Ultracapacitors 101

Our first installment will serve as a simple explanation of ultracapacitor technology: what it is and how it works. In simplest terms, an ultracapacitor is a portable energy storage device.

An ultracapacitor stores energy in an electric field, as opposed to batteries, which store energy chemically. The difference means that ultracapacitors can complete hundreds of thousands more charge and discharge cycles than batteries because they do not experience the standard wear and tear associated with chemical reactions. Ultracapacitors, therefore, last much longer than batteries.

To better explain how ultracapacitors store their energy, we need to examine their structure. Fundamentally, ultracapactiors are 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 ultracapacitors store energy. A simple explanation for the process is below:

When charging:
• Ions from the electrolyte gather on the surface of the two metal plates
• A charge (positive or negative) builds on each plate
• Each plate attracts ions of the opposite charge

When discharging:
• Ions are no longer as strongly attracted to the plates
• Ions distribute themselves through the electrolyte
• Charge on the plates decreases
There you have it – a plain English explanation for how an ultracapacitor works. We’ll be adding much more information throughout the course of the series; let us know what you think on Twitter!

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  • uSTART® Lead-Free Replacement for Truck Batteries

    ONEONTA, N.Y.Jan. 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Ioxus uSTART® has received two fleet industry awards for sustainability by eliminating lead-acid batteries with its ultracapacitor-based, drop-in battery replacement.

    "With uSTART, fleets not only realize the benefits of improved starting reliability, there are equally important and real sustainability improvements from lead waste reduction," said Chad Hall, executive vice president and co-founder of Ioxus. "By replacing one of the batteries on a vehicle with a uSTART module, up to 15 fewer batteries are needed over the lifetime of the vehicle. This translates into 1,000 pounds of lead that will never need to be disposed of or allowed to affect groundwater."

    EU legislation on batteries is embodied in the European Battery Directive.  Its objective is to contribute to the preservation and improvement of environmental quality by minimizing the negative impact of batteries and battery waste.  As these preservation efforts expand, sustainable technologies develop to manage and mitigate these risks.

    Replacing a lead-acid battery with uSTART in a typical commercial vehicle creates measurable environmental benefits:

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