SOURCE: Greentech Media, Inc.

Greentech Media and GTM Research

March 17, 2010 14:33 ET

GTM Research Report Finds Emerging Technologies to Boost Ultracapacitors in High-Power Energy Storage Applications

R&D Activity Will Lead to Higher Capacities, Closer Matches to Application Requirements

CAMBRIDGE, MA--(Marketwire - March 17, 2010) -  Greentech Media Inc., the industry-leading online media company covering green technology news and analysis, released Ultracapacitors: Emerging Technologies for High-Power Energy Storage. Ultracapacitor energy storage capacities are likely to increase by five to 10 times in the next five years, allowing the devices to replace batteries for many power-intensive applications, including hybrid vehicle acceleration and regenerative braking.

Several laboratory ultracapacitor prototypes are already providing 10 times the power and capacity of today's commercial ultracapacitors. Key questions are how readily these materials can be mass-produced and how cost-effectively they can be made.

Given the expected boom in ultracapacitors over the next five years, and the differences among application requirements, it's likely that there will be room for several emerging technologies to reach the market.

"Emerging materials and technologies will allow ultracapacitors to take over many high-power functions from batteries, particularly where low-maintenance and high cycle life are important requirements," said Eric Smalley, the report's author. "The main limiting factor for ultracapacitors is likely to remain cost."

Cost is an issue in using ultracapacitors for large-scale grid energy storage and affects costs of hybrid and electric vehicles that use ultracapacitors. Materials account for over 50% of the total system cost of ultracapacitors.

Several methods of producing activated carbon from inexpensive precursors, including sugar and rayon, have the potential to drop the ultracapacitor active material price below the $20 per kilogram threshold. Another emerging development in ultracapacitors is devices that can be bent, shaped and flexed; making it possible to integrate energy storage devices into vehicle structural components, for example.

Vigorous R&D Activity

Some 15 startups and university spinoffs are poised to transform the ultracapacitor market with breakthroughs in materials science and nanotechnology. A range of companies, established ultracapacitor manufacturers, specialty materials firms, and international conglomerates, have all recently developed ultracapacitor technologies. Further upstream, researchers around the world are focused on pushing the boundaries of ultracapacitor science and engineering.

The report covers ultracapacitor types, applications, components, costs, performance and directions. It also profiles 15 startups, 27 manufacturers, 29 other companies and 52 researchers who work with ultracapacitors. Profiles include key recent publications, patent applications and awards, federal funding awards and other developments.

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