What are supercapacitors and where are they used?

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A supercapacitor is also known as a two-layer ultracapacitor or electrolytic capacitor. This is a type of capacitor that can store a large amount of energy, usually 10 to 100 times more energy compared to electrolytic capacitors.

Disassembling a supercapacitor

How does a supercapacitor work?

Supercapacitors use two different mechanisms to store electricity, electrostatic capacity based on electric double layer and pseudocapacity electrochemical. This means that supercapacitors combines the properties of capacitors and electric batteries in one device.

Supercapacitors consist of two electrodes, an electrolyte, a separating membrane, and their performance differs depending on the characteristics of the materials used. They do not work on the basis of chemical reactions, as in the case of conventional batteries, but on the basis of generation of electrostatic fields. These capacitors are polarized, so they must be connected correctly, as must the electrolytic capacitors.

Disadvantages of using supercapacitors

The main impediments to using supercapacitors are high cost and low energy density what characterizes these devices. Compared to regular Li-ion batteries, current supercapacitors cannot store a large amount of electricity and cannot maintain it for too long.

For this reason, supercapacitors, in their current form, cannot provide a long-term electricity charge for electric vehicles.

Where are supercapacitors used?

Supercapacitors are used in applications that require many fast loading / unloading cycles, rather than compact long-term energy storage - in cars, buses, trains, cranes and elevators, where they are used for regenerative braking, short-term energy storage or burst energy delivery. Smaller units are used as a random access memory (SRAM) power reserve.

The internal structure of the supercapacitor

The electrolyte forms a conductive ionic bond between the two electrodes, which distinguishes them from conventional electrolytic capacitors in which there is always a dielectric layer and the so-called electrolyte, for example, MnO2 or conductive polymer, is actually part of the second electrode. (cathode, or more correctly the positive electrode). Supercapacitors are polarized by design with asymmetric electrodes or, for symmetrical electrodes, by a potential applied during manufacturing.

Top 12 supercapacitor manufacturers

  1. Cellergy (USA)
  2. Ioxus (USA)
  3. Maxwell Technologies (USA)
  4. Murata Manufacturing (Japan)
  5. Nanoramic Laboratories (USA)
  6. Nec Tokin (Japan)
  7. Nippon Chemi-Con (Japan)
  8. Panasonic (Japan)
  9. Paper Battery Company (USA)
  10. Skeleton Technologies (Estonia)
  11. Yunasko (UK)
  12. ZapGo (UK)




  1. The name supercaps is also used for quite small capacitors (but, with a relatively high capacitance for their size) which are used to provide back up power to memory, real time clocks, etc. when the main power is switched off. They are also referred to as EDL capacitors, Electric Double Layer capacitors. Charging-discharging occurs in the ion absorption layer which is formed on the surfaces of the positive and negative electrodes. Manufacturers of this type of capacitor use two types of electrolyte. One is water-soluble and the other is non-water-soluble.
    The latter can withstand higher voltage per cell. This type of capacitor thus uses
    special techniques in order to achieve such high capacitance values ​​in a compact
    package. Just like an electrolytic capacitor it is polarized.

  2. We need to harness the energy of nature .. just imagine if we could use it's full potential energy today? We can cure our problems if we move the tree of greed aside seeing the vastness of electricity in it's raw form as in the case of lighting. Earth's natural production of electricity.

    1. Yes, car manufacturers would then produce cars that could accelerate to 400km / h in 2 seconds and speed limits being reduced! Funny old world, huh!

      1. When Ford produced his first vehicle, I recall reading somewhere it was battery powered? It didn't have a catalytic converter had a fuel economy of nearly 100 miles per gallon. That was before Paul Getty got involved with his monopoly of crude oil?

        1. Ford's first car battery powered, had an economy of 100mpg? Sorry I don't understand! Part of its economy was due to the fact it didn't weight 2 tons and travel at 100mph, if we drove practical and sensible vehicles their carbon footprint and energy consumption would be much reduced, be it gas, petrol, diesel, electric.

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