Why the Path Forward for Energy Storage Starts with Carbon

An ultracapacitor can be made from many materials and come in many different shapes and sizes. However, there are three main commercial offerings of capacitor energy storage (Symmetrical EDLC, Asymmetrical, and LiC) each with its own unique design and application. Yet as you read through the pros and cons below, one version stands out as the proven technology for the markets it serves.

Symmetrical EDLC: Also known as an ultracapacitor or Double Layer Capacitor, is two metal plates coated in activated carbon and then immersed in an electrolyte and isolated from each other by a separator. When you add a voltage (such as when charging) an electric field develops, which is how these ultracapacitors store energy.

  • Double-layer carbon capacitors are currently in high volume and a number of manufacturers are expanding production to meet global demand. See our recent release announcing the opening of our second manufacturing facility in the US. Demand is driven by the effectiveness of the double-layer carbon capacitor design within the transportation sector. Its high power and energy density, wider temperature range, and lower cost make the technology ideal for automotive and bus use.

Asymmetrical: a capacitor with two different electrodes, often referred to as a hybrid capacitor.

  • Asymmetrical capacitors have a low production rate with only a small handful of manufacturers and are not likely to see an increase in volume in the near future. While they have higher energy density than a traditional ultracapacitor, they have a much higher ESR or equivalent series resistance, resulting in a considerably lower power density. Also, due to its battery portion of the electrode, it has a lower cycle life (typically less than 20k cycles), a slower charge rate, and heavier weight.

LiC: functions primarily as an asymmetrical capacitor, however it has a lithium material embedded into the carbon electrodes.

  • The jury is still out on lithium-ion capacitors, or LiC. While they have the potential for major applications, there is very little production and no high volume. A LiC costs less per unit of energy, has higher energy density, however its power and cycle life are mediocre.

It’s clear that symmetrical double-layer carbon capacitors are paving the path forward for advancing energy storage by allowing for high duty cycle and a sustained high current throughput – an integral factor to energy efficiency and achieving the optimum level of energy regeneration. Two primary reasons for this productivity are a higher thermal capacity and more efficient packing of cells and modules. The double-layer design allows a great amount of energy/power through the system with the lowest amount of heat generation as possible, with the ability to dissipate that heat quickly.

As new technologies are investigated, thermal capacity remains the key to energy efficiency no matter the type of capacitor. Improved packaging methods, such as in our iMOD X-Series™, ensures even aging of the cells to create a longer lasting, more reliable product.
- Questions or comments? Feel free to send me an email (CHall@ioxus.com) or reach me on Twitter at the @Ioxushandle.

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    Ioxus, designers and manufacturers of smart power solutions based on its widely used ultracapacitor technology, today announced that it was named a Bronze winner in the Engine Enhancement category of the 2018 Edison Awards. The announcement was made at the Edison Awards Gala in New York City.

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    Inspired by Thomas Edison’s persistence and inventiveness, the Edison Awards are judged by a panel of more than 3,000 leading business executives, including past award winners, academics and leaders in the fields of product development, design and engineering. The judges recognize products as true innovations in their category.

    In addition to the Awards Gala, the annual Edison Awards program encompassed a full-day, “Meet the Innovators Forum” and the, “Innovators’ Showcase,” which offered guests a hands-on experience with read more...

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