IDTechEx Research’s brand new report, Functional Materials for Supercapacitors/Ultracapacitors/EDLC 2015-2025, forecasts that the functional materials for supercapacitors market will reach $5 billion before 2025.
The most critical and costly components of a supercapacitor are the active electrodes, electrolyte and then separator. Indeed, solid state supercapacitors in the laboratory have no separator. The structure and chemistry of electrodes/electrolytes are critical. New forms must be optimised as an electrode-electrolyte pair. Opportunities for developers of the necessary fine chemicals and new fabrication technologies are considerable. Most commercial electrodes are bulk carbon with macropores leading to micropores, i.e. “hierarchical”. Best laboratory results for improved energy density for battery replacement and time constant for electrolytic capacitor replacement are “exohedral”. This means nano structures - carbon allotropes such as graphene, carbon nanotubes and nano-onions (spheres within spheres). In addition there are aerogels with particles of a few nanometers. Graphene often wins in the laboratory but it is uncertain when or even whether it will win commercially.
IDTechEx's brand new report Functional Materials for Supercapacitors / Ultracapacitors / EDLC 2015-2025 explains the materials and performance achievements and objectives of the 80 manufacturers of supercapacitors and supercabatteries and researchers. In easily accessed form, it reveals the performance, formulation and morphology of the key materials used and those planned for the future. The report embraces work both by the device manufacturers and by the many third party developers and suppliers of the key functional materials across the world.
The structure of a supercapacitor and supercabattery is introduced together with the materials and parameters needed for the applications with the greatest business potential. Particularly focussed on the primary market need for the future - lower cost with higher energy density - the candidate families of material are assessed and progress reported and predicted. Notably, that means electrode and then electrolyte materials, with separators third in importance. For electrodes, that includes many types of graphene, carbon nanotubes, nano-onions, aerogels and chemically-derived carbons. Important for future electrolyte needs are new neutral aqueous electrolytes permitting low cost current collectors now with higher voltage, new ionic liquids that work at low temperatures and new organic solvents - less toxic and non-flammable.
For electrodes, the various hierarchical (wide to narrow pores in bulk), exohedral (large area allotropes) and thin film options are compared. They are related to various end points from micro-supercapacitors to structural ones forming part of a building, smart skin on ships or e-fibers in textiles. Emerging, there is a wealth of different needs for high added value functional materials.
The material needs of large supercapacitors appearing in electric vehicles, grid, railway and other electrical engineering applications are considered. In electric vehicles, for example, they will partly or wholly replace traction batteries. In addition they will replace inverter capacitors and be even more useful in many other EV locations including regenerative braking backup and bus door opening.