A supercapacitor is a technological innovation that answers the rising demands of portable, low-cost, environmentally friendly energy storage products. Most commonly used for backup or peak power applications, they are also known as ultracapacitors. Unlike batteries, they can charge quickly, have high power density and long life, Murata Supercapacitors being an example of one.
A supercapacitor combines the advantages of capacitors and rechargeable batteries. Instead of an electrochemical reaction, these capacitors store energy in a static form.
Double-layer capacitors, electrochemical pseudocapacitors, and hybrid capacitors are three types of supercapacitors categorized according to charge storage methods. These thin, flat, highly portable supercapacitors can improve battery performance and have the capability of being the future of optimal energy storage.
A supercapacitor typically stores 10 to 100 times more energy as compared to electrolytic capacitors. According to a report on high-density supercapacitors, improved energy density can be attributed to the increased contact to the electrode area. Higher electrical conductivity leads to higher capacitance values.
The charge time of a supercapacitor ranges from milliseconds to seconds. Compared to batteries that take anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes to charge, a supercapacitor can be charged in about 1 to 10 seconds. Another advantage of a product like Murata Supercapacitors is that they draw the charge they need and are not subject to overcharging. Once the capacitor reaches its charge limit, the current may stop flowing.
As there is no chemical reaction involved with supercapacitors, they can be charged and discharged a virtually unlimited number of times. As the charge-discharge cycle of a supercapacitor is quick, it leads to less wear and tear. It operates well under high and low temperatures. A supercapacitor can work efficiently for 10 to 15 years against the 5 to 10 years of a Li-ion battery.
When used in conjunction with a Li-ion or lithium battery, a supercapacitor can reduce the battery size and weight. Supercapacitors are known for their small size, with ultra-thin options also available in the market. When used together, these capacitors can increase the battery run time and extend the battery’s life. They are cost-efficient compared to batteries.
Supercapacitors are ideally used when a bout of short-term power is needed. They are currently used in various applications, from powering electronics like mobile phones, computers, and laptops, to street lights to powering buses and trains.
A prime example of supercapacitor application is the aerial lifts in Austria. They use electricity for the opening and closing of doors and communication purposes. As these lifts run continuously, the only time available for recharging batteries is when passengers load and unload, offering a window of a few seconds. With the help of supercapacitors, this recharging window is met with ease.
Supercapacitors can provide backup power, extend battery life, and improve load balancing while meeting environmental standards. There are various options in the marketplace today, catering to different voltage, capacitance, and size requirements. For example, Murata Supercapacitors offers a range of low-cost products that are ideal for sleek devices.