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PbA Battery-Supercapacitor System: Concept Design Demonstration

Research Scholar

Simone Fiorenti, Center for Automotive Research (Italy)
Jacopo Guanetti, Center for Automotive Research (Italy)
Yann Guezennec, Faculty Mentor
Simona Onori, Faculty Mentor

Biographies

Simone Fiorenti was born in Tirano, Italy in 1986 and attended the Industrial Technical Institute high school in Sondrio, Italy from 2000-2005. He worked as a technician in a textile industry for one year before enrolling in Politecnico di Milano in the 2006, where he received both a bachelor's degree (2009) and a master's (2011) in automation engineering. Currently Fiorenti is a visiting scholar at the Center for Automotive Research. His interests are the modeling and simulation of a PbA battery-Superacapacitor system, with particular regard to automotive applications application.

Jacopo Guanetti was born in Varese, Italy in 1987. He attended the high school in Varese, Italy, from 2001 - 2006. He received a bachelor's degree (2009) and a master's (2011) in automation engineering, both from Politecnico di Milano. He is currently a visiting scholar at the Center for Automotive Research at The Ohio State University. His research field is the modeling and simulation of a PbA battery-Superacapacitor system, with particular regard to automotive applications application.

What is the issue or problem addressed in your research?

Batteries are probably the most  common device for the storage of electric energy; however, significant issues can come out in their usage. When used to power a vehicle, a battery pack is more cumbersome than a tank of gasoline, in terms of both weight and volume. Moreover, batteries have a limited life, which length can be significantly reduced, e.g. by the operation in a harsh environment or by the processing of high currents. On the other hand, supercapacitors are devices for energy storage capable of processing high currents, which are quite likely in vehicle power applications; yet, less energy can be stored in supercapacitors than in batteries.

What methodology did you use in your research?

Our research focuses on the development of a hybrid energy storage system combining these two devices. Our first step was the development of a mathematical model capable of reproducing the behavior of the real system. This required both theoretical work and appropriate experiments, which were performed initially on the two separate devices and eventually on the combined system. The model was used to properly design the system and to better understand its functioning; moreover, model simulation allowed us to assess the advantages of the combined system compared to a standalone battery.

What are the purpose/rationale and implications of your research?

The introduction of the supercapacitor has positive effects on the battery life, since the highest currents are generally processed by the supercapacitor, while the battery experiences less severe operating conditions. The overall performances increase too, since the combined system is capable of processing higher currents than a standalone battery, and of operating in a wider operative range; for example, unlike batteries, supercapacitors can deliver high currents even at very low temperatures. Moreover, the introduction of the supercapacitor generally allows to downsize the battery, thus reducing the overall weight, volume and cost.