Hybrid supercapacitors to power rail rolling stock

David Beins, Deputy Director Research Engagement – UTS, Distinguished Professor Guoxiu Wang, Lead Researcher – UTS, Dr Shuwei Wan, CEO – HEC Group Australia, Dr Stuart Thomson, CEO – Rail Manufacturing CRC and Martin Lloyd, Acting Director Research and Innovation Office – UTS, at the project agreement signing in Sydney

The Rail Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) is overseeing a new project between the HEC Group and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to develop hybrid supercapacitors to power rail rolling stock.

This is the second Rail Manufacturing CRC-funded project between the HEC Group and UTS, and is a follow-on from the original project to develop lithium ion batteries to power rail vehicle propulsion, regenerative braking, signaling systems and auxiliary applications.

This new project aims to develop a hybrid supercapacitor with high energy and power densities and advanced supercapacitor management systems for rail.

“Supercapacitors have the potential to revolutionise the rail industry – these technologies could reduce the need for overhead electrical infrastructure and also aid in the future development of hybrid-powered trains,” said Dr Shuwei Wan, CEO, HEC Group Australia.

Founded in 1997, the HEC Group is a multinational enterprise with core manufacturing businesses in the areas of electronic materials, energy storage systems, intelligent electronic devices, pharmaceuticals and wellbeing products.

The implementation of this new supercapacitor technology will effectively provide voltage stabilisation for rail systems, greatly improve the performance of propulsion for light rail vehicles and significantly advance the locomotive engine starting technologies.

“This project is looking to develop a supercapacitor with an enhanced energy density through changes to cell chemistry, with hybrid supercapacitors expected to eventually form a large part of the energy storage market,” said Lead Researcher Distinguished Professor Guoxiu Wang, who is Director of the UTS Centre for Clean Energy Technology.

Powering rolling stock requires energy storage devices to be robust and reliable, with long service life and low maintenance. In response, supercapacitors have the ability to charge and discharge very quickly for up to 100,000 cycles.

“The development of enhanced supercapacitor technologies not only benefits the Australian industry, but the global rail market as a whole, so this is another important collaboration between the Rail Manufacturing CRC, the HEC Group and UTS,” shared Dr Stuart Thomson, CEO, Rail Manufacturing CRC.

Worth approximately $5.5 million, the project is expected to finish by December 31st, 2019.