What is a Supercapacitor? How Does It Work?

Are supercapacitors better than batteries? - Electric & Hybrid Vehicle  Technology International

Continue reading if you want to learn more about the supercapacitor.

A supercapacitor is a high-power density energy storage device that can be used in smaller UPS systems (up to 30 kVA) instead of the usual batteries to protect against momentary mains power supply failures.

This article will cover every aspect of the supercapacitor. Please keep reading.

What is a Supercapacitor?

A supercapacitor is a type of capacitor that can store a large amount of energy, typically 10 to 100 times more energy per unit mass or volume compared to electrolytic capacitors. It is preferred to batteries owing to its faster and simpler charging, and faster delivery of charge.

The larger area of its plates and the closer spacing between them distinguish a supercapacitor from a capacitor. The plates are metallic, submerged in electrolytes, and separated from one another by a very thin insulator.

When the plates are charged, opposing charges form on both sides of the separator, resulting in the formation of an electric double layer inside the supercapacitor. A supercapacitor with a higher capacitance is the result of this.

In other words, the combination of the plates and the larger effective surface area enables a supercapacitor to have a higher energy density and greater capacitance.

A supercapacitor, as opposed to a battery, has an unlimited life cycle and experiences minimal wear and tear over time. Thus, it can be charged and discharged an unlimited number of times.

How Does a Supercapacitor Work?

What is Supercapacitor (Ultracapacitor) - Characteristics, Working & Types

The capacitors make use of static electricity or electrostatics to store energy. Both positively and negatively charged ions are present in the electrolyte solution that fills the space between the supercapacitor’s two plates.

When a voltage is applied across the plates of the supercapacitor, one of the plates tends to develop a positive charge, while the other plate gets negatively charged. This causes the electrolyte solution’s negative ions to gravitate toward the positively charged plate and the positively charged ions to gravitate toward the negatively charged metal plate.

On the inner side of both plates, a thin ion layer is formed. This leads to the formation of an electrostatic double layer, which is comparable to a series connection of two capacitors.

Each of the two capacitors that are the result has a high capacitance because the space between the charge layers is very thin. Evaluating (C1 x C2)/(C1 + C2) will allow you to determine the supercapacitor’s overall capacitance.

Benefits of the Supercapacitor

Since the charging and discharging process of the supercapacitor will not produce a chemical reaction, it will shape the characteristics and increase the advantages of the supercapacitor:

Small in Size and Large Capacity

The charged adsorbed electrolyte increases as a result of the properties of the structured porous electrode. As a result, the capacity may be very large.

Strong Charge and Discharge Ability

The ions are drawn to the electrical surface of the double-layer structure and begin to charge when voltage is applied to the electrodes at both ends. The charging speed is very quick, and it can charge a battery to more than 95% of its rated capacity in just a few seconds to a few minutes.

The traditional battery charging process goes through chemical reactions. It will produce additional chemical reaction products if it is charged too quickly, which will shorten battery life.

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High energy conversion efficiency, strong high current discharge capability, and minimal process loss. The electrons simply move from one side of the capacitor to the other during the discharge process. Its lifespan will not be impacted by the high current discharge because there is no chemical reaction.

Long Lifespan

A very long lifespan and the ability to charge and discharge many times over hundreds of thousands of times (10E6 or higher).

Extreme Low-temperature Resistance

The lowest operating temperature for supercapacitors is -40C, with a typical working temperature range of -40C to +70C.

When a failure occurs, the circuit is now open. When there is an increase in the amount of volts flowing through the device, the supercapacitor does not degrade. Perfectly dependable and overvoltage-safe.

The Energy and Differences Between Supercapacitor and Battery

The energy density of supercapacitors can reach 10KWh/KG. Each KG is equal to 1 liter of gasoline by adhering to this energy density standard and the mechanical conversion efficiency. By comparing the energy density of 0.05~0.18KWh/Kg for chemical batteries, supercapacitors have far superior advantages.

The flow of electrons serves as the battery’s underlying principle. Lithium batteries provide electrons from the hydrogen of the negative electrode, and the positive electrode obtains electrons from materials such as lithium cobalt oxide or lithium iron phosphate, thereby forming a current.

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A large number of materials such as hydrogen storage materials, electrolytes, and the material of the positive electrode are to make the hydrogen electrons move.

As a result, the majority of the traditional battery’s weight has already completed the auxiliary work. Within the supercapacitor, hydrogen electrons perform best. The two materials make up the supercapacitor’s basic construction.

By giving it a voltage, the electrons will run aside. The electrons on the component of the material with more electrons will discharge onto the one with fewer electrons, causing a current to flow.

Therefore, in theory, the supercapacitor’s entire mass can participate in the flow of electrons, resulting in a much higher energy density than chemical batteries.

  1. Ultra-low series equivalent resistance (LOW ESR), and power density are more than tens of times than lithium-ion batteries. The supercapacitor is appropriate for large current discharge.
  2. Over 500,000 times can be spent charging and discharging a supercapacitor. Compared to a lithium-ion battery, it is 500 times more powerful. 1000 more times than NiMH and Ni-Cd batteries. The supercapacitor has a 68-year operating life and can be charged and discharged 20 times per day.
  3. Simple charging circuit requirements, quick charging and discharging times, and no memory effect.

Supercapacitors typically operate between -40°C and +70°C in terms of temperature. It ranges from -20C to 60C for general batteries. The output energy deviates in accordance with the temperature change from 0C to -20C, and the highest attenuation energy can reach more than 20%.

In this way, the supercapacitor possesses both the qualities of a battery and capacitance. It is very vivid to say that it is a “charge and discharge integrated” battery.

Read More: Are Supercapacitors Better Than Batteries?

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