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Electric Vehicles Research
Posted on October 18, 2012 by  & 

Ultracapacitors go mainstream

Ultracapacitors, otherwise known as supercapacitors, have recently become an essential part of the toolkit of designers of aircraft, trains, road vehicles, renewable energy, office equipment and the host of small electronic devices where it all began. Applications are now widening at a rapid pace, not least with the larger versions used in energy harvesting, mass transit and, starting this year, production cars, where previously only small ones had uses. This is creating a multi-billion dollar market by continuing the 30% growth rate achieved, for the first time, last year. It is little wonder that the number of suppliers is doubling every five years or so. Developers are also making rapid progress in tackling the impediments to even faster market growth such as cost and energy density.
It is time to move on from supercapacitor events loaded with commercials and abstruse science to address the roadmap of what advances will open up what new markets, when, and to establishing what the users need next, in the light of their experience so far. IDTechEx is therefore staging the event "Supercapacitors USA" in Washington DC November 7-8 alongside its events on the closely allied topics of Energy Harvesting and Wireless Sensor Networks. Heavy user Bombardier, making boats to trains, trams and aircraft, will give a keynote and there are other presentations specifically on supercapacitors in Aircraft, Mass Transit (including user Sinautec), in Buildings, Healthcare and Mobile Phones etc. Speakers fly in from Russia, the UK, Israel, Japan and elsewhere making it a comprehensively international event with the full range of applications. This is part of the reason why delegates include Boeing, the US Department of Transport, top design and environmental group CSA, and the supercapacitor developer Yo-Engineering from Russia.
Despite outdated teaching that supercapacitors are power products, separate from batteries as energy dense products, we have a car maker reveal why supercapacitors have recently replaced batteries across its fuel cells. Others cover use in hybrid and pure electric buses now either replacing or partially replacing batteries - these are production realities not dreams. Supercapacitor reliability and fit-and-forget means they are the first choice for many emergency facilities from wind turbines to aircraft emergency slides, for bridging, pulse and sometimes main power in buses to welding machines and toys. They reduce cost of ownership as well.
The second day of Supercapacitors USA will look deeply at progress in increasing energy density in particular, because that is what the market demands. That means achievement of the energy density of lead-acid and NiCd batteries on the way to more. Yes, supercapacitors are improving faster than batteries, particularly when we include supercabatteries, now being addressed by some of the world's largest companies. Graphene, carbon nanotubes, the new ionic electrolytes -they are all here but with the focus on commercial success. Uniquely, this event is addressing the needs of trading companies using or making these devices and their materials, of investors and others that wish to see the big picture looking forwards.
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