A Lithium Ion Supercapacitor Battery

lioncap Lithium ion supercapacitors. No, not lithium ion batteries, and yes, they’re a real thing. While they’re astonishingly expensive per Farad, they are extremely small and used as the first line of defense in some seriously expensive heavy-duty UPS installations. Here’s a Kickstarter using these supercaps to replace the common AA, C, and D cell batteries. Even better, they can be recharged in seconds.

For each size battery, the caps used actually have a slightly higher energy density than a similarly sized dollar store battery. By adding a little bit of circuitry to drop the 3.8 Volts out of the cap down to the 1.5 V you expect from a battery, this supercap becomes a very expensive rechargeable battery, but one that can be recharged in seconds.

This is one of those crowdfunding campaigns we really like: an interesting tool, but something we just can’t figure out what the use case would be. These lithium ion supercaps are too expensive to be practical in anything we would build (save for a Gauss pistol), but the tech is just too cool to ignore. If you have a use case for these caps in mind, please leave a note in the comments.

Somewhat relevant Mouser link.

139 thoughts on “A Lithium Ion Supercapacitor Battery

    1. I was going to say, heat would be an issue, but I would be more concerned with the heat of charging it, you wouldn’t be able to use a standard charger because the current would be higher. I like the concept but he is far from a consumer ready product.

    2. LICs just like EDLCs aren’t quite as robust to high temperatures as standard electrolytic caps, but they are still better than Li-Ion batteries which loose a lot of capacity under heat.

      The Taiyo Yuden LICs linked are rated to 65C at 3.8V and are rated for 85C if you don’t apply more than 3.5V to them.

      Just like EDLCs, LICs fail/age from two factors, voltage and heat. Each results in the electrolyte reacting with anything and everything it can (contaminants, the housing, the electrodes…). These chemical reactions result in the build up of gas which does two things: takes away surface area where the electrolyte could otherwise be touching an electrode (loss of capacitance and increase of ESR), and builds pressure. If the pressure gets too high, the pressure relief vent (the scored area on the top of the caps) will open. Since the buildup of gas is a cumulative effect, all that really matters is the average voltage and average temperature that the cap has seen over its lifetime. Higher of each and gas builds up faster.

      Now, the cold… they LOVE the cold! They last forever and you have no problems all the way down to -40C where the electrolyte freezes. If it does freeze, it’ll work just fine after it thaws out.

      All in all, they’re considerably safer than LiPo batteries. Although the LICs have a minimum voltage (about 2.2V. If you discharge it below this, you’ll permanently lose capacitance), EDLCs can be drained entirely.

      1. They have a minimum voltage!? First capacitors I ever heard of that has that. Are they really some sort of hybrid battery-cap? Does that mean they ship them charged?

        1. Yes, they’re shipped partially charged (they store best that way).

          You are correct that they are hybrid capacitor-batteries. They have both chemical and electric field energy storage mechanisms (That’s how they get their energy density!)

          Because of this, they have to be accompanied by a protection circuit so they don’t get over discharged.

  1. I want to see a full battery shown/metered, it thrown in a rig to drain it while being metered, it pulled and metered dead/closed to dead, it charged and then metered again in a single take without any funny business.

      1. Do I have any particular reason for suspecting that it is legit, other than your provocation? No call until I see the hard data showing one way or the other. Thanks.

      2. Surely you jest. Why suspect it’s not legit? Because it’s the holy grail of battery technology! Alkaline energy densities with capacitor charge times? This would change *everything*.

        1. ” This would change *everything*.”. In the event this item is advertized we have the winner for the Hackaday grand prize, a trip to space, if it has been entered. The bar to win the grand prize is set pretty high if I recall correctly. this would clear it with room to spare I’d think.

          1. They’re not making the capacitor, they’re just putting it in a battery-sized case with a circuit to convert 3.8v to 1.5v. I’ve seen a couple entries that are better. Still pretty interesting, though.

          2. It is in fact graphene. I didn’t announce it at the beginning because it would have gone crazy. There aren’t yet any graphene caps on the market yet, though, different manufacturers are making them. I found one that would change how they build a few of their caps, for me, for several hundred dollars. The batteries work exactly as advertised. Approximately 3500F. It took me a while to get it all perfected. A lot of neglecting a wife and baby. But hey, I finally got it!

          1. Of course I’m hand soldering the SOT regulator to the boards. :-P I wouldn’t spend the money to have it reflowed when it’s just a prototype. And also, the cap can’t be reflowed on to the board. If I hit the goal, everything will be reflowed except the cap.

