How Supercapacitors Could Make Batteries a Thing of the Past

How Supercapacitors Could Make Batteries a Thing of the Past

Researchers recently and quite accidentally
discovered something that could change the
whole electric car ballgame.
If their predictions are accurate, we could
one day live in a world where cars can be
fully charged in minutes instead of hours,
and their power storage units would last decades
instead of years.
What is this tantalizing breakthrough you
A monumental leap forward in capacitor technology.
Many of the current drawbacks of electric
cars stem from how batteries work.
Batteries rely on chemical reactions, which
means for a lithium-ion battery to release
energy you have to wait for the lithium to
shuffle through an electrolyte, and when you
want to store energy you have to wait for
the lithium to shuffle back.
Lithium-ion batteries also degrade, and replacing
one in an electric car would be enormously
In contrast capacitors store static electricity,
like what builds up on a balloon as you rub
it on your hair.
Capacitors can be as simple as two metal plates
separated by air.
When a current is applied to the plates, a
positive charge builds up on one plate and
a negative charge builds up on the other.
No electrolytes, no shuffling ions, just electrons
on a plate waiting to pounce like a caged
As a result capacitor can be fully charged
almost instantly, and since they can also
deliver energy quickly, that means capacitors
can provide more power than batteries.
They are much more durable than lithium-ion
batteries too, lasting through tons of charge
and discharge cycles with little degradation.
There is an achilles heel: they just can’t
hold very much energy.
There are tricks to squeeze more charge onto
the plates, like increasing their surface
area and reducing the distance between them
by swapping out the air with a thin insulator.
Do that and you’ve created a supercapacitor,
but even then, the best supercapacitors today
hold just 10 watt-hours per kilogram, about
5% of the energy of a lithium ion battery
of the same weight.
You would need a capacitor the size of a bus
to get any real use out of it.
As it happens in 2010 Shanghai experimented
with electric buses powered by capacitors
that charged up every couple of stops.
That’s a pretty clever use for them, but
if you want a personal car smaller than a
bus that can travel more than five miles without
stopping, capacitors are going to have to
step up their game.
Bizarrely the big breakthrough in supercapacitor
technology may come from… contact lenses?
Soft contacts use a polymer mesh that can
swell up and store water.
One of the original inventors has been tinkering
with the polymer ever since, and found that
adding different elements imbues it with different
properties, like the ability to store electricity.
Actually they were shocked at just how much
energy the polymer could store.
A 2016 test of the little blue material found
it stored 100 times the energy the researchers
Since then they’ve been testing the material
to see if it works in real world conditions,
and after 14 months of research have concluded
that the material could eventually store 180
watt-hours per kilogram, putting it almost
on par with battery energy density, at least
by weight.
The supercapacitors could be quite a bit more
voluminous, perhaps 30% bigger than an equivalent
Still, they’d be faster to charge, cheaper
to make, and wouldn’t have the risk of catching
fire since they’d be mostly water.
They could also have applications outside
of cars, like storing energy for when it’s
in high demand, or when renewable sources
aren’t generating electricity.
For now regular old chemical batteries are
still the best fit for electric cars.
But if this is the breakthrough the researchers
believe it is, batteries could be on their
way out in the next decade.
In a weird way, soft contact lenses may help
us see a brighter future.
If you like what you see don’t forget to
Just because capacitors are improving doesn’t
mean we’re not developing new and better
batteries too.
Like a squishy battery!
You can learn more about that here!
None other than Elon Musk himself has said
that supercapacitors are the future of electric
But he also thought a tiny submarine would help… so ya know,
grain of salt and all that.
Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next
time on Seeker.

100 Replies to “How Supercapacitors Could Make Batteries a Thing of the Past”

  1. mentioning Elon Musk……………..just destroyed the credibility of your video. The guy is an expert in one thing………..leeching off government subsidies as a business model.

  2. What are batteries good at?
    Storing and releasing energy at a controlled (slower) rate.
    What's the downside?
    They have problems (eventually) if you continuously charge and discharge quickly.

