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ULTRACAPACITORS FOR STATIONARY, INDUSTRIAL, CONSUMER AND TRANSPORT ENERGY STORAGE – AN INDUSTRY, TECHNOLOGY AND MARKET ANALYSIS
Publish Date: Feb 2010,   Pages: 171,   Report Code: ET-111
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Although ultracapacitors have been around since the 1960s, they are relatively expensive and only recently have begun to be manufactured in sufficient quantities to become cost competitive. Today ultracapacitors can be found in a range of electronic devices, from computers to cars.


An ultracapacitor (supercapacitor or electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC)) stores more power than a battery and more energy than a capacitor. For this reason, it brings significant benefits in both “peak-assist” and “power-assist” applications.


Traditional symmetric supercapacitors with two identical electrodes work by storing energy electrostatically, by polarizing an electrolyte solution at the electrode surface. Most advanced ultracapacitors today use two carbon electrodes with an organic electrolyte. This creates a problem for designers, since the energy that carbon-carbon electrodes are able to store effectively is limited, and the electrolyte is both expensive and potentially hazardous. The next generation of supercapacitors (asymmetric or hybrid supercapacitors) substitutes one of the carbon electrodes for a “redox” electrode similar to those used in batteries. The use of a battery-like electrode, in combination with a carbon electrode, increases the energy density considerably, although the power density decreases.


The terms, “supercapacitor,” ”ultracapacitor,” and ”electrochemical double layer capacitor,” have been used indiscriminately in literature in reference to high capacitance devices. It is generally recognized that these terms are interchangeable depending on the manufacturer. Throughout the rest of this report, the term “ultracapacitor” will generally be adopted, for the sole purpose of keeping with consistency.


STUDY GOAL AND OBJECTIVES


This study focuses on key ultracapacitor products and provides data about the size and growth of the ultracapacitor markets, as well as company profiles and industry trends. The goal of this report is to provide a detailed and comprehensive multi-client study of the markets for ultracapacitors in North America, Europe, Japan, China, Korea and the rest of the world (ROW), as well as potential business opportunities in the future. The objectives include thorough coverage of underlying economic issues driving the ultracapacitor business, as well as assessments of new, advanced ultracapacitors that companies are developing. Also covered are legislative pressures for increased safety and environmental protection, as well as users’ expectations for economical ultracapacitors. Another important objective is to provide realistic market data and forecasts for ultracapacitors. This study provides the most thorough and up-to-date assessment that can be found anywhere on the subject. The study also provides extensive quantification of the many important facets of worldwide market development in ultracapacitors. This, in turn, contributes to a determination of what kind of strategic response companies may adopt in order to compete in these dynamic markets.


Ultracapacitor users in developed markets must contend with twin pressures: to innovate and, at the same time, to reduce costs. New applications for ultracapacitors have been proposed in recent years. The popularity of these devices is due to their long cycle life and high power density relative to batteries. In principle, ultracapacitors exhibit unlimited cycle life and maintenance-free operation as an alternative to batteries in power circuits. A new, promising application for ultracapacitors is a pulse-power source in fuel cell and hybrid vehicle applications. The pulse-power source provides the peak power during acceleration and stores regenerative energy during braking.


REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY


The ultracapacitor market is an attractive and still growing multi-million dollar market characterized by very high production volumes of ultracapacitors that must be both extremely reliable and low in cost. Growth in the ultracapacitor market continues to be driven by increasing demands in fuel-cell and hybrid-vehicle applications, for industrial systems and consumer electronics. Existing products will continue to find new applications, and new products will emerge to improve functionality.


The ultracapacitor industry is complex and fast-moving, with manufacturers increasingly adopting a truly global view of the market. Around the world, consumers are demanding a high power density as well as extremely long cycle life. The energy density of ultracapacitors is small compared with that of batteries. Against this difficult background, manufacturers have attempted to achieve growth through company mergers and acquisitions, and by implementing global strategies.


Ultracapacitors, once a technological novelty, are now mainstream and are showing significant sales volumes. As prices of ultracapacitors drop, better commercial viability and growing dissatisfaction with existing energy-storage solutions are expected to steer customers toward this emerging technology. Mobile applications are a strong area of growth for ultracapacitors, as continuous product enhancements and value-added features such as on-line gaming and Wi-Fi accessibility necessarily require more power. Demand from the industrial sector is also expected to increase. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and DC power systems are looking at incorporating ultracapacitors as the primary energy-storage solution to boost power reliability.


iRAP conducted a study on ultrascapacitors in 2006. Since then, more new-generation electric and hybrid vehicles have been coming into the market. Therefore, iRAP felt a need for another detailed study in order to better understand both the technology and market dynamics. The report identifies and evaluates automotive electric product markets and technologies with significant potential growth.


CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE STUDY


This study provides the most complete accounting of growth in the ultracapacitor market in North America, Europe, Japan, China and the rest of the world currently available in a multi-client format. It provides the most thorough and up-to-date assessment that can be found anywhere on the subject. The study also provides extensive quantification of the many important facets of market developments in emerging markets for stationary, industrial, consumer and transport energy storage. The study has also included new usage of ultracapacitors in automatic power metering, energy harvesting devices for wireless networking, and hard disk drives of notebooks. This quantification, in turn, contributes to the determination of what kind of strategic response suppliers may adopt in order to compete in these dynamic markets. Audiences for this study include marketing executives, business unit managers and other decision makers in ultracapacitor companies as well as in companies peripheral to this business.


