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Can Supercapacitors replace batteries?

JeremyatRS
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September 3, 2014 20:50

If you have the room, Supercapacitors would make an excellent battery replacement in certain circumstances. Different rechargeable batteries have different characteristics that make them better in some areas and not others. Lets list a few plus and minus's and include supercapacitors.
LiOn: needs very controlled charging for safety, self discharge > 18 months, High energy per volume and weight, medium available maximum current drain. No memory effect, Roughly 500 charge cycles
NiMh: Charging not critical, Medium energy to volume/weight , Very high max current drain. Self discharge 6months to a year. Less memory effect, Roughly 500 charge cycles.
NiCd: charging not critical, medium to low energy to volume/weight, Very high max current drain, Self discharge 6 months to a year. Memory effects. Roughly 500 charge cycles.
Supercapacitor: Charging not critical, low energy to volume/weight. Self discharge 6 months. max current drain depends on design. Number of charge cycles, >50,000.

Supercapacitors currently seem like a perfect fit for solar charged devices since they don't waste much energy when charging, and can be recharged many many more times than chemistry based rechargeable batteries. They are merely 10 or more times larger for an equivalent battery watt hours stored. An air tight unit is feasible since they won't vent gases unless damaged, unlike NiMh and NiCd which seem designed to vent caustic gases right against the battery holder.
Supercaps would be great in devices that never need to be opened. Currently, their size per watt hour means they won't be used in phones or tablets currently. There will need to be a radical improvement to the manufacturing process before that becomes possible.
But if your device has the room, and you need it so you never need to open the case ever, then I'd go cap.

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