Skip to main content

Ultracapacitors: The Next Big Thing in Energy Storage?

We've all heard of the battery, of course -- but how many of us have heard of the ultracapacitor? I'm guessing that's a pretty small slice of the audience, so I'm pleased to say that that's about to change when you listen to my conversation with Mark McGough, CEO, of Oneonta, N.Y.-based Ioxus, the world's top-tier producer of ultracapacitor-based energy storage systems.

A veteran of the alternative energy space, Mark has been at the helm at Ioxus since 2010. He talked ultracapacitor functionality, applications, and why ultracapacitors are being touted as the next big thing in energy storage. Even Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX fame has indicated that ultracapacitors will be the future of the electric car. Who knew?

So what exactly is an ultracapacitor? To say that it is a battery on steroids is oversimplifying things, but they do, indeed, more or less look like a battery, are more powerful than a battery, and can be charged and discharged up to a million times and in just a matter of seconds -- obvious advantages over battery technology. They basically store and release energy quickly, which in the world of renewable energy is rapidly changing the energy storage landscape.

When paired with a battery (or by itself) they are the power on board allowing manufacturing equipment, buses, passenger cars, wind turbines to achieve performance that they could never have achieved with battery technology alone. On hybrid buses, for instance, ultracapacitors are pivotal in making them cleaner and more fuel-efficient by providing propulsion. On wind turbines they provide the adjustment of the blades in different wind conditions allowing for more efficient energy harvesting.

Although the ultracapacitor market is worldwide, the market for Ioxus (and most likely its competitors) is still primarily overseas in China and Japan. In fact, two-thirds of Ioxus products are shipped to those countries. Mark threw out this astounding fact: China is putting up wind turbines at a rate of one every 90 minutes around the clock. China is also in the throes of putting a fleet of 300,000 hybrid buses on the road as well.

Although the lion's share of products are still shipped overseas, the U.S. has secured a leadership position in energy storage and most definitely in the world of ultracapacitors. Mark doesn't see that changing because the U.S. is churning out the most innovative technology entrepreneurs and materials scientists in the world and heavily investing in research and development.

And this translates into good news on the job front. In the fall of 2010, when Mark came on board at Ioxus, there were 19 employees. Now they have 82 and it's about to get even higher. And I gathered from our conversation that this is a pretty standard trend in the ultracapacitor /energy storage world.

So will ultracapacitors be part of our every day language in the next 5-10 years? They may not roll of the tongue like a battery per say but what is certain is that the technology is getting better every day and that with universal increased commitment to renewable energy, energy storage becomes ever essential. We may not ask for ultracapacitors by name now, but if Mark has anything to say about it, we will very soon.


Popular posts from this blog

Banner Engineering DF-G3 Discrete Fiber Amplifier Features World-Class Long Range Sensing Capability

Banner Engineering introduces its DF-G3 discrete long-range fiber amplifier with dual digital displays for use with plastic and glass fiber optic assemblies. Featuring increased sensing power, the DF-G3 can sense more than 3 meters (10 ft.) with opposed mode fibers or more than 1 meter (3 ft.) with diffuse mode fibers. The extra power provides increased detection reliability for dark targets at long range and enhanced detection sensitivity when using specialty fiber assemblies for large area and small part detection applications.

The DF-G3 is available with a single discrete output or two dual discrete outputs. The dual discrete outputs can be independently taught to trigger at different intensity values, which is ideal for correct part-in-place or error-proofing, bottle down, and edge guiding applications.

“We developed the DF-G3 fiber amplifier to meet our customers’ need to precisely detect smaller targets at longer ranges” said Dennis Smith, Senior Marketing Manager, Banner Engin…


TURCK is now offering the option to completely shield M8 picofast ® cordsets by connecting a braided shield directly to the coupling nut. This provides a cost-effective and reliable connection with 100 percent cable and connector shielding, which protects against electromagnetic and radio frequency interference.

The 3 and 4-pin cordsets are available with flexlife ® PVC or PUR jacketed cable. All connectors deliver IEC IP 67 protection.

The M8 picofast line, like most TURCK cordsets, provides male or female, straight and right angle connectors, standard and custom lengths, and pigtails or extensions. Fully encapsulated mating receptacles are also offered, completing the system.

IDEC Releases New Line of High Efficiency Power Supplies

IDEC Corporation announces the PS5R-V line of DIN-rail power supplies, offering their customers high-efficiency in a compact form factor at competitive prices. These power supplies suit a wide range of needs in the industrial marketplace, and carry all of the required certifications necessary for use in these demanding applications. This next generation of the industry standard PS5R power supply family has updated features and specifications to meet current and future needs.

The PS5R-V line of power supplies includes 10W, 15W, 30W, 60W and 120W versions, with additional versions coming soon. These power supplies have a very compact form factor with overall dimensions reduced by up to 25% from previous generations. The reduced form factors combine with DIN-rail mounting to free up valuable control panel space and reduce installation costs.

Operating temperature ranges up to -25 to +75 degrees C offer more versatility. These extended operating temperature ranges often allow these power…