Capacitors to Supersede Batteries?

07-Apr-2011

One of the problems capacitors face is the ratio of energy stored to their weight - batteries are already heavy enough but capacitors at the moment are worse. Still there's a lot of research in this area and some are optimistic:

earth2tech: Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk says he bets that it could be capacitors — rather than batteries — that deliver an important breakthrough for electric transportation. “If I were to make a prediction, I’d think there’s a good chance that it is not batteries, but capacitors,” said Musk at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Capacitors, or ultracapacitors, are energy storage devices that can deliver quick bursts of intense power and can withstand more charge and discharge cycles than batteries. They’re like batteries, and can be used in complement with batteries.

The original reason Musk came out to California years ago was to do research on advanced, high energy density capacitors at Stanford, and to try to leverage what Musk said was tens of billions of dollars of R&D that’s been applied to capacitors for advanced ship making. But then, that whole Internet thing and PayPal happened. And then Tesla (and SolarCity and SpaceX). Musk says he’s optimistic there will be a solution found by one or another companies in the capacitor space that “will supercede,” batteries.

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