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Eaton supercapacitor modules are high reliability, high power, ultra-high capacitance energy storage devices utilizing electric double layer capacitor (EDLC) cells combined with proprietary materials and processes. This combination of advanced technologies allows Eaton to offer a wide variety of supercapacitor solutions tailored to applications for backup power, peak power and hybrid power systems.

They can be applied as the sole energy storage or in combination with other energy storage technologies to optimize up front and operational costs, equipment lifetimes and power requirements for lowest total cost of ownership or higher return on investment.  System capability can range from a few watts to megawatts.

All products feature low equivalent series resistance (ESR) for very high-power density and high efficiency and constructed with eco-friendly materials for an environmentally conscious solution. Eaton supercapacitors are maintenance-free with design lifetimes up to 20 years and operating temperatures down to -40 °C and up to +85 °C. 

Ideal applications of supercapacitor applications range from power quality support, material handling systems, transportation, electric rail/traction, renewable distributed energy resource (DER) integration, microgrid and utility T&D.  Supercapacitors provide unique benefits in each of these applications that are described in each section below.  The supercapacitor module guidelines application note  provides detailed information on Eaton’s supercapacitor module technology, operational characteristics, rating definitions and lifetime considerations.  If there are additional questions on applying supercapacitors in your application, please contact us or your local Eaton sales representative for further application support.  

Power Quality/Backup Power

Energy storage has long been a core component for backup power where reliable power quality is a necessity. Batteries, specifically lead acid chemistries, have often been a first choice due to their over 100-year history.  However, new advances in supercapacitor technologies now provide a viable and cost-effective alternative for certain backup power applications. Eaton offers a suite of supercapacitor modules ideal for integration into power quality equipment, such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and similar voltage sag ridethrough equipment. Due to supercapacitors storing charge electrostatically, they offer ultra-fast response times, high efficiency and inherent reliability; all of which are key characteristics in backup power applications. The maintenance free nature of supercapacitors along with very long lifetimes offer low energy storage total cost of ownership. Please see below for more information on how supercapacitors can help solve common problems found in different backup power and power quality applications. 

  • Energy storage total cost of ownership comparisons in critical power applications

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Material handling

Globalization has increased the need to move materials around the world, from large ISO containers at sea ports to small packages at regional/local warehouses.  Efficient use of power throughout these systems ensure logistics companies provide efficient and rapid service.  Using highly efficient supercapacitors can help reduce operational costs through regenerative systems for large material handling systems, such as port cranes.  Expanding e-commerce and the necessity to shorten delivery times to remain competitive has increase the need to develop distributed supply chains.  This is driving construction of warehouses with automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) using automated guided vehicles (AGVs), pallet or carton shuttles and other electrically powered equipment.  Rapid recharge and high-power density can help shrink footprints and longer lifetimes offer reduced maintenance costs.  

Material handling occurs in a variety of environments as well.  Outdoor systems can present challenging high temperature operating conditions for many electrochemical energy storage solutions while indoor freezer warehouses can render many battery technologies ineffective for pallet shuttles.  Supercapacitors offer operating temperatures from -40 °C up to +65 °C that can overcome these challenging conditions to either replace or augment battery systems to provide optimal performance in virtually all material handling environments.  

Video

 
Eaton’s XTM-18 and XVM-16 supercapacitor modules provide energy storage for highpower, high charge/discharge applications such as material handling systems, warehouse automation machines, small engine starting and wind turbines.

Transportation (vehicle & rail/traction)

Supercapacitors are a proven energy storage component in the transportation segment that includes commercial electric vehicles, passenger cars, light rail and traction.  The growth of electrification in this segment to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions will continue to expand the use of supercapacitors and their unique benefits. Frequently, the use of regenerative systems can improve the energy efficiency in hybrid or fully electric powertrains and supercapacitors are the ideal energy storage solution due to their high-power density and long lifetimes.   Another key factor in transportation applications is the variety of climates in which vehicles need to operate.  The highly reliable operation of supercapacitors in temperature range from -40 °C to +85 °C offer peace of mind when operating in extreme weather.  