      3. Abrasiveness aside, I agree with replic8tor. There’s a lot of voodoo in Kickstarter projects, and there’s never a reason to trust what you can easily measure.

        1. Nothing to stop them rigging the test, if it’s a scam. You’d at least hope if this is a scam, the perpetrators would have enough knowledge of electronics to be able to fake a test up.

        2. No voodoo here. Just good old fashioned, cold hard cash mixed with a little bit of new technology. I’m, in fact, not making a penny off of Kickstarter, either. The $1 and $5 donations will most likely still go towards fulfilling everyone’s pledges. That and the fact that the legal ramifications of scamming people are my reason to only deliver as advertised. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but my service in the Army made me in to a very honest, hard working and respectful person and it’s not in my nature to do anything other than the right thing.

          1. As someone who’s currently working on fulfilling a kickstarter myself, you’re in a very dangerous position. I left myself a healthy profit margin – profit isn’t evil, it’s necessary to expand, and to be able to keep stock! – and it’s still being eaten up by unexpected expenses at an alarming rate.

            I too would be keen to hear more about the regulator on your battery boards, and how you’re doing charging.

      4. Lots of reasons, mainly mathematics and the contents of the capacitor datasheet (Part number LIC1235R 3R8406).

        The capacity would be 35.6mAh, and would take at least 60 seconds to charge safely. A common NiMH rechargable battery (2500mAh) stores around 56 times more energy for $2, and can be charged at around the same rate.

        Note: The 270F version would be only 240mAh or only 10 times worse than a NiMH and take more than 7 minutes to charge and no it wouldn’t fit into an AA battery.

        Some math:
        1) An AA battery has maximum diameter of 14.5mm the capcitors in the family suggested mean the max storage that fits is 40F (12.5mm diameter x 35mm), not the 270F version (25mm diameter x 40mm).
        2) The capacity of a capacitor is 1/2(CxV^2). This capacitor has a minimum operating voltage of 2.2V, therefore capacity in J = 1/2x40x3.8^2-1/2x40x2.2V = 192J. This equals 35.6mAH at 1.5V.
        3) The max charge/discharge current is 2A, with a min voltage of 2.2V meaning max charging power @ 2.2V of 3.2W.

        1. That’s pretty much the same as I got (I got 300mAh because I assumed it’d replace a 1.2V battery rather than 1.5V). You can probably squeeze 300mAh of energy into a 2400mAh AA in a couple of minutes if you really want to, getting the same effect for a tenth of the price.

          I can make his numbers work, using some ridiculously favourable assumptions.

          (1) Assume that 1150mAh is for the D size battery.

          (2) Assume that Taiyo Yuden will decide to start making a capacitor that’s precisely the right size for the battery, 34.2mm diameter and 61.5mm long, with the same energy density as the current top-of-the-line (270F) model.

          (3) Assume that the battery has no casing; the capacitor is the case and so the capacitor can occupy the entire area.

          (4) Assume that the circuit board takes up no space in the battery housing so the capacitor can fill it completely.

          (5) Assume that there are no losses anywhere.

          (6) Assume that it delivers 0.9V, which might be valid for a NiMH battery under very heavy load.

          With this, you get a stored energy of 3729J and 1150mAh capacity at 0.9V. Actually, the numbers are suspiciously neat (energy is 3728.999J, capacity is 1150.9mAh).

          Even if the assumptions were met it wouldn’t be attractive. Who wants a D size battery that costs $50+ and stores as much power as an AAA battery? Since the assumptions won’t be met, it’s even worse.

          1. Yeah it’s madness, I’ve tried to use super capacitors of different types in our projects – including one from Taiyo Yuden (Maybe the same one), and my power supply guy is pretty much a switch-mode guru that gets every last bit of energy available. It just usually works out that a basic AA size NiMH or Lithium Ion just wins on charge time and stored available energy – even with the extra cost of protection circuits.

            These hybrids have so many conditions on charge/discharge that they are limited to low energy storage high charge-discharge cycle applications.

            I think the guy just doesn’t know his stuff that well to see these problems early on. I don’t see him as deliberately misleading. If you know just basic capacitor 1/2CV^2 and don’t really know how to find the “buts” in a datasheet I can see how he came to some of his numbers.

        2. See, this is more like what I was expecting to hear. In which case I think a more useful response would be hearing from the creator, rather than a (possibly dodgy) ‘proof’ video.

        3. that is the capacity if you discharge to 0V, if you stop at 1V you should use the delta V in your formula, so the capacity is less than this.

