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ULTRACAPACITORS – A GLOBAL INDUSTRY AND MARKET ANALYSIS
Publish Date: Aug 2006,   Pages: 88,   Report Code: ET-101
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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 one can find ultracapacitors 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-assistand 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; though the power density decreases.

OBJECTIVE

The study focuses on key ultracapacitor products and provides data about the size and growth of the ultracapacitors markets, company profiles and industry trends. Also, the goal of this report is to provide a detailed and comprehensive multi-client study of the markets in North America, Europe, Japan, China, India, Korea and the rest of the world (ROW) for ultracapacitors as well as potential business opportunities in the future. The objectives include thorough coverage of underlying economic issues driving the ultracapacitors business, as well as assessments of new, advanced ultracapacitors that companies are developing. Also covered are legislative pressures for more 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 market development in ultracapacitors in the world. This, in turn, contributes to a determination of what kind of strategic response companies may adopt in order to compete in these dynamic markets. Ultracapacitors 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. Ultracapacitors exhibit in principle 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 nd hybrid vehicle applications. The pulse-power source provides the peak power during acceleration and stores regenerative energy during braking.

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 ultracapacitors business, including corporate strategies, information technologies, and the means for providing these highly advanced product and service offerings. This report also covers in detail the economic and technological issues regarded by many as critical to the industrys current state of change. It provides a review of the ultracapacitors industry and its structure, and of the many companies involved in providing these products. The competitive positions of the main players in the ultracapacitors market and the strategic options they face are also discussed, along with such competitive factors as marketing, distribution and operations.

REPORT SUMMARY

Ultracapacitors or 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 do electrostatic capacitors, making them a better choice for backup 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.

It must be realized, however, that the technology does have its limitations, and that applications requiring a long duration of discharge are probably better suites to batteries. If power requirements are found to be at the border of a batterys 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 Statcons and 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.

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 of the 50 to 60 million passenger vehicles that roll off assembly lines around the world each year.

Typical applications are pagers, personal-data assistance devices and cell phones. The GSM phone will require a 200-Hz 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.

Since electricity is transmitted at 60 or 120 Hz, this market also needs high-frequency devices based on aqueous electrodes, on a much larger scale.

REPORT HIGHLIGHTS

Ultracapacitors market growth will continue during 2006 to 2011. The $272 million (in US$) worldwide ultracapacitor business in 2006 will continue to grow at an AAGR of 15.3% through 2011.

In 2005, the global ultracapacitors market was estimated at US $238 million. This market is expected to grow to over US $272 million by 2006 and over US $560 million by 2011.

There are three major markets where ultracapacitors are needed, each having its own specific requirements. These are automotive, consumer electronics and industrial power management.

The automotive market wants to use ultracapacitors as load-leveling devices with batteries in electric and hybrid vehicles. By far the highest-value target for ultracapacitor technology is the global automobile industry.

The consumer electronics market needs small high-frequency devices in order to reduce battery size.

The industrial power market needs ultracapacitors for power quality, using ultracapacitors to handle power surges and short-term power loss.
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