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Perspectives on Energy Storage: The Rise of Ultracapacitors Over Conventional Methods

Perspectives on Energy Storage: The Rise of Ultracapacitors Over Conventional Methods

| Neil Ospina, Sr. Customer Quality Engineer Untitled Document

The energy landscape is changing.

Applications in transportation, the grid, and heavy industrial equipment industries—to name just a few—are becoming more energy-demanding, and more stringent environmental regulations are being implemented in countries worldwide. There is a global effort underway to achieve energy-efficiency and a smaller carbon footprint on our planet.

Batteries have been the traditional energy storage technology for decades, but the changes we’re experiencing require new approaches. Ultracapacitors, also known as supercapacitors, are employed in a number of applications across the industries mentioned; we’re amidst the rise of ultracapacitor energy storage over conventional methods.

One example of a shift from conventional energy storage to ultracapacitor cell technology is emergency wind pitch control. Traditionally, lead-acid batteries have been used for wind pitch control, the system that rotates the wind turbine’s blades to a safe position during high winds or a power loss. This helps protect the turbine from damage by excessive wind speeds. Wind farm operators are now choosing ultracapacitors for this application because they provide long life and reliable performance in the remote and demanding turbine environment.

RELATED CONTENT: Smoothing the Sun: Ultracapacitors on UC San Diego’s Microgrid

Another example of an application that requires high-performance and reliability is the start-stop system in the latest cars. Start-stop is a fuel-saving function that helps auto manufacturers meet environmental regulations to reduce CO2 emissions. When your car comes to a stoplight, the engine completely shuts down. The function preserves gas and it preserves the car’s battery life. Maxwell’s ultracapacitors have proved to be an excellent fit for this application—installed in 2.5 million cars with start-stop today—due to their ability to quickly charge/recharge and provide burst power for starting the engine.

Ultracapacitor energy storage is a highly flexible technology that has an impressive range of uses. They are integrated into trains, wind turbines, forklifts and cranes, and in the grid. Many of the businesses that run these types of applications are searching for an alternative type of energy storage and will need to implement new methods to meet higher energy demands and environmental compliance imperatives.

Batteries have been the traditional energy storage technology for decades, but ultracapacitors have laid impressive groundwork in a variety of applications and industries since the early 90s and continue to prove their long-term efficacy in the field.

READ NEXTFrom Start-Stop to Autonomous Driving: Ultracapacitors Enabling Next-Generation Automotive Features (VIDEO)

NeilNeil Ospina
Sr. Customer Quality Engineer
About this author

Neil Ospina, customer quality engineer, joined Maxwell Technologies in 2008. Ospina’s previous roles include customer quality engineer at Engineering Product Division of Goodyear and quality manager at Lithotech Division of Norampac where he was responsible for ISO implementation and supporting suppliers and customers in quality matters.  Ospina achieved CQE (Certified Quality Engineer) and CQM (Certified Quality Manager) certifications from American Society for Quality and Six Sigma Black Belt certification. He has a B.S. in industrial engineering.


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