Light Rail: Challenges, Risks and the Benefits of Ultracapacitors

As energy prices continue to rise, consumers and manufacturers of transportation vehicles are embracing alternative ways to conserve and reduce costs, and light rail is no different. The designs and uses of ultracapacitors make the technology a reliable technical solution for light rail. The primary options for this application are rolling stock (800 – 1500V) and way side storage (≤ 1000V), each with their own set of challenges and risks. Regardless of the application there are certain requirements expected from the ESS, in this case ultracapacitors.

The biggest challenge of light rail is the overall system costs and thermal capacity. The ESS must deliver high system capacitance and voltage (up to 1500V), low system equivalent series resistance (ESR), and a sustained high current/energy throughput.

Fortunately, the makeup of an ultracapacitor helps address these challenges (among others) with efficient throughput – the key to successful energy storage within in the rail market. Ultracapacitors charge and discharge quickly, making them ideal for voltage support needs and recovering energy that would otherwise be lost in light rail transportation. Ultracapacitors allow for high duty cycle and a sustained high current throughput, which is integral to energy efficiency and achieving the optimum level of energy regeneration.

Our recently launched iMOD X-Series™ is a new series of module systems containing features built to improve an ultracapacitor’s efficiency and counters the risks posed by light rail and other applications through advanced cell, module and overall system design. It offers a common, single-piece extruded housing for application across all of its axial ultracapacitors. The iMOD X-Series’ packaging helps to lower costs by minimizing material requirements and consuming up to 50 percent less volume than systems using competitor modules. It addresses unique thermal characterization as well, allowing every cell to be in thermal contact with the outside of the housing, thus resulting in even aging of the cells to create a longer lasting, more reliable product.

In April, we announced our ultracapacitors have been fitted to the railway wayside traction power on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in order to facilitate better acceleration, greater energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption. With the aid of efficient throughput, proper system design, and improved packaging methods, Ioxus has helped the LIRR reduce energy consumption by up to 30 percent.

- Any questions or comments? Feel free to send me an email ( or reach me on Twitter at the@Ioxus handle.

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    ONEONTA, N.Y.Jan. 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Ioxus uSTART® has received two fleet industry awards for sustainability by eliminating lead-acid batteries with its ultracapacitor-based, drop-in battery replacement.

    "With uSTART, fleets not only realize the benefits of improved starting reliability, there are equally important and real sustainability improvements from lead waste reduction," said Chad Hall, executive vice president and co-founder of Ioxus. "By replacing one of the batteries on a vehicle with a uSTART module, up to 15 fewer batteries are needed over the lifetime of the vehicle. This translates into 1,000 pounds of lead that will never need to be disposed of or allowed to affect groundwater."

    EU legislation on batteries is embodied in the European Battery Directive.  Its objective is to contribute to the preservation and improvement of environmental quality by minimizing the negative impact of batteries and battery waste.  As these preservation efforts expand, sustainable technologies develop to manage and mitigate these risks.

    Replacing a lead-acid battery with uSTART in a typical commercial vehicle creates measurable environmental benefits:

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