PORTLAND, Ore.—A change in architecture is promising to close the gap between semiconductor technology and battery technology, which has traditionally lagged behind semiconductors due to its dependence on unchangeable chemical reactions.
Instead of storing charge in a main battery—then doling it out to individual devices on demand—a new breed of hybrid capacitor/battery is storing just enough energy for an adjacent device for its exclusive use. Ioxus Inc. (Oneonta, N.Y.) says it is solving the "battery problem" by defining a new distributed-energy architecture.
"We have people using our hybrid ultra-capacitors for all types of applications that were challenging for traditional battery architectures," said Ioxus co-founder and Vice President Chad Hall. "When you need short-term or back-up power, we provide a device that satisfies those needs without all problems associated with traditional batteries."
Applications for the technology range from simple to complex. For instance, a simple flashlight using a hybrid ultra-capacitor can be charged in just 20 seconds, then used for up to two hours, according to Hall. And a complex regenerative braking system on an automobile can instead use a hybrid ultra-capacitor that charges every time you brake and stop, then simply restarts the car when you hit the gas--eliminating all the pollution caused by stop-and-start traffic, he said.
Automotive applications allow hybrid capacitors to be economically distributed around a vehicle, storing short-term energy where it is needed for powering LEDs, on-board computers, power windows, power door-locks and security systems. And in the event of a total failure—or even removal—of the main car battery, all hybrid ultra-capacitor powered systems will still work. Plus Ioxus estimates that electric vehicles making use of distributed hybrid ultra-capacitors rather than relying solely on a centralized battery can cut 20-to-30 pounds off their weight.
A handful of other makers claim to have similar hybrid ultra-capacitors to Ioxus', but none has duplicated its unique combination of features. For instance, Evans Capacitor Co. (East Providence, R.I.) has a higher-voltage lower-energy hybrid capacitor that is more akin to an ultra-capacitor alone than Ioxus' hybrid ultra-capacitors. And JM Energy Corp. (Yamanashi, Japan) has a "lithium-ion capacitor" that is more akin to a lithium-ion battery than Ioxus' hybrid ultra-capacitor. Ioxus, however, claims to have intellectual property that makes its approach work better than Evans' and be safer than JM Energy's.
This is truly a remarkable achievement by Loxus, concept shown here is really very helpful for so many day to day needs in electronics devices, other new links showing the applications of this capacitors in working devices are most welcome as that is missing in the article.
Ioxus (with an "I" not an "L") is really onto something here, I think. By distributing the storage task among powered devices--kind of like bypass capacitors but with storage--it should be possible to build devices that have no centralized battery at all, just a bunch of hybrid ultra-capacitors all harvesting energy from vibrations and other localized motions that usually just cause friction. Its a revolutionary concept, but will require engineers to rethink their architectures. Well worth a try, I say. What do you think?
Wow. this is probably one of the first technologies that I have read about that could really be a game changer.. simple (relatively to some emerging types) and mass producable( usable in cars and laptops and flashlights)
It seems silly to title the article "better battery" and then talk about capacitors. The article then describes the attributes of a having a capacitor engergy storage device as if it were different than a hybrid (with battery storage).
The ultra capacitors is not anew concept but the way Loxus is talking about distributed ultra capacitors with energy harvesting is something innovative.
Apart from energy harvesting , these ultra capacitors can also be charged in seconds at a charging station as against hours required for charging batteries.
The combination of energy harvesting and chargeable ultra capacitors can make a good combination for Electric vehicles.
As pointed out by Selinz , the title should be better ultra capacitors and not better battery.
This is a welcome development in the sense that the safety system of a vehicle for instance will not rely on the conventional battery.In event of an accident any survival part of the vehicle could function and aid for resuce of the occupants.
Safety: Distributed energy may not be a good match for automotive applications. Presently if a vehicle is involved in a collision the fire department cuts a battery cable to remove all electrical energy as a source of ignition.
This sounds promising for ultra low-power applications in which energy harvesting and ultracaps can provide all the power needed. The flashlight example is a good one -- probably only a couple hundred mA-hrs of energy storage needed.
