The Role of Supercapacitors in Regenerative Braking Systems
A supercapacitor module was used as the energy storage system in a regenerative braking test rig to explore the opportunities and challenges of implementing supercapacitors for regenerative braking in an electric drivetrain. Supercapacitors are considered due to their excellent power density and cycling characteristics; however, the performance under regenerative braking conditions has not been well explored. Initially the characteristics of the supercapacitor module were tested, it is well
... ted, it is well known that the capacitance of a supercapacitor is highly dependent on the charge/discharge rate with a drop of up to 9% found here between the rated capacitance and the calculated value at a 100 A charge rate. It was found that the drop in capacitance was significantly reduced when a variable charge rate, representative of a regenerative braking test, was applied. It was also found that although supercapacitors have high power absorbing characteristics, the state-of-charge significantly impacts on the charging current and the power absorbing capacity of a supercapacitor-based regenerative braking system. This owed primarily to the current carrying capacity of the power electronic converters required to control the charge and discharge of the supercapacitor module and was found to be a fundamental limitation to the utilisation of supercapacitors in a regenerative braking system. In the worst cases this was found to impact upon the ability of the motor to apply the desired braking torque. Over the course of the tests carried out the overall efficiency was found to be up to 68%; however, the main source of loss was the motor. It was found that measurement of the state-of-charge using the rated capacitance significantly over-estimates the efficiency of the system.