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The meaning of «supercapacitor»

A supercapacitor (SC), also called an ultracapacitor, is a high-capacity capacitor with a capacitance value much higher than other capacitors, but with lower voltage limits, that bridges the gap between electrolytic capacitors and rechargeable batteries. It typically stores 10 to 100 times more energy per unit volume or mass than electrolytic capacitors, can accept and deliver charge much faster than batteries, and tolerates many more charge and discharge cycles than rechargeable batteries.[citation needed]

Supercapacitors are used in applications requiring many rapid charge/discharge cycles, rather than long term compact energy storage — in automobiles, buses, trains, cranes and elevators, where they are used for regenerative braking, short-term energy storage, or burst-mode power delivery.[2] Smaller units are used as power backup for static random-access memory (SRAM).

Unlike ordinary capacitors, supercapacitors do not use the conventional solid dielectric, but rather, they use electrostatic double-layer capacitance and electrochemical pseudocapacitance,[3] both of which contribute to the total capacitance of the capacitor, with a few differences:

The electrolyte forms an ionic conductive connection between the two electrodes which distinguishes them from conventional electrolytic capacitors where a dielectric layer always exists, and the so-called electrolyte, e.g., MnO2 or conducting polymer, is in fact part of the second electrode (the cathode, or more correctly the positive electrode). Supercapacitors are polarized by design with asymmetric electrodes, or, for symmetric electrodes, by a potential applied during manufacture.

Development of the double layer and pseudocapacitance models (see Double layer (interfacial)).

In the early 1950s, General Electric engineers began experimenting with porous carbon electrodes in the design of capacitors, from the design of fuel cells and rechargeable batteries. Activated charcoal is an electrical conductor that is an extremely porous "spongy" form of carbon with a high specific surface area. In 1957 H. Becker developed a "Low voltage electrolytic capacitor with porous carbon electrodes".[4][5][6] He believed that the energy was stored as a charge in the carbon pores as in the pores of the etched foils of electrolytic capacitors. Because the double layer mechanism was not known by him at the time, he wrote in the patent: "It is not known exactly what is taking place in the component if it is used for energy storage, but it leads to an extremely high capacity."

General Electric did not immediately pursue this work. In 1966 researchers at Standard Oil of Ohio (SOHIO) developed another version of the component as "electrical energy storage apparatus", while working on experimental fuel cell designs.[7][8] The nature of electrochemical energy storage was not described in this patent. Even in 1970, the electrochemical capacitor patented by Donald L. Boos was registered as an electrolytic capacitor with activated carbon electrodes.[9]

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