battery life.

The Consortium behind the project is led by Dr Tina Lekakou, a Reader in the University of Surrey’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and an expert in materials processing, process and system modelling. Consisting of nine European partners, the Consortium includes MAST Carbon International UK, AGM Batteries Ltd. UK, Bayer Technology Services GmbH, Centro Ricerche Fiat-Italy and Oerlikon Graziano-Italy.

The batteries currently used to power EVs (Electric Vehicles) and HEVs (Hybrid Electric Vehicles) typically deteriorate within three years because they are unable to handle the high power phases during acceleration and deceleration. However the supercapacitor system being developed by the AUTOSUPERCAP project will enable cars to store energy generated during deceleration and re-use it during acceleration. It is estimated by Dr Aldo Sorniotti, the project’s co-investigator at Surrey, that this would extend battery life by between ten and 60 years.

AUTOSUPERCAP was named as one of the four best research projects funded under FP7 (Framework Programme 7) in the ‘ongoing’ category of the Industrial Technologies 2014 awards. Held on 10 April in Athens, the awards celebrated the most impressive completed and ongoing projects from over 1,000 launched under FP7 in the field of industrial technologies. The AUTOSUPERCAP prize was presented to Dr Lekakou.

She explains, “It is the application of nanotechnology that has enabled this research project. We have been able to increase both the energy density (how much energy is generated) and the power density (how fast it is generated) for automotive applications. By receiving and storing the braking energy and recycling this energy during acceleration, the supercapacitor offers a far more energy efficient solution than conventional battery systems – which could make an EV or HEV a more attractive and cost-effective proposition for consumers.”

“We were very excited to hear that we had won the Industrial Technologies award and that all our hard work has paid off. We are now looking forward to scaling up this technology and incorporating it into EVs and HEVs. Our next step will be to get involved in projects that implement supercapacitors in the grid.”

The AUTOSUPERCAP project has now been highlighted in a news story on the Horizon 2020 website.