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A capacitor is similiar to a battery in that it is a medium for storing electrical energy. However, a capacitor is a much simpler device than a battery, it cannot produce new electrons -- it only stores them. Capacitors that are scaled up to power levels required for deliving power to vehicles and the utility grid are known as ultracapacitors.



  • Storage > Capacitors / Batteries / Tesla Motors >
    Tesla CEO: Super-capacitors Trump Electric Car Batteries - Unlike batteries, supercapacitors do not lose the ability to store charge with age. Supercapacitors also have a much higher power density than batteries, and they can provide power far more quickly than existing battery technology. And they can supply up to 95% of the energy used to charge it on discharging. (AllCarsElectric; March 24, 2011)


  • Electric Ultracapacitor Buses Becoming More Feasible - China and Sinautec have been testing a fleet of electric buses equipped with ultracapacitors for quick recharging and zero emissions… and so far it works. Though having a quick charge time (~ 5 min.), these ultracapacitors need to be recharged (every 3.5 miles with air conditioning; 5.5 miles without a/c), requiring numerous charging stations; and the bus only goes 30 mph. (Gas 2.0; Oct. 21, 2009)


  • Storage > Capacitors >
    New Lithium-Ion Ultracapacitor Can Charge Tools In Under 60 Seconds - New York-based company Ioxus has developed a new type of lithium ion ultracapacitor that can potentially deliver large amounts of energy in a small amount of time. This makes them ideal for items that require large amounts of power for acceleration, energy capture, or ‘high power application’ – such as power tools. (Inhabitat; January 13, 2011)
  • Will EEStor ceramic battery replace gas engines by 2008? - Texas company is working on an "energy storage" device made from ceramics. It's not technically a battery because it doesn't use chemicals. It can allegedly charge within 5 minutes with enough energy to move a car 500 miles on about $9 worth of electricity -- about 45 cents a gallon.
  • batScap - Supercapacitors meet applications requiring high power values for short periods (ten seconds) and defined by a very high number of charge / discharge cycles (millions). This technology could replace batteries and fly-wheels and open new prospects for electric and hybrid vehicles.
  • Canadian Firm Develops Fast-Charge Ultra-Cap 'Battery' - EPOD International is developing a revolutionary new hybrid battery that can be charged in less than one minute and fully cycled over 100,000 times. It combines the high energy density of batteries with the high power density of capacitors, is not made from rare or expensive elements and is environmentally benign. (EV World; May 10, 2007)

Research and Development

  • Storage > Capacitors >
    International research team develops ultrahigh-power energy storage devices - A team of researchers from the U.S. and France report the development of a mirco-supercapacitor with remarkable properties. The paper will be published in the premier scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology online. These micro-supercapacitors have the potential to power nomad electronics, wireless sensor networks, biomedical implants, active RFID tags... (PhysOrg; August 17, 2010)
  • Storage > Capacitors >
    Big Energy Storage in Thin Films - Researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia have demonstrated that it's possible to use techniques borrowed from the chip-making industry to make thin-film carbon ultracapacitors that store three times as much energy by volume as conventional ultracapacitor materials; and they could operate without ever being replaced. (MIT Technology Review; April 22, 2010)
  • Ultracaps Could Boost Hybrid Efficiency - Energy storage devices called ultracapacitors could lower the cost of the battery packs in plug-in hybrid vehicles by hundreds or even thousands of dollars by cutting the size of the packs in half, made more feasible by advances being made in the industry. (MIT Technology Review; August 20, 2009)
  • Nanotechnology / Storage > Capacitors >
    Print-on-Demand Power - Flexible carbon-nanotube supercapacitors could give more power to cell phones and other electronics. Researchers have made the first printable supercapacitor. This high-performance energy-storage device performs better than conventional supercapacitors currently on the market. (MIT Technology Review; April 27, 2009)
  • Ultracapacitors Soon to Replace Batteries? - The synergy between batteries and capacitors — two of the sturdiest and oldest components of electrical engineering — has been growing to the point where ultracapacitors may soon be almost as indispensable to portable electricity as batteries are now. (IEEE Spectrum; Nov. 2007) (See also Slashdot)
  • Capacitor research could increase storage by 7x - Researchers have developed a new type of capacitor which allows up to seven times the electrical storage potential as standard capacitors available today. This is good news for the electric and hybrid car industry, as capacitors are a possible alternative to batteries. (AutoblogGreen; Jul. 4, 2007)
  • New DESD Capacitor Technology - Researchers are developing Digitated Energy Storage Devices that quickly store and discharge large amounts of power using capacitors built on nano-scale structures, with a capacitance-to-volume ratio that's 10,000 times larger. DESDs would make hybrid vehicles more efficient, and also more environmentally friendly because they don't wear out like batteries. (UANews; Mar. 9, 2007)
  • Nanotube Super Capacitor Battery - MIT researchers are developing a battery based on capacitors that utilize nanotubes for high surface area, enabling near instantaneous charging and no degradation. Estimating ~5 years to commercialization.


  • Carbon Nanotube Enhanced Ultracapacitors - Our analysis shows that the utilization of a matrix of vertically aligned Carbon Nanotubes as electrode structure, can lead to an ultracapacitor characterized by a power density greater than 100kW/kg (three orders of magnitude higher than batteries), a lifetime longer than 300,000 cycles, and an energy density higher than 60Wh/kg.


  • Hybrid Vehicles > TNO Hybrid Carlab - This Beetle finished 2nd in the 2005 Rallye Monte Carlo for Hybrid Vehicles using < 4 litres/100km (59 mpg US). A 150kW AC Propulsion electrical system powers the front wheels supplied by a generator set based on a VW 1.2 TDI 3-cylinder diesel engine and UQM generator. Peak power is supplied by a supercapacitor pack consisting of 3500F Nesscap cells.
  • Electromagnetic > Variable Torque Motors - Axial field weakening yields higher efficiency over the rpm range, creating a "built-in" transmission that mechanically enables an operating range up to 10x the motor base speed for electric vehicles. VTM offers hybrid retrofit packages installed on the drive shaft of rear wheel drive vehicles using Maxwell BoostCap™ ultracapacitors for energy storage.

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