Makers are emphasizing material quality and production techniques to develop variants suitable for industrial use.
China manufacturers of supercapacitors are underscoring models with better performance yet smaller dimensions, spurred by increasing utilization in industrial, automotive, military, aerospace and alternative energy applications. To meet stringent specifications, makers such as Jinzhou Kaimei Power Co. Ltd are employing high-grade materials and mature technologies. The first and Haerbin Jurong Newpower adopt carbon electrode inputs, including activated carbon powder, and fiber to improve energy density and specific power.
Suppliers are likewise giving emphasis on structure, electrolyte system and anode formula. To increase capacity and power density, Supreme Power is conducting organic electrolyte technique.
Because they have fast charging time, long life cycle and low equivalent series resistance, supercapacitors, also known as electric double-layer capacitors, are widely used in portable and industrial equipment and handheld devices. Also driving the category's development is the automotive sector. Traction and start EDLCs are increasingly being adopted in hybrid cars and electric bicycles. The former boasts 10Wh/kg specific energy and 600W/kg specific power, while the other has 3Wh/kg and 1,500W/kg.
The segment's popularity was bolstered further with the unveiling of buses powered by supercapacitors at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
Ultracapacitors, another term for the product, boast up to 1 million to 50 million times deep cycle frequency and more than 90 percent current energy cycle efficiency. Some are even capable of replacing batteries. Compared with Li-ion variants, EDLCs have 10 times greater power density. They can likewise withstand higher temperatures at -40 to 70 C. Batteries normally operate between -20 and 60 C.
With a life span exceeding 50 million cycles, supercapacitors last 1,000 times longer than NiMH and NiCd kinds.
Since EDLCs can be welded, connection problems typically encountered in batteries are avoided. The former is likewise resilient to overcharging.
China's manufacture pool consists of more than 50 makers, but only fewer than 20 are capable of mass production. Major player Jinzhou Kaimei offers winding and button types, while Supreme Power focuses on the first. Other suppliers carry liquid double-layer kinds in their catalogs.
Banking on a mature technology and years of experience, companies ensure that their selections comply with the varying requirements of overseas clients, particularly those from the US, Canada and Germany.
China's supercapacitor industry is expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2013. Exports are forecast to increase significantly, owed to robust electronics and automotive markets. Button versions are projected to grow more than 30 percent in the next few years, while winding and large variants over 50 percent.
China enterprises' broadening lineups are led by button and cylindrical variants.
Heter Electronics Group Co. Ltd's model 5.5V/2.7V-B button EDLC packs 0.1 to 1.5F capacity, and the 2.7/2.5V-C cylindrical version has 1 to 300F. The common applications include electronic devices and UPS systems.
Jinzhou Kaimei offers the Sed series, which includes C, H and V configurations and has -25 to 70 C operating temperature. Each unit can preserve data in memory chips and work as a back-up power supply for VCRs, radios, TVs, telephones and water and gas meters.
EDLCs' quality is influenced by the anode and cathode materials. The latter affects the specific capacity and power, and cycling performance. Many companies have raised the first to more than 500F/g to enhance reliability.
To boost capacity, supercapacitors use porous carbon for the dielectric area. Compared with flat or textured film and plates, the latter enables the area to expand further, reaching 2,000sqm/g. The size of ions in the electrolyte, meanwhile, controls the charge separation.
The other requirement includes electrodes, electrolyte, end plates and separators. Many manufacturers such as Heter and Jinzhou Kaimei source components from overseas partners. Some, including Shanghai Aowei, rely on local companies. Supreme Power has begun R&D on electrode inputs and liquid electrolyte, while Haiao Wei is forging partnerships with universities and institutions for procurement of the inputs.
Several makers said domestic production has been affected by insufficient raw material supply as a result of the Japan earthquake. Jinzhou Kaimei, for instance, noted a shortfall in 58F EDLCs. Inventories of 300 and 400F kinds, meanwhile, are at normal levels as these usually employ local components.
Because of the input shortage, some companies forecast a jump in prices. Although rates are generally stable at the moment, quotes of several models have already increased by 1 percent.
Jinzhou Kaimei said prices of supercapacitors adopting imported inputs will rise by 20 percent before stabilizing next year. Supreme Power, meanwhile, expects values for button and convoluted types to go down on the back of a maturing technology. Stiff competition will likewise lead to lower rates.
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