But I don't see how these hybrid ultracaps can store enough energy to be practical in HEV's.
5KW/kg of this capacitor when compared to 3KW/kg of battery is attractive. A question What is the size of 5Kgs capacitors when compared to 3 kgs battery? I feel will be atleast occupy 5 times the space of the battery. One more question What is the leakage resistance of these caps?Can it retain the charge till the customer uses it?
Many of you commenting seem to miss the point "Ioxus hybrid ultracapacitors with built-in lithium-ion batteries enables distributed storage archtectures that works better than either technology alone."
Ioxus is mixing ultracaps WITH batteries. This is not a new idea, in and of itself. The novelty comes from its use- in cars. Many proven examples exist showing how the two TOGETHER work far better than just one or the other.
Having the caps located next to the load allows for huge current draws from the cap and then the battery can recharge the cap.
As emphasized in the article that EV can be one of the main application, it would be a very excited news. The EV development is totally hindered by the battery technology nowadays so if this breakthrough can finally be economic and reliable (safety?!), we can quickly move forward to build a lot of EV and make the word cleaner (hopefully)!
Frank Eory makes an essential point: "I don't see how these hybrid ultracaps can store enough energy to be practical in HEV's." There are two major types of auto power requirements (high wattage propulsion power and low wattage digital control electronics). Certainly it makes sense to separate the two but it makes little difference whether the storage is centralized or distributed. Low current power requirements can be met by standby ultra capacitors which are quickly recharged - or a small "digital circuit" battery. The challenge is how to store and quickly rechange the brute force battery to move the vehicle. Centralizing or distributing the storage devices doesn't change the total number of watts which must be stored.
Now that I have found "page 2" I see it is just a li-ion battery with large surface area electrodes, something silver-tongued grant-suckers have been doing for 10 years. Remember that Stanford guy using carbon nanotubes for the electrode? Remember EEstor, for that matter? So what this thing gives you is something with the disadvantages of both supercaps and batteries. All the chemistry, temperature, self-discharge, and cycle-life problems of a battery, with the low capacity of a supercap. But the architecture makes up for it, yeah sure. The primary application of this technology is to make the founders and VC rich while leaving stockholders broke and employees jobless.
I can imaging this hybrid solution working for some users, but I really don't see the need to put these devices together in a package? What is their target market? If you are going to use these in cars why would you put two (three with controller) different parts together which will most likely have different lifetimes, and should be easily replaced? If something like this is not already in the Prius, or other hybrids then we need some new engineers working on electric cars (or perhaps it just doesn't work in the field.)..
I am surprised that regenerative braking with supercapacitors/ultracapacitors storage is not a new idea and/or innovation. The idea has been there and it has been developed by Prof. Prabaaran's team in the university of nottingham in Malaysia in May 2010. Check out his homepage for more details : www.prabaharansrs.com
Besides that we have developed LED flash system with Hybrid power storage system involving Li-ion battery and supercapacitors. Recently, Prof. Prabaharan has developed a RC helicopter powered by a new hybrid power source (Li-Ion + Supercap) which has demonstrated longer Airborne together with elasping the battery life for almost 1.5 times.
Concerning Hybrid power storage, that has also been developed and addressed with smart power management system. For more details contact Prof. Prabaharan
It would be good to encourage some kind of research on hybrid technology than to criticise them as some of the above comments have been made. There are many products in the market which has its own importance. Regenerative braking has not only been developed by the group in malaysia but in various other places and some people who commented are just trying to give publicity to their work rather than giving some technical useful informations.
I wonder if this technology could have applications in solar energy storage as well? Solar's big disadvantage has always been that it only works during daylight hours. Anyone know if this technology has the ability to store energy for up to 12 hours or so?
The use of super caps is a great idea for short duration charge storage. I also like using them for protection from brown outs for motor controllers with high current inrush causing sudden IR drops. Using these for temporary keep alive power (during batter swapouts) is a great idea as well.
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