January 11, 2012 - via The Environmental Blog

How do you differentiate a capacitor from a battery? While both of them seem the same in the sense that they store and deliver electric charges, they are largely different due to their composition. All batteries use a cocktail of different metals and chemicals to obtain an electric charge. A capacitor on the other hands gets its charge directly from the electrons that are stored within them.

A supercapacitor is, as you might have guessed, an upgraded version of a normal capacitor. Capacitors are never used in the same way as batteries because they cannot really last as long as batteries do. A supercapacitor however, can last much longer due to its high energy density. It holds four very important capabilities and attributes that could force the development of new electric energy technologies that would no longer be too dependent on batteries alone.

Supercapacitors Charge Almost Instantaneously
Capacitors have quicker charging rates than batteries because they simply store up electrons on thin metal plates. This attribute is well inherited by the supercapacitor. In fact, this attribute is even amplified in overall efficiency with its high energy density. If it would take a Lithium ion battery one hour to be recharged using a specific amount of energy, the supercapacitor would only take about 10 seconds to be fully recharged with the same amount.

Has an Almost Indefinite Lifetime
Batteries eventually wear out because chemical degradations lower its efficiency ever so slightly at every charge cycle. A supercapacitor is not hindered by this limitation. Since all it does is store and deliver electrons, it can survive a whole lot more charge cycles than ordinary batteries (millions of charge cycles compared to 500-1000 battery charge cycles). The only thing that limits it from indefinitely functioning is the life span of its components.

Pumped Up Energy Densities
As we have mentioned earlier, a supercapacitor owes most its positive attributes to its energy density. A single gram in a typical supercapacitor holds about 10 watts, whereas more efficient batteries tend to only have about 2 or 3 watts per gram. In terms of raw power delivery, almost no drop of energy is wasted, as it has a very low internal resistance, enabling it to pump out 95% of its charge purely for energy.

Much Cleaner and Safer Than Batteries
Like what I have talked about before, all rechargeable batteries have harmful and toxic elements in them that render them potentially unsafe for the environment. Supercapacitors are safer and cleaner than batteries because they are not made using corrosive or toxic chemicals or metals. All it needs is an overlapping configuration of conductors and insulators to store or deliver raw electrons for electrical energy.

Despite the vast superiority of supercapacitors over conventional batteries in many aspects and categories, it still remains a few steps behind mainstream acceptance due a number of limitations. But as it eventually overcomes its problems in specific energy, cell voltage and self-discharge rate, we’ll eventually see batteries slowly move a bit sideward to pave way for these clean and efficient electric energy sources.

External link: http://www.theenvironmentalblog.org/2012/01/reasons-supercapacitors-mainstream/

Author:Christian Crisostomo