Ultracapacitors are expected to displace the lithium-ion battery

Ultracapacitors, with their quick charging and discharging capabilities, are best-suited for short duration boost power applications in hybrid and electric vehicles. Advancements in ultracapacitor technology are expected to displace the lithium-ion battery as the dominant automotive battery technology. The expected takeoff in hybrid and electric cars sales will drive the demand for ultracapacitors in the automotive sector.

Revenues from ultracapacitor applications in the transportation sector are expected to grow at a CAGR of 42.5% during the forecast period of six years, from 2009 to 2015. From 2010 onwards, in automotive sector applications, ultracapacitors are expected to experience an annual revenue growth of 50% or higher.

R&D initiatives for hybrid battery/fuel cell automobiles are gathering pace with automotive majors such as Honda and Toyota testing prototypes of hybrid fuel vehicles. Ultracapacitors, due to their higher energy efficiency and power density features, are ideally suited for fuel-cell based vehicles.

Utilities are looking for alternatives for battery banks as they move ahead with the modernization of the power grid. Battery banks have been the traditional choice of utilities for the short-term electricity supply needs during power outages. However, Utilities are increasingly using modern storage devices such as ultracapacitors to ensure the continuous supply of power during the period between a power blackout and the resumption of back-up power. The deployment of ultracapacitors in the power grid is expected to gain momentum with smart grid initiatives forging ahead in key economies of the globe.

The substantial increase in the peak power needs of modern vehicles, industrial applications, and consumer electronic gadgets is expected to offer opportunity for sales growth of ultracapacitors. Ultracapacitors provide quick, short-duration energy spurts for peak power applications such as elevators, forklifts, consumer electronic gadgets and robotics applications.

The growth in back-up power devices will sustain the demand growth of ultracapacitors until 2015. Ultracapacitors are typically used in conjunction with batteries or fuel cells in back-up power applications such as Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS). Critical-load utility customers such as hospitals, cell phone towers and airport control towers deploy ultracapacitors in uninterruptible power sources. The ultracapacitors market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25.3% in dollar revenue terms during the forecast period of six years from 2009 to 2015.

High initial capital costs of ultracapacitors have restrained their uptake. Cheaper competing technologies such as batteries are denting the attractiveness of expensive ultracapacitors in applications that require moderate power supply. Capital costs associated with ultracapacitors that include a power conditioning system and all other necessary power supply equipment are high. Moreover, ultracapacitors incur high integration costs when deployed with legacy technologies.

Ultracapacitor manufacturers, keen about achieving cost reduction, are maximising their cost optimization plans to spur the sales growth of ultracapacitors. Ultracapacitor manufacturers across the globe are taking initiatives to cut down on the high capital cost of ultracapacitors that are about 50 times that of batteries. Key market players are yet to find ingredient materials that are cheaper and which have optimal safety features for use in their production. Cost improvements of ultracapacitors achieved so far are not significant enough to make an impact on the overall sales. The vendors are taking a multi-pronged approach focusing on ingredient materials and R&D among other things, to address the high capital concerns.

Global Markets Direct, the leading business intelligence provider, has released its latest research, “Global Ultracapacitors Market Analysis and Forecasts to 2015”, which provides in-depth analysis of the ultracapacitors market. The report provides detailed assessment of the global ultracapacitor industry with market revenue forecasts to 2015. The research covers revenue shares of the major end-users such as the renewable energy, industrial, transportation and consumer electronics sectors. The report identifies the key growth regions of the world for ultracapacitors sales in its section that provides region-wise analysis. The report’s treatment of the global ultracapacitor market is comprehensive with dedicated sections on technology landscape, competitive landscape, and cost analysis. It also reviews revenue trends, R&D trends and the regulatory framework of the ultracapacitors market.

Ultracapacitor Buses: A U.S.-Chinese Venture Is Out to Prove the Benefits of Quick-Charge Buses

A Chinese company, Shanghai Aowei Technology Development Company, and its United States partner, Sinautec Automobile Technologies, are saying that ultracapacitors could be the greenest and most economical way of powering inner-city buses. The companies have spent the last three years demonstrating the use of ultracapacitors in 17 municipal buses on the outskirts of Shanghai and will offer a one-day demonstration in Washington, D.C. this week.

Ultracapacitors can rapidly charge and discharge their energy, an advantage for vehicles that must stop frequently and predictably, but even the best models can only store about five percent of the energy that lithium-ion batteries hold, limiting them to a couple of miles per charge. The trick, according to the companies, is to turn some bus stops along the route into charge stations. Dan Ye, executive director of Sinautec, says "[T]he ultracapacitor bus is also cheaper than lithium-ion battery buses. We used the Olympics (lithium-ion) bus as a model and found ours about 40 percent less expensive with a far superior reliability rating. Even if you use the dirtiest coal plant on the planet, it generates a third of the carbon dioxide of diesel when used to charge an ultracapacitor." Sinautec is working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States, to develop ultracapacitors of higher energy density that use vertically aligned carbon nanotube structures, resulting in more surface area for holding a charge.