Supercapacitors usurp batteries
By Dr. Peter Harrop, Chairman of IDTechExElectronics Power Supply / Management batteries lead acid Li_Ion supercapacitor
Replacement of Li-Ion batteries and ‘kill’ lead acid units
What do you now purchase by the kilowatt hour? The new supercapacitors replacing batteries, according to a new report from IDTechEx. The report shows how supercapacitors have started to replace 10% of lithium-ion batteries and help kill lead-acid. At route end, urban buses and light trains will charge in 20 seconds, and escape eye-watering battery replacement costs.
Lithium-ion batteries were selling at the billions of dollars a year level when they hit 100Wh/kg. Aowei and Toomen newly sell supercapacitors with that compactness, Nippon Chemicon and others next. Compared to batteries, supercapacitors are safer, tolerate overcharge, avoid complex battery management systems. Most are now non-flammable, non-toxic, incur no costly misery of controlled disposal, provide lowest total cost of ownership. Waste 14% less electricity, grab twice the regenerative energy from crane or truck. Life in use fourfold better, cycle life and power density tenfold, four times less kWh needed for intense power cycling (deep discharge not battery “sipping”).
Supercapacitor backing that stretches to fit
The second breakthrough is Geely putting large peak-shaving ones in hybrid cars from 2021, others following, market potential also billions of dollars. The third breakthrough is new formats impractical with batteries from a Lamborghini self-healing car with supercapacitor bodywork to a wearable sensor film with supercapacitor backing that stretches to fit and can be cut to size.
Improved supercapacitors and their variants enable huge opportunities in minigrids, trains, trams, trucks, heavy off-road vehicles, tiny uninterruptable power supplies for IOT nodes using energy harvesting, 1MWh giants for hospitals, data centres. Already, they drive brain scanners, lift Maglev trains, power rail and laser guns, go into deep space and provide the only trustworthy backup for wind turbine blade adjustment, vehicle brakes, aircraft and bus doors. They variously operate well at anything from minus 40C to sometimes 150C, even their ubiquitous 85C meaning less or no cooling compared to batteries. Supercapacitors love the trend to safety, no toxigens, fastest charging and fit-and-forget.