SCOPE AND FORMAT


The market data contained in this report quantify opportunities for ultracapacitors. In addition to product types, this report also covers the many issues concerning the merits and future prospects of the ultracapacitor business, including corporate strategies, information technologies, and the means for providing these highly advanced product and service offerings.


The supply chain is of keen interest, focusing on the use of carbon cloth and powder, the need for higher voltages per cell, automation, and lower raw materials prices.  The industry has set price targets of $0.01 to $ 0.005 per farad by 2010.


This report also covers in detail the economic and technological issues regarded by many as critical to the industry’s current state of change. It provides a review of the ultracapacitor industry and its structure, and of the many companies involved in providing these products. The competitive positions of the main players in the ultracapacitor market and the strategic options they face are also discussed, along with such competitive factors as marketing, distribution and operations.


TO WHOM THE STUDY CATERS


This study addresses the global market for electric double layer carbon (EDLC) supercapacitors, which uniquely combine the characteristics of extremely high capacitance (in the farad range) in low voltage cells (1.2 to 2.5 Vdc in large quantities).


The study looks at this fledging market – the players, the technical challenges, and technical threats, the activated carbon supply chain, and the end markets in which these devices are consumed. including stationary, industrial, consumer and transport energy storage. It further focuses on coin cells and large can supercapacitors and the rapid growth of large can designs in variable speed drives, and heavy trucks and buses.


Therefore, this study will benefit existing manufacturers of capacitors who seek to expand revenues and market opportunities by expanding to new technology such as ultracapacitors, which are positioned to become a preferred solution for some of the energy storage and power delivery applications. Also, this study will benefit users of ultracapacitors who deal with new power-hungry electronic products such as wireless communications devices, the increasing use of electric power in vehicles, and the growing demand for highly reliable, maintenance-free backup power. These demands are creating significant markets for new and improved energy storage and power delivery solutions. For example, sizing the primary power source to meet transient peak power requirements, rather than average power requirements, is costly and inefficient. Primary energy sources can be designed to be smaller, lighter and less costly if they are coupled with specialized power components, such as ultracapacitors, that can deliver or absorb brief bursts of high power on demand for periods of time ranging from fractions of a second to several minutes.


REPORT SUMMARY


Ultracapacitors and electric double-layer capacitors (EDLCs) fill an important and otherwise vacant niche in the current set of energy storage devices, bridging the gap between batteries and conventional capacitors. They offer greater energy densities than electrostatic capacitors, making them a better choice for back-up applications. They also possess higher power densities than batteries, allowing them to perform a role in load-leveling of pulsed currents. They can help to improve battery performance when combined in hybrid power sources, or they can provide an efficient and long-lasting means of energy storage when used on their own.


However, the technology does have limitations, and applications requiring a long duration of discharge are probably better suited to batteries. If power requirements are found to be at the border of a battery’s capabilities, a hybrid EDLC/battery configuration may be an optimal solution. Advantage can then be gained from both the power density of the EDLC and the energy storage of the battery. This would seem to be the case in electric vehicles, which require power for acceleration in short bursts. The fast response time of EDLCs also makes them suitable for power-quality applications such as static condensers (STATCONs) and digital video recorders (DVRs). Power can quickly be injected or absorbed to help minimize voltage fluctuations in distribution systems.


The greatest barrier to the widespread use of EDLCs is cost, with only a few manufacturers producing devices by automation. Long-established battery technology is often the cheaper alternative, despite the reduced lifetime costs of double-layer capacitor banks. The technology is still in its infancy, however, and it will no doubt become a more competitive energy storage solution in the future.


Ultracapacitors have to be able to stand up to tough environments. Dirt, humidity, salt, fuel additives, vibrations and severe shocks call for the highest standards. Furthermore, ultracapacitors must be able to endure in temperatures ranging from -40°C to +160°C without significant deviation in accuracy over the entire lifetime of a vehicle, standby equipment, or device.
 

The GSM phone will require a 200Hz response time to improve the transmit burst in a digital phone system. In these devices, high power is more important than energy density. Therefore, to get the desired frequency response, ultracapacitors will use aqueous electrolytes that provide much lower resistance. To attain these frequencies, carbon electrodes need to be thin, with large pores for rapid ion transport through the material.


By far the highest value target for ultracapacitor technology is the global automobile industry. of the 50 to 60 million passenger vehicles that roll off assembly lines around the world each year.


Major findings of this report are:


Ultracapacitor market growth will continue during 2009 to 2014. Worldwide business, over US$275 million in 2009, will continue to grow at an AAGR of 21.4% through 2014.


There are four major markets where ultracapacitors are needed – stationary, industrial, consumer and transport energy storage power management. Each has its own specific requirements.


The transport energy storage market aims to use ultracapacitors as load-leveling devices with batteries in electric and hybrid vehicles. Automotive applications range from hybrid drive trains to power network stabilization to the "electrification" of braking, steering, air conditioning and other subsystems to improve the fuel efficiency and reliability. From 2009 to 2014, transport energy applications, which are mostly automotive applications, will show the highest growth rate.


The stationary energy storage market needs ultracapacitors for short duration applications of energy storage, which are characterized by the need for high power for short periods of time. These include power quality ride-through applications, power stabilization, adjustable speed drive support, temporary support of DR (distributed resources) during load steps, voltage flicker mitigation and many other applications.


Industrial applications need ultracapacitors to improve power quality, specifically using ultracapacitors to handle power surges and short-term power loss.


The consumer electronics and computer market needs small high frequency devices in order to reduce battery size. Typical applications are pagers, personal data assistance devices and cell phones.

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