In about the same time it takes you to read this sentence, an entire electric bus in China just charged its batteries to 50 percent capacity.
Possibly one of the world’s fastest charging mass transit vehicles is operating in the Chinese port city of Ningbo. According to Clean Technica on their piece earlier yesterday (Aug. 5, 2015) on this revolutionary mass transit vehicle, the entire electric bus takes as little as ten seconds from start to finish to charge to full capacity. The catch is that the entire electric bus can only run a distance of 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles before the bus runs out of energy and has to be recharged again. But thanks to its quick recharge time, that range is all but a problem for a vehicle that only travels along an 11 kilometer route that includes 24 stops with several charging points at key locations on that route.
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Thanks to supercapacitor technology, the bus is able to charge and discharge quite quickly. If you’d like to read up on what this all technically means, check out this piece by UC Berkeley. Unlike a regular battery (including lithium-ion packs) which require chemical reactions to take place in order for an electric potential to take place, the charge on a supercapacitor is stored on the surface material inside the battery thus allowing for a fast charge. The only shortcoming is that the density of energy stored is significantly less when compared to regular batteries. Remember the flash units on your digital cameras? Those use capacitor technology to charge and recharge in similar manner as these buses.
Fortunately, these supercapacitor batteries can be charged and recharged for up to a million times or 12 years on a normally serviced bus. The port of Ningbo hopes to add more than 1,200 of these types of busses in the next three years. If there’s one thing China needs less of, it’s carbon-emitting transportation. These electric busses are surely doing their part.