Utility, renewables and microgrid

The integration of more distributed energy resources (DERs) throughout the utility grid has made meeting energy supply and demand more challenging and ultimately impacts the grid’s resilience.  Supercapacitor energy storage can help solve this growing problem in multiple ways.   Due to their very high-power density, they can synthetically inject the inertia that traditional sources like fossil fuel plants have previously provided without requiring large footprints.  The long cycle life of supercapacitors also can support ancillary services such as frequency regulation.  Supercapacitors can also improve the reliability and utilization of DERs such as photovoltaic and wind through ramp rate control.  A balance of energy dense resources like batteries and power dense supercapacitors can provide an optimal solution to improve renewable utilization and overall grid resilience.  

Sizing

With the wide variety different energy storage requirements among the listed applications, determining the number of supercapacitors that can support the necessary loads requires some careful consideration.   Supercapacitor modules can be configured in series to increase the working voltage, which is referred to as a module string.  Individual modules or strings of modules can be configured in parallel to meet application needs with respect to current or power required over a desired timeframe.  To assist in determining the number of modules in series and those subsequent strings in parallel, Eaton has developed a calculator tool containing all supercapacitors.  This sizing calculator provides high level electrical characteristics (with different life conditions) and matching these characteristics to various supercapacitor configurations / alternatives.  The requested information will require the following information:

  • Discharge Type (constant power or constant current)
  • Power or current required (based on above selection)
  • Discharge time
  • Maximum system voltage
  • Operating voltage
  • Minimum system voltage

Charge and discharge

Supercapacitors are capable of flexible discharging to meet constant power, constant current or varying energy cycle requirements without any need to modify the configuration or resulting impact on lifetimes.   Examples of constant current and constant power are shown below.  Due to their low ESR, supercapacitors offer very high-power density which allows for high power discharging (C rate equivalent for batteries) over millions of cycles.  This can help reduce oversizing that is common with electrochemical energy storage, which can reduce energy storage footprints.  

Eaton’s supercapacitor sizing tool offers a rea time illustration of discharge characteristics after supercapacitors are sized to the application.   See tool here

Example voltage and current discharge curves for 10 kW discharge-eaton-supercapacitor-modules-application-guidelines.jpg

Figure 1a.

Example voltage and current discharge curves for 10 kW discharge from an XLM-62 Supercapacitor module with 56 V float voltage.

Example voltage and current discharge curves for 500 A-eaton-supercapacitor-modules-application-guidelines-2.jpg

Figure 1b.

Example voltage and current discharge curves for 500 A discharge from an XLM-62 Supercapacitor module with 56 V float voltage.

Similarly, supercapacitors offer low restrictions on the charge rate they can accept without impacts on lifetime.  They can be charged just as fast as they are capable of discharging.   Quite often, the charging rate limitation is driven from the charging infrastructure in the overall power distribution scheme. 

For high duty cycle applications or constant cycling applications, heat rise should be considered.  Please see the charging section of the Application Guidelines for more information.  

Lifetime and temperature

Energy storage lifetimes are often listed in both calendar life and cycle life.   Eaton’s supercapacitors can offer calendar lifetimes of up to 20 years and cycle lifetimes over 1 million cycles.   Each of these are defined against end of life conditions, which is measured as a change against initial capacitance and a change against initial ESR.  Each module has specific end of life conditions that are listed on their respective datasheets.   Calendar life of Eaton’s supercapacitors is dependent on a function of charge voltage and temperature in which the supercapacitor operates.  Eaton offers supercapacitor modules that operate in a -40 °C to +65 °C (further operation to +85 °C possible) temperature range.  Please contact us for supercapacitor lifetime estimates in your application.  

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