Scientists from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), have developed a new lead-free, high temperature ceramic capacitor that could improve the efficiency and reliability of electric and hybrid vehicles.
Capacitors are a means of storing energy and are vital to the process of converting DC power from the vehicle battery into AC power in order to drive the motor. Current capacitors do not meet the necessary requirements, due to an inability to function reliably under the high temperatures created in electric vehicles.
The researchers at NPL have overcome this issue by creating a capacitor, called HITECA, that can operate close to normal efficiency at over 200º C (392º F), 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.
Tatiana Correia, lead scientist on the project, said: “The opportunities for electric vehicles are huge, both financially and environmentally, but they are currently being held back by a few technical issues. With this high temperature capacitor we believe we have solved an important one of those issues and will play a vital part in the move towards mass market electric vehicles.”