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High Temperature Capacitor Could Pave the Way for Electric Vehicle

Aug. 6, 2013 — Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory are helping to create electronics capabilities for electric vehicles, with the development of a high temperature capacitor.
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Electric Vehicles (EV) are hoped to represent more than 50% of worldwide light duty vehicle sales by 2050. The absence of suitable capacitors is one of the major barriers to meeting this goal.

Capacitors are a means of storing energy and are vital to the process of converting DC power from the vehicle battery, into AC power required to drive the motor. Current capacitors do not meet the EV requirements, due to an inability to function reliably under the high temperatures created in electric vehicles.

NPL have overcome this issue, as part of a Technology Strategy Board funded project. The outcome is a capacitor, called HITECA, that can operate close to normal efficiency at over 200oC, significantly higher than any other capacitor on the market. It also offers a high energy density — the measure of how much energy it can store.

The upshot for the electrical vehicle driver could mean an increased mileage range, reduced maintenance, and an enhanced driving feel.

To develop the capacitor, NPL investigated a range of lead-free materials that could have the desired properties to develop into a high temperature capacitor.

The scientists explored different compositions and different ways of fabricating them. They measured current at a range of high temperatures using advanced measurement techniques. The most promising materials were optimised to achieve the desired properties. The resulting capacitor is created from a ceramic, based on doped-BiFeO3 compound.
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