By Adrian Schneuwly, Gianni Sartorelli, Jurgen Auer and Bobby Maher
There has been a lot of progress in control and motor design, due to the increasing power demand in electric applications, as well as ongoing pressures for more environmentally friendly and high efficiency solutions. However, designers and engineers have not been successful with regard to the electric power storage systems. This is due primarily to the fact that batteries are used to provide the power peaks in most of the currently developed solutions relying on a power storage system. The deficiencies of battery storage systems are many and they create a variety of design challenges for engineers. Batteries have a poor low-temperature performance, a very limited lifetime under extreme conditions - resulting in repeated replacement throughout the life of the system - and they are not designed to satisfy the most important requirements of power sources: To provide bursts of power in the seconds range over many hundreds of thousands of cycles.
Today, ultracapacitors are available from major production firms in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and are available in a variety of sizes and configurations. Ultracapacitor prices are within the cost targets of many industrial systems, and will be approaching $0.01 per farad in production volumes of millions by 2004. When appropriately designed with a systems approach, they offer excellent performance, wide temperature range, long life, and flexible management. When used in combination with other energy storage solutions (e.g. lead-acid batteries, fuel engines, and fuel cells), the complete system can meet performance and cost goals unachievable with a single energy storage device. Ultracapacitors from Maxwell are available under the trade name of BOOSTCAP®.
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