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Nov 18

Ultra Capacitors – A New Hazard

Ultra Capacitors:

Ultra capacitors are here and they are here to stay.  Manufacturers have been seeking ways to reduce the weight of high voltage batteries for many years, and capacitors have always been a consideration when discussing the storage of high voltage in vehicles.  Although there are currently no high voltage capacitors (for use in vehicles) capable of independently powering the vehicle, Ultra Capacitors are being used to assist with acceleration.

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Risk:

As rescuers, Ultra Capacitors can present a serious risk of shock, or even electrocution.  Let’s start by quickly getting to know capacitors. Capacitors charge and release energy.  They are commonly used in devices such as camera flashes, defibrillators, and stun guns, where a large amount of power is needed for a very short time.

Power:

So how powerful is an Ultra Capacitor?  The 2014 Mazda 6 Ultra Capacitor is only 25 volts, so it will not easily overcome materials that have a high resistance, but it is capable of releasing 25,000 joules of electricity at one time.  To give you an idea, a defibrillator can release between 200 and 400 joules.  Because of the large amount of current available, we should avoid contact with capacitors at all times during our extrication / rescue, and never cut or crush them.

Identifying Ultra Capacitors:

Below is a few pictures;  the first one shows a close up of the Ultra Capacitor in the Mazda 6.  The second image shows the capacitor’s location in the vehicle.

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Shutdown:

Ultra Capacitors are shut down by disconnecting the 12 volt battery.  The vehicle is not equipped with an “automatic drain” for the capacitor, so it should always be treated as a “high voltage” component.

Here is a screenshot from the Moditech program – Crash Recovery System

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More information: 

For more information on this unique technology use these links – http://articles.sae.org/11845/   and   http://www.mazda.com/technology/env/i-eloop/

Here is a short video that explains how the Ultra Capacitor is used in the vehicle:

 Take Care & Be Safe – Brock A.