A new hybrid capacitor reportedly offers twice the energy
density of conventional ultracapacitors, making it a candidate for products
ranging from flashlights and hand tools to LED systems and start/stop motors
combining the best features of ultracapacitors with lithium-ion batteries, the
new hybrid ultracapacitor could enable end products to charge up more quickly,
go longer between charges and go for tens of thousands of cycles between
replacement. "This offers a significant increase in energy density, and in the
world of ultracapacitors, energy density is key," says Mark McGough, chief
executive of Ioxus Inc., maker of the new
believed to be one of two companies worldwide that is now making a hybrid
lithium-ion ultracapacitor. The key to doing so is the company's ability to
find an electrolyte that is compatible with the product's two electrodes, one
of which is made from a lithium-ion material. "Having an electrolyte that can
provide optimum performance and not destroy either of the electrodes - that's
the secret sauce," McGough says.
He says the
hybrid product offers an energy density of about 4 Wh/kg, whereas conventional
ultracaps are closer to 2 Wh/kg.
The technology could be
particularly useful in light-emitting diode (LED) applications because LEDs use
far less electrical current than conventional incandescent bulbs.
getting 10 minutes of light in your flashlight that's powered by a conventional
ultracapacitor and a light bulb, you can combine this with an LED and get three
hours of light," McGough says. "And not only do you get longer duration of illumination,
but you get quick charge capability, too." He adds that a pair of the hybrid
capacitors could power a flashlight for three hours on a 90-second charge.
that a hybrid ultracapacitor the size of a lunch bucket could power a
start/stop system in an automobile. He believes that the technology could play
a big role there as automakers adopt start/stop technology in the next few
years. He also foresees the technology serving in wind turbines, off-grid
lighting and other automotive applications, including power windows and door