New York: Mostly used in windmill blade control, solar energy systems and other niche applications, supercapacitors could soon be used widely in cars and trucks to boost fuel efficiency, says a study.
Unlike slow and steady batteries, supercapacitors gulp up energy rapidly and deliver it in fast, powerful jolts.
A growing array of consumer products is benefiting from these energy-storage devices, with cars and trucks -- and their drivers -- poised to be major beneficiaries, said Marc Reisch, a senior correspondent at Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.
Supercapacitors were first developed in the 1960s, Reisch pointed out.
Researchers have since been pursuing new ways to improve them, but they still cannot store as much energy as batteries.
But recent advances have allowed automakers to introduce start-stop cars such as hybrids and gasoline-powered vehicles that shut down their engines rather than idle and start up again when a driver hits the gas pedal.
This type of system can help boost a vehicle's fuel efficiency and pave the way for new application for supercapacitors, the article pointed out.
Supercapacitor sales are expected to more than double over the next five years, and automakers are continuing to invest in supercapacitor research, it added.
The report appeared in the newsmagazine Chemical & Engineering News.