French company Nawa plans to manufacture a prototype of its Racer hybrid motorcycle that uses a supercapacitor to bolster its range. The company says using a 9 kWh lithium battery could provide about 110 miles of range, but adding a proposed 0.1 kWh ultracapacitor would increase that to 180 miles as well as boost peak power output.
Supercapacitors are batteries with high voltage limits that can fill and drain electricity quickly, faster than lithium-ion batteries found in electric vehicles. They’re large and expensive though, which is why cars from Tesla don’t have them even though the company purchased Maxwell Technologies, which has developed supercapacitors.
Power management — If they were implemented in vehicles, however, a supercapacitor could help improve battery management. Hybrid and all-electric cars today eke out efficiency and range using a process called regenerative braking — when a driver breaks, some of the kinetic energy generated is captured to replenish the battery.
But existing lithium-ion batteries can’t capture all of that energy fast enough, meaning some of it gets lost. Supercapacitors could act as a cushion, capturing more regenerative energy and also reducing stress on the main battery when the driver hits on the throttle.
Silencing the skeptics — Nawa faces skeptics who say that high-performance batteries can accept charge quickly enough that a supercapacitor wouldn’t make an appreciable difference. But the company is going to put its concept bike to the test. The company is working with Akka Technologies to develop the powertrain and aluminum body, while Faar Sas and its subsidiary Pronergy will work on battery management and power distribution.
The prototype bike is set to debut in the third quarter of this year. And even if it can’t deliver entirely on the performance front, with a design this handsome, we hope to see the Nawa Racer make it to market in one form or another anyway.