Author: Ritwik Mehta
Have you ever wondered how a 5V battery in your smartphone is able to produce a bright flash while clicking photos? Well, it is because of electrostatic capacitors that store a huge amount of energy and discharge it instantly help you to click with an LED flash. Batteries act as a constant source of power while capacitors flood with power instantaneously.
Capacitors are the ‘unsung heroes’ of power that can brighten the future for renewable energy and electric vehicle transport industries. Especially, the automobile and rail transport industry can easily see a booming future being built on ‘super capacitors’ or ‘ultra capacitors’. Charging stations for E-buses demand humongous energy, which can only be provided by super capacitors and not just simple batteries.
They can revolutionise the automobile industry with the introduction of the dynamic braking system and in static memories. These supercapacitors can be charged at tram stops without the need for overhead cables and can run between certain stops without the need to connect to a cable at all.
Why use super-capacitors instead of batteries?
A Super Capacitor is built with the combined properties of capacitors and batteries, specially fabricated to have huge power capacitance. It can be as high as 12,000 Farads, which releases immense power in a single charge. High charge and discharge currents can be achieved due to low inbuilt resistance! As compared to batteries, super-capacitors do not produce any heat and have a virtually infinite lifecycle.
Battery & Supercapacitor Comparison
|Power density (Watt/kg)||1,500||3,000 – 40,000|
|Cyclability (No. of recharges)||500 – 1,000||>500,000|
|Life||5-10 years||10-15 years|
|Risk of explosion||Yes||Nil|
|Charging 1 cell||Complex||Easy|
|Cost per kWh||>INR15,200||>INR760,000|
This comparison table shows that supercapacitors perform much better than batteries, but their cost is exorbitantly high currently!
Recent Innovations in Supercapacitors in India
Supernova Sports Car
Gujarat-based Golden Arrow Wireless Pvt Ltd. has developed Supernova Electric Vehicle. This sports car has the capability to cover 1,000 kilometres at a top speed of 150 Km/hr in a single charge. However, experts doubt the company’s claim since Supernova’s range will be beating Tesla’s sports car range of 440 kms! Despite having a whopping price tag of 2.5 million rupees, this Made-In-India concept has attracted many investors and it already has an order list of 250 units.
Energy Storing Body Panels
These energy storing body panels will be made up of polymer fiber and carbon resin, which will capture energy by regenerative braking and when the car is plugged in overnight. This will lead to less usage of batteries and make the car more light-weight. Toyota is looking forward to making such panels that will store solar energy.
Gone are the days when we had to import Supercapacitors and batteries, but today with the vision of NITI Aayog, India has entered into the market of manufacturing batteries for EVs. One such example is Mumbai’s start-up Gegadyne Energy started by Jubin Varghese and Ameya Gadiwan. These two mechatronics engineering students went on to study Tesla’s Model S and Model X cars and then went to a junkyard to create their new technology. Although they had to drop out of college to startup, but their decision gave them ample time to research on rectifying mistakes in Supercapacitors.
They mixed graphene and other composite nanomaterials, which led to an exponential increase in the energy density of their battery and brought down the discharge rate. Now with the help of IIT-B and DRDO, they have successfully managed to test an electric scooter using their own invented batteries. Now, they have a plan to launch their first plant by 2020 in Maharashtra. It has also been awarded as ‘The Energy Startup of the year 2019’.
Companies like Fortum India, EESL, EVE Motors, Magenta Power and Exicom are involved in setting up charging stations all across the nation. Under the Government of India’s ‘Faster Adoption & Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles’ (FAME) scheme incentives are provided to give a boost to the charging infrastructure in the country. By 2020, there will be vehicle charging stations at every 25km along a highway.
The time has come when supercapacitors can move away from mundane applications such as memory protection and power backup to be used as power storage in hybrid vehicles and charging stations. So, without an iota of doubt, we can clearly state that supercapacitors in India are the future of energy storage systems. With an emphasis on climate change and the need for renewable energy sources, future power sources will be a combination of advanced conventional and emerging technologies.