Ultracapacitors Nearing Volume Production

The outstanding feature of the newly-developed capacitor is that it can be used to replace existing Li-ion rechargeable batteries.

Published: 12-Nov-2007

Higher-energy density capacitors seem likely to find application in the automobile- and energy-related markets, providing they can prove themselves first in consumer products.

Capacitors are considered to have a low energy density, but if the energy density can be boosted to about 20Wh/kg, they could well be able to compete with Li-ion rechargeable batteries and similar power sources in large-capacity storage applications where high output power is required, such as vehicles (Fig 1).

The market for large-capacity storage devices is growing rapidly. According to Fuji-keizai Co, Ltd of Japan, the market for large-capacity storage devices is expected to increase from about Yen310 billion in 2004 to about Yen670 billion in 2010, representing a growth of double or more. Within that market (Fig 2), added the firm, "The market for hybrid vehicles like Toyota's Prius will grow significantly." Toyota Motor Corp of Japan, which is aggressively promoting its hybrid vehicles, expects to sell more than 300,000 of them in fiscal 2005. The firm has already stated that it will "establish a production stance capable of handling a million units a year, within a few years," and if other manufacturers follow suit there is little doubt that the storage device market for hybrid vehicles will grow.

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