    What are capacitors good at?
    Storing and releasing energy at a high (faster) rate.
    What's the downside?
    As mentioned, holding large amounts for longer periods.
    Would the ideal system combine the two?
    How about a smaller battery AND a capacitor pack to make up the difference.
    Charge the battery overnight.
    Start in the morning.
    The first time you brake, the regen charges the capacitor.
    When you accelerate, the capacitor releases its energy, the battery is only used when the capacitor is drained.
    So you have a battery doing what it does best, generally used for cruising, low load conditions, being charged, again generally, at a slow rate.
    You have a capacitor doing what it does best, charging and discharging quickly.
    You have a reduced size, cost and weight of battery, offset by that of the capacitor, so no effective change to the size or weight.
    Sounds good?

  3. Capacitors are used to help energize high power car audio systems. But they are really short-term. Pairing the two is a real world solution…

  4. Okay? 🤔 So most of us use gasoline vehicles. Would a capacitor like used for audio amplifiers the same? Or not a super capacitor??

  5. The thing with capacitors that they don't mention is that a charged capacitor has the tendency to explode when damaged because it internally shorts out and almost instantaneously dumps all of its energy. Even the current small capacitors can blow up quite violently. I can't even begin to imagine how bad it would be if a car-sized one went up like that. A simple accident in heavy traffic could potentially lead to a terrible chain reaction if this isn't taken into consideration.

  6. I have a Chinese made flashlight, runs bright LEDs powered by a capacitor, recharged on household 110 ac. Just as bright as any battery light. Has worked for years. But for some reason never saw one for sale in USA.

  7. 180Wh/l? That it? The most energy dense Li-ion battery is 265Wh/kg. Can this technology get better or 180Wh/kg is their limit?

  8. What about a hybrid system which would use capacitors to rapidly store the energy created from regenerative braking and syphon it into the battery through its charging circuit?

  9. the main problem with capacitors and supercapacitors is leaking the charge and charge density limits, I think that ALL dielectrics have been tested, maybe some new material that could hold 1 million volts without breakdown

  10. I think it is very unfair to laugh at Elon Musk and the submarine, he was offering something he honestly thought would help to save kids lives. That seems like a very decent thing to do and not something some young idiot who thinks he is smart by reporting other peoples hard work in science on youtube. Your not big or clever your an arrogant twat.

  11. thanks for posting. i write to share a simple idea that could bring some electrical power to any who want it, almost anywhere. how. by using a large-radius, ox-and-pole approach, to drive a suitable pma. or humans could do it, if the system is so designed. cheers googletranslate

  12. Did anybody have good information on how to remove generic bar battery, make empty box out of battery and fill it with capacitors and small battery?

  13. Good video on emerging tech. Heard of these before years ago, but it takes time to bring things to market. Would solve the problem we will have soon about running out of lithuim to mine for L-ion batteries.

  14. They're had this technology for years. .but alas some powerful people might lose a a few million a year in profit.the slowwwwwwwwwww way.GREED.

  15. And? There is so much more to electricity than KWh stored. What is the voltage and amperes? How long can they keep a charge? What other mats are they made of other than polymers?

  16. Nope. Not when Li+ batteries are going from 250 Wh/kg to 500 Wh/kg with lithium sulfur, and will probably see a massive power boost from the use of 'foam' batteries. Also aqueous capacitors suck. Horribly.

  17. 10W/h per kilo?!'! Dude, there are 3kF / 2.7v @ less than 50 grams for a total energy density of more than 600W/h per kilo since last winter!

  18. Batteries will never be phased out, Duracell will just buy out the capacitor invention and shelve it forever so they can keep making profit from their batteries. They've done it before buying out a ground breaking invention that was due to make traditional batteries obsolete, and they will do it again!

  19. I was about to say we would need 100+ fusion powerplants to charge the car but then i remembered u can just burry a capacitor beneath the charging stasion 🤣😂😂

  20. Can you do a video about how and Why Nicola Tesla used capacitors?

    I wonder how a graphene capacitor will compare to a thicker carbon capacitor? Surely the speed of charge/discharge will still be through the roof and also energy density would be much much higher then current capacitors

  21. no chance of this becoming a reality…if big companies dont make money from the lay man..they will kill the idea..just as many wonderful inventions in the past

  22. Great! save the lithium and cobalt for applications where weight and size really matter, like consumer electronics, and electric vehicles. This sounds like a perfect solution for grid scale electrical energy storage, where cost and longevity are a much bigger issue than size and weight. This just might be the perfect thing for behind the meter electrical storage, for home solar and wind. I would rather NOT use up lithium and cobalt, for stationary applications. As much stored energy as we need, we need all the technologies, no one will be enough. We're talking terawatts of stored energy, if we are ever to near 100% renewable electricity, because of the intermittent nature of wind and solar.

