Advanced Carbon Electrode Materials for Superior Ultracapacitors

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

nCarbon, Inc.
12445 Alameda Trace Cir, Apt 225
Austin, TX 78727
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Car and fleet vehicle manufacturers must increase the average fuel efficiency of their vehicles. A viable, low cost solution is Micro-Hybrid technology. Micro-Hybrids are capable of shutting down their engine when coasting and stopped, and then rapidly restarting to move the vehicle forward, offering the highest marginal ROI for improving fuel efficiency of any hybridization design. Micro-Hybrid vehicles must store enough electricity to power the auxiliary systems when the engine is off. The unit that stores the electricity directly determines the number of times and duration that the engine can be shut down and therefore how much fuel is saved. Current electrical storage devices include batteries and ultracapacitors. Batteries have low cycle life and must be periodically replaced. Ultracapacitors last the life of the vehicle, are safe, efficient, and have high charge/discharge rates, but they have one disadvantage the current generation of devices doesnt store enough energy to power the auxiliary systems for long durations. NCARBONs team, while working in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin, has developed an advanced carbon electrode material that has been demonstrated to dramatically increase the energy storage capacity of ultracapacitors. This novel carbon has the highest accessible surface area of any material measured to date and a unique structure ideally suited for energy storage. NCARBON will further develop the carbon electrode material during the Phase I effort, advancing both the performance of the material and the commercial viability for manufacturing at large-scale. The Phase II effort will be focused on increasing the scale of the operation, delivering full-scale devices to customers, and validating the value proposition of our product with field testing in representative environments. Installing our ultracapacitors will increase the energy storage of a Micro-Hybrid system by over a factor of 3X providing cars with the capability to repeatedly cycle the engine on/off with sufficient energy left to power auxiliary systems. The market size is based on analyst projections that over 70% of cars will be Micro-Hybrids by 2025, a CAGR of more than 30%. We estimate this to be a $3.5B market opportunity for NCARBON, specifically. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: As discussed, advanced ultracapacitors will have a significant impact on improving automotive fuel-efficiency. In addition, ultracapacitors are already being used in city buses, electric train systems, power electronics, and grid applications, to name a few. Improving the performance of these devices will inevitably lead to more efficient use of energy.