Supercsapacitor - Time to deliver a Constant Power


A supercapacitor (SC) (sometimes ultracapacitor, formerly electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC)) is a high-capacity electrochemical capacitor with capacitance values greater than 1,000 farads at 1.2 volt that bridge the gap between electrolytic capacitors and rechargeable batteries. They typically store 10 to 100 times more energy per unit volume or mass than electrolytic capacitors, can accept and deliver charge much faster than batteries, and tolerate many more charge and discharge cycles than rechargeable batteries. They are however 10 times larger than conventional batteries for a given charge.

Supercapacitors are used in applications requiring many rapid charge/discharge cycles rather than long term compact energy storage: within cars, buses, trains, cranes and elevators, where they are used for regenerative braking, short-term energy storage or burst-mode power delivery. Smaller units are used as memory backup for static random-access memory (SRAM).

Supercapacitors do not use the conventional solid dielectric of ordinary capacitors. They use electrostatic double-layer capacitance or electrochemical pseudocapacitance or a combination of both instead:
Electrostatic double-layer capacitors use carbon electrodes or derivatives with much higher electrostatic double-layer capacitance than electrochemical pseudocapacitance, achieving separation of charge in a Helmholtz double layer at the interface between the surface of a conductive electrode and an electrolyte. The separation of charge is of the order of a few ångströms (0.3–0.8 nm), much smaller than in a conventional capacitor.
Electrochemical pseudocapacitors use metal oxide or conducting polymer electrodes with a high amount of electrochemical pseudocapacitance. Pseudocapacitance achieved by Faradaic electron charge-transfer with redox reactions, intercalation or electrosorption.
Hybrid capacitors, such as the lithium-ion capacitor, use electrodes with differing characteristics: one exhibiting mostly electrostatic capacitance and the other mostly electrochemical capacitance.

The electrolyte forms a conductive connection between the two electrodes which distinguishes them from electrolytic capacitors where the electrolyte is the second electrode (the cathode). Supercapacitors are polarized by design with asymmetric electrodes, or, for symmetric electrodes, by a potential applied during manufacture.

Supercapacitors do not support AC applications.

Supercapacitors have advantages in applications where a large amount of power is needed for a relatively short time, where a very high number of charge/discharge cycles or a longer lifetime is required. Typical applications range from milliamp currents or milliwatts of power for up to a few minutes to several amps current or several hundred kilowatts power for much shorter periods.

If the application needs a constant power P for a certain time t this can be calculated as shown here.

Related formulas


ttime t a supercapacitor can deliver a constant power P (s)
Ppower (watt)
Ccapacitor (farad)
Uchargecharge voltage (V)
Uminminimum voltage (V)