  23. If super batteries bcomes wind and renewables bcome cheap n viable ..oil companies or mafia notci they will use all their power to block such tech…even to the point of killing off the inventors in mysteriuos ways and bribiing the legal system and get away with it…it has been happening since Tesla was imprisoned in the 1800s??? for his free electricity machine concepts …..

  24. haha in a decade ? haha what type of joke you talk man? IMPOSIBLE. like compliment for battery yes but for replace them will not be possible… the battery no depending on surface jsut in reaction so will be more compact(not the same as densite)
    For electric vehicle will be good option to accelerate fast when battery can suply so much energy in so smal time.

  25. Too much researching on litium batterys, and little resarch on other battery technologi for exsample supercapacitors. With all this EU regulations for exsample BWM production of EV cars must be over 30 procent in 2025, and dont forget in 2050 there will be 100 procent sale of EV. Good luck with that

  26. wow. ya know the color blue and violet is closer to the dielectric spectrum phase shift of a magnet. So? MORE CHARGE. manipulate colored material that is closer to the dielectric phased spectrum ? More charge?..yes bitch

  27. Maybe wishful thinking, but this is not going to happen any time soon, maybe in the future with new technology. May be able to work in the short term as a power boost for short distances or when a boost in torque is needed for EVs.

  28. Superdielectrics' Jim Heathcote actually states that their polymer-based supercaps "could potentially deliver 50-500 times the energy density of lithium batteries". And that claim has been confirmed by one of Britain's foremost electrochemists Professor David FERMIN of Bristol University. What's more Rolls Royce plc have now joined forces with Superdielectrics – if that's not a vote of confidence I don't know what is.
    For full exclusive report with key quotes, video presentations and key clips etc see EVUK at:
    Paul G

  29. wait, here's wht I don't understand… capacitors discharges quickly. So I think no matter how much you can squeeze in energy in it, it will be useless for EVs and stuff like tht… making it only useful in a couple of seconds… plz anyone explain… I'm rlly confused…

  30. It may change your phone batt. but its not going to fly a plane or run a semi. Sorry we will need fossil fuels for years to come. Decades to come.

  31. I loved Elons tiny submarine idea and thought it was genius especially after I learned they drugged the survivors.

  32. ……… don't knock the tiny submarine,,he tried to help out,,,…….. Here something no-one has yet explained – -when shorting out a high voltage capacitor (and I'm talking about non electrolytic capacitors the non electrolytic ones with the plastic dielectric, be it say polyester, polycarbonate, polyethylene whatever ) in order to make it safe , ,; what is the phenomenon that gives them a new shocking charge when we touch them an hour later after they were shorted out apparently of all their charge an hour earlier.. There could be a PhD in it for a graduate. The

  33. The only thing that's in the way is economy. Since they are cheaper and have a very long lifespan, they are not going to make a lot of juicy money though. I really hope that super capacitors will become a real thing though, because they are environment friendly.
    Bonus: Some super capacitors are made out of carbon which is recyclable, cheap and safe. The traditional lithium-ion is hard to recycle, expensive and it's toxic.

  34. Where is the breakthru that will lower the price of a 12v car battery from $400 back to $50 bucks like they have always been.

  35. I’m still thinking that storing a reasonable amount of energy, basically in a form of potencial energy, is quite dangerous. The universe has shown us that matter is the best way to get energy in a stable way. Imagine, for example, if have a perfect spring. If we could store all the energy of a 200 mi travel using that spring. All that potencial energy there will extremely unstable. Like a bomb. Unsafe.

  36. We have been hearing this from Eestor, Eesha Khare and Zap & Go for years. They stated they were really close to market. They supposedly solved the problems that were stopping them from going to market.

  37. The trick is use double layer capacitor where extreme high voltage permanently store on outside layer and they induce charge with lower voltage on the inside layers that you can convert in to AC and use forever

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