IDTechEx: Supercapacitors To Steal Lithium-Ion Battery Market Share

JUL 3 2014 BY MARK KANE 14

Big Daddy Don Garlit's tests Swamp Rat 37 and breaks 180 mph!

We would like to see 200 Wh/kg supercapacitor in this dragster

Market research company IDTechEx recently presented a brave thesis that “Supercapacitors can destroy the lithium-ion battery market“. Such statement was issued by way of its “Electrochemical Double Layer Capacitors: Supercapacitors 2014-2024” report, in which IDTechEx finds that supercapacitors are improving faster than lithium-ion batteries .

IDTechEx stated that by 2024, the global market value for supercapacitors will be $6.5 billion and market share will be increasing, eating batteries alive.

To support this thesis, IDTechEx gives examples:

“Nanotune Technologies’ CEO Kuang Tsei Huang demonstrated supercapacitors with 35 Wh/kg, saying that 500 Wh/kg may be achievable, 2-4 times the energy density of the best Li-ion batteries. Yunasko and many others have demonstrated 35 Wh/kg, with the intermediate supercabatteries, matching lead-acid and NiCd batteries. Maxwell Technologies expects tripling current energy density with pure supercapacitors. Graphene supercapacitor developers target 200 Wh/kg.”

Seems bold, but supercapacitors have rather long road ahead, because just weeks ago we presented info on the new 7.7 Wh/k supercapacitor from Maxwell Technologies. This is nowhere close to 35 Wh/kg (lead-acid batteries level). However, we must agree that there is high potential and no one would be offended if a 35 Wh/kg (or 200 Wh/kg) supercapacitor entered the market.

Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman of IDTechEx, explains:

“Supercapacitors need not match lithium-ion battery External Link energy density to replace much of that battery market. They have replaced maybe one percent of that market already with only one hundredth of the energy density because they last longer than the bus for example that they are in. They are safer and have ten times the power density. Even across batteries they mean less battery is needed.

“They have replaced Li-ion batteries in most Chinese buses, despite greater up-front price. Supercapacitor sales are under 3% of lithium-ion battery sales today, partly replacing them and partly doing things batteries can never do.”

“Supercapacitor sales will be over 10% of Li-ion sales in ten years as they grab more Li-ion business despite such batteries improving by a factor of two in energy density. For that, production supercapacitors or supercabatteries (notably lithium-ion capacitors) must reach around 40 Wh/kg with all other parameters acceptable, possibly even conceding some power density and life but being greener. If that happens, few will dispute that in the next decade at around 100 Wh/kg with acceptable other parameters, supercapacitors or supercabatteries could grab 50% of the lithium-ion market reaching tens of billions of dollars in yearly sales.”

Here is an interesting fragment on supercapacitor applications:

“Supercapacitors are replacing batteries where such properties as excellent low temperature performance, calendar and cycle life, fast charge-discharge and reliability are more dominant issues than size and weight. Examples of this include power backup opening bus doors in an emergency, working hybrid car brakes when power goes down and keeping electronic circuits running. Conventional trucks are having one to three of their lead acid batteries replaced with drop-in supercapacitor alternatives that guarantee starting in very cold weather, when lead acid batteries are very poor performers. The difference is dramatic- about 5% energy loss occurs at minus 25 degrees centigrade, compared to a battery’s energy loss of more than 50%. Some pure electric buses even run on supercapacitors alone recharging through the road every five kilometres or so. Use of supercapacitors to protect batteries against fast charge and discharge and from deep discharge means smaller batteries are needed and they last longer, depressing battery demand and increasing supercapacitor demand.”

“The bottom line is that almost everywhere you see next generation electronic and power technology you see supercapacitors and supercabatteries being fitted or planned because of superior performance, cost-over-life and fit-and-forget.”

Source: Electrochemical Double Layer Capacitors: Supercapacitors 2014-2024

Categories: Battery Tech, General

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

14 Comments on "IDTechEx: Supercapacitors To Steal Lithium-Ion Battery Market Share"

newest oldest most voted

I’d love to see the day that supercapacitors could replace batteries. Not sure it will ever happen, but I’d welcome it.

I think they’ll do very well in the PHEV market.

I could really see them being popular among modders, too. 3 kWh is all you need for 1000kW+ over 10 seconds, so even 50 Wh/kg is enough.

I haven’t spent much time studying this but it seems like the guy has a point for some apps. I would say the super caps shining point is C rate (or power). so if you hand pick the app where you need a high C rate at low ambients it might work to do a Cap/ battery Hybrid.

They really don’t work in Tesla situation though where they have a huge battery so C rate is not that Critical and cycle life is not critical.

