Ultracaps 101: Selecting the right solution

So, let’s go back to basics.

You’re looking at energy storage solutions, and you need to brush up on your technology options. It’s time to study the ultracap.

What is an ultracapacitor?
Ultracapacitors, like all capacitors, have a high power density. What differentiates ultracapacitors from their traditional counterparts, electrolytic capacitors, is their high energy density, allowing them to store a vast amount of energy in a small package.

Why do engineers choose ultracapacitors?
The capacitors with which most design engineers are familiar have short time constants, which means their voltage cycles quickly. By contrast, ultracapacitor arrays have time constants of the order of tens of seconds to minutes. The large capacitance and extremely low frequency time constants allow ultracapacitors to be used in applications that have not been practical or economical for other types of capacitors.

While ultracapacitors store a large amount of charge, they are still well below the energy density of storage batteries. There are not many situations in which an ultracapacitor solution can replace a battery outright; however, since ultracapacitors have a much lower internal resistance and much faster charge rate than batteries, they can make a battery-powered system run far more efficiently.

Who does the ultracap benefit?
Here’s a common example of how ultracaps boost battery performance and benefit applications. If you pair an ultracapacitor with the starter battery for an internal combustion engine (ICE), for instance, you solve one of the most persistent problems faced by the green automotive industry.

Starter batteries are typically sized for starting ICEs in 0°F conditions, but drivers in much of the U.S. and the world must crank their cars on far colder mornings for at least part of the year. An ultracapacitor can work down to -40°F with little increase in its internal resistance, making the combination of battery and ultracapacitor a robust power source even at low temperatures.

Let’s Review
In general, the use of an ultracapacitor in combination with a battery is an excellent way to increase the overall power density of the power source and decrease the strain on the battery. Where energy storage with high-peak power is required, it is likely an ultracapacitor device will be useful.

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  • Ioxus uSTART® Battery Replacement for Heavy Equipment Increases Starting Reliability

    ONEONTA, N.Y., April 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Ioxus, Inc., a leading developer and manufacturer of ultracapacitors and energy storage products, announced today that the 24V uSTART® battery support system is now being offered as the heavy equipment industry's only drop-in replacement product that needs no special wiring. Using two group 31 batteries in series, with one 24V uSTART in parallel, users can replace their 4D battery in heavy equipment.

    The ultracapacitor-based product is designed with smart power electronics to assist in starting engines up to 50L for large off-road equipment.  Using the available Smartphone Bluetooth app, once the uSTART is connected to the batteries, users can look at the voltage of the batteries, the charge level of uSTART, initiate a jump start without connecting any wires, or put the unit into maintenance mode for safe removal or repairs.

    The goal of the uSTART system is to provide the vehicle with a start, no matter the condition of the existing batteries or external temperature. If the batteries run too low duread more...

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