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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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)
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