“Replace” may not be the right word to use when discussing Super-Capacitorstors and Lithium-Ion batteries. A better word is “complement” … when paired together there are advantages to supplying high current at high kW/kg combined with kWh capacity for longer running endurance. Supercapacitors kind of work like a supercharger on ICE-V adds to existing power; but without the ICE, the vehicle won’t go very far. 😉 The photo of the e-dragster above is an ideal target for supercapacitorstors as a typical run is under 30 seconds. No need for minutes, or hours of capacity to travel many miles … just the first one, fully amped! It will be a while before we see supercapacitors alone going more than 25 miles. For street EVs, supercapacitorstors can complement a regular Li-Ion pack by providing extra power to accelerate, and more efficient regen when breaking (as can capture energy faster). Over time the supercapacitorstors would reduce discharge/charge cycles on the main pack and reduce peak current loads which could extend number of cycles and life of the pack. Reducing number of small repeated cycles (from start/stop) also reduces internal heating of the battery, thus less energy for cooling is needed. A supercapacitorstor of… Read more »
Electric Car Guest Drive

A typical run is well below 10 seconds actually. Garlits’ best run with the Swamp Rat (in photo) was 7.26 seconds at 184.01 mph.

‘They have replaced Li-ion batteries in most Chinese buses, despite greater up-front price’

That sounds pretty odd to me since BYD have just taken an order from one city for 2,000 of their Lithium Iron battery buses.

I can’t be bothered to track down what in the world they are on about though.

One technology alone does not rule the market now and it will not rule the market in the future.

Super-caps will become more common, Mazda currently use them in their re-gen breaking (an extremely mild hybrid, I think they use the power to run the radio and reduce the load on the alternator) and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the auto-makers with smaller batteries in their PHEV didn’t start to use super-caps to reduce the number of times the engine has to click in to assist the batteries but I think we are quite a long way from getting enough energy to run a car for any sort of distance.

Hopefully after market workshops will start to use super-caps and extra (or much larger traction motors) to modify existing EV’s. I’d love to see a modified AWD i-MiEV beating a Tesla over the 1/4 mile……. or even better a Smart. Mmmmmmm 4 wheel drive vectored thrust micro-cars.

Supercaps are great for fast discharging AND fast charging. I imagine a kind of hybrid battery-capacitor, like 10 kWh in supercaps and 20 to x kWh in Li-Ion. The 10 kWh supercaps aka 40 miles could be quick charged in seconds. So each stop at charging facilities could give you at least a 40 mile boost + normal Li-Ion charge speed. Supercaps would also help regen and reduce cycles and demand-spikes for the normal battery. High energy & low cycle chemistries like Li-sulfur could be made possible by these supercaps.

Yet again someone is pipedreaming on teradollar level investment opportunity.

Why people act like there was no Tesla in the existence? Tesla’s batteries has energy density about 270 Wh / kg and their energy storage batteries has energy density 200 Wh / kg.

These SuperCaps make the most sense for a hybrid, not a plug-in. Just imagine a car like the Accord Hybrid that has no multi-speed transmission, but has a 200kW electric motor, inverter, super-cap. In this application, the kWh is not nearly as important as the kW. Honda would be able to down-size the ICE engine quite a lot because it would only have to sustain aerodynamic and friction loads, not acceleration.
When I test drove an Accord Hybrid, there was a note on the inside of the hood about storing the car – it could permanently damage the high voltage battery if the car was not started periodically. I seem to recall 3 months…?

I think supercaps are perfect for storage systems if they accieve 40 Wh/kg. Because then you have a heavy block down in your house, but who cares if it weights 10 times the amount of a battery, but can cycle l0 time more until it gets to 70% of initial storage….

Cyclelife is the most important part for storage!

Batteries can increase their recharge rate by trading electrode thickness for more electrode area. In a sense, this mimics capacitors. But fundamentally batteries store energy in a chemical form while capacitors store it in electrostatic form. If one was to produce a 500 Wh/Kg capacitor he would have as much potential at Smith&Wesson than at Tesla. That is because such a capacitor would be like high explosive. A rupture system releasing in a short circuit all the energy would cause a vaporization of all the constituting materials. In its turn this fast expending vaporized material would cause de detonation just like TNT would. The interesting advantage is that you could make capacitor based munitions that would intrinsically be safe as long as they are not charged. Furthermore, the rupture could be as simple as applying an extra overload voltage to initiate the vaporization. So you get electric activation instead of mechanical. The rest would be the same with a Bullitt propelled down a metal tube in the aimed direction. Of course the same capacitor explosive could be used to make grenades, mines or whatever bomb. They could also be used to make safer explosive bolts in space applications. Capacitexplosive bolts… Read more »

NSA here, we’ll make sure to make sure you don’t buy any 500 Wh/Kg capacitors anytime soon.

What would the time frame be for a Graphene Supercapacitor to come to market? Would they start with small ones for the Hobby market?