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Ultracapacitor - The Perfect Solution for Quickly Capturing and Delivering Power

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Ultracapacitors - The super components for power management? - by Tom Terlizzi


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Design Engineers! 5 Reasons To Use Ultracapacitors 

All electronic devices we have used have had one energy supply.  Engineers designing the device designed it to have too much energy or too much power at any given time.  Today, we see the ultracapacitor where you can leverage both energy and power and have high performance that cost less. Here are 6 reasons to use Ultracapacitors:

  1. High Efficiency - Ultracaps have a low equivalent series resistance (ESR) which make them more efficient use of energy (less heating and less cooling for energy storage).

  2. Supports Lower Operating Temperature when Compared to Batteries -Ultracapacitors do not rely on chemical reactions like a battery, so they can operate at a wide range of temperatures.  Typically from 65 degrees Celsius to -40 degrees Celsius.  This means excellent cold performance as a perfect fit for engine starting.  When you put Ultracaps with batteries, you can have a system that meets the energy requirements (battery) with the power requirements (ultracapacitor).

  3. High Current -  Since ultracapacitors are designed with very low equivalent series resistance (ESR) – they deliver and can absorb a high current.   They can be quickly charged making them great for regenerative braking situations (like capturing the energy of a train an other quick charge/ quick release scenarios).  There isn’t a battery made that can tolerate this charge/discharge rate.

  4. Long  Life Cycle -   The energy storage of an ultracapacitor is a highly reversible process.   The process will move charge and ions only and does not make or break chemical bonds (like a battery).  This process allows for hundreds of thousands of charge/discharge cycles without minimal change in your performance.  .

  5. Long Life-  There are no chemical reactions like in a battery, the energy storage of an Ultracapacior is a highly stable process which is capable of many years of continuous performance.  Ultracapacitors can be installed for the life of the system not on a regular maintenance routine like a battery (costing time an money).  


The Advantage of Low ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance) Ultra and Super Capacitors

ESR, which involves resistances of cell components, for example, electrolyte resistance and contact resistance between current collectors and electrodes affects the power delivery of a cell.  High ESRs restrict the rate at which supercapacitors can be charged and discharged, leading to power reduction and energy dissipation.


Applications

 

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Ultracapacitors are perfect for application where rapid power delivery is needed to fill a short-term power need, or the rapid capture of power is needed.  For example, capturing kinetic energy (train-braking, a fork-truck lowering a load, etc.), rather than transforming it to heat. This is their strength.  For long term energy storage, batteries based on Lithium Ion or Lead Acid chemistry remain the best choice. 

Typical Applications for Ultracapacitors:

  • Industrial braking systems
  • Burst/Boost power delivery for cold starting diesel or gasoline engines
  • Wind turbine pitch control
  • Hybrid vehicles to supplement batteries
  • Railroad braking
  • Industrial motor braking
  • Energy storage recovery
  • UPS & telecom system power stabilization
 

Next-Generation Energy Storage Devices

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