SuperCapacitors - an Overview

Super capacitors are capacitors with very high capacitance values sometimes reaching up to 500 Farads.  Supercapacitors are used to store energy just like batteries.  The principle of a supercapacitor is similar to that of a capacitor.  However, the supercapacitor is built using nano-technology.  This enables the dielectric to have a very large surface area and thus store greater quantity of charge. The electrodes are usually made of activated charcoal while the dielectric is an Electrolyte soaked separator. 

Supercapacitors are advantageous over batteries in that they are lighter, more environmentally friendly and can be recycled.  Besides, supercapacitors can be  charged and discharged repeatedly unlike batteries.

Supercapacitors are also known as Ultracapacitors or Electolytic Double Layer Capacitors.   The lifetime of a supercapacitor is can be upto 100 times the lifetime of a battery. 

Supercapacitors find uses in cameras, electric automobiles, power conditioners, welders.

Supercapacitors are used as power sources in conjunction with batteries.  Supercapacitors can supply short burst of power and are useful when heavy loads are applied suddenly.  They also charge faster and absorb voltage transients better while the battery supplies the regular power requirement. 

The are also used in automobiles to where they can be charged easily and are particularly effective in recovering energy from the transmission systems through regenerative braking.

The downside of supercapacitors is the low energy to weight ratio as compared to batteries.  Further advances in technology may narrow out this difference.