          So not also that half of the energy is lost in heat in the linear regulator

          1. For discharging with this setup I would think you would need to use a switch mode to get any reasonable recovery, but even they would be unlikely to top 90% efficiency. And these caps are hybrids that are limited to a minimum voltage of 2.2V, so about a third of the energy is lost.

    1. if you RTFL at the bottom of TFA, you will see that Li-Ion supercaps keep charge very well. Really, the only thing to grind the power down is the first chip that reads the voltage. which is negligible.

  2. “If you have a use case for these caps in mind, please leave a note in the comments” Surely you jest!! Electric cars of course! Don’t worry, I think the price will come down, especially once the secret gets out about how they’re made, and once the novelty of it wears off.

      1. while I agree for cars it’s a bit different because charging an AA is very different to charge multi kw batteries. they require an infrastructure that is able to provide that much energy. while that is very easily and feasible it’s not as easy as plug the AA charger everywhere.

    1. Tesla Motors is actually using this in one of their electric vehicles, I have seen the specs before but I believe they have been taken down. In any case they actually have (or had) an electric car that they boasted could be charged in sixty seconds and the specs that were posted at one time showed the bottom of the car being full of super caps.

  3. Putting this capacitor in enclosed metal tube shaped as AA is pretty unsafe because of the lake of vent, which you shall keep in mind when you perform rapid charge/discharge.

  4. I emailed Shawn West and he replied stating “The capacitor is 270F and the esr is 40 milliohms. The regular is a very efficient regulator and when there is no current draw, it pulls 15 micro amps.” Sounds about right for a buck regulator.. What I dont understand is how he is expecting to charge these things (reliably) with the MASSIVE amount of inrush current these will have

      1. Thanks, but wouldnt that mess up the whole RC time constant part where he states he can charge this cap in 26s? I mean even from starting at 1.5v the max current would be 37.5A. That seems like a major reliability issue to me.

        1. Switchable resistors? 500 ohm start, 100 ohm in 1 second, 10 ohms in 3 seconds… I’m making up numbers here, but it wouldn’t be that hard to FET-switch them out.

          Or just a constant-current driver.

    1. I would suspect a separate connection that bypasses all the internal circuitry and connects directly to the capacitor. The charger I would assume is a simple constant current charger.

    2. Checking the datasheet for the device LIC1235R3R8406 (Seems to be what he has, its availiable at mouser) the testing parameters suggest a 2A maximum charging current, so @3.8V max voltage that would equate to a charge time of 38s. But it is even worse since the minimum voltage is 2.2V so would take considerably longer. 288.8J capacity in the 40F version that fits inside a AA battery, max charging current (that falls off with charging) would be 3.2W I think – so more than 100 seconds charging time rough guess.

  5. The math just doesn’t work.
    The biggest cap from the mouser link has 270F
    That means it can store 1848J, corresponding to something like 400mAh, not 1150 as stated. That would be without the inevitable losses.

        1. Cap is 22mmx40mm, so just slightly fatter than a AA, and slightly shorter.

          So here’s what I’ve got for raw watt-hours which seems to be more fair: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=%283.8+volts%29+%5E2+*+270+farads+in+watt+hours

          1 wh isn’t great. A lithium ion AA will hold about 3.

          Depending on the drop out of the voltage regulator, it’ll stop working once the cap voltage hits ~50%-33% internal capacity, since the voltage from a cap is linearly dependent on the stored charge.

          So you’re looking at maybe 25% of the runtime of a li-on.

          The other troubling thing is mouser lists the price of the 270F cap at $46.14@100 units. The price stated for 1AA battery on his kickstarter is $25.

      1. No, I took that into account, but please verify it.
        Energy= U^2 * C /2 = 1949 J = 1949 Ws
        Converted to mWh (Factor 3.6)
        541 mWh
        At 1.5v 360mAh
        From this you need to substract the conversion and internal losses.

        Also charging this in 30s takes 64W, again without the losses, so a USB charger is out of the question.

        1. Unless you used your USB charger to charge a Li-Ion battery at the usual rate, as a buffer, and then used that battery to provide the high charge current the capacitor-battery needs. Li’s are good at very high currents.

    1. the time you would take to take it out and put in another (after you find it. those damn batteries, never in the same place) is larger than the time to plug the device into its base charger and count to 5.

      and then you have to find the charger and put the old batteries in… which you will not remember to do because you just want to get back to your thing, and then you will have 10 dead batteries at some point in time.

  6. “…slightly higher energy density than a similarly sized dollar store battery.”

    That is not impressive. At all. Those batteries (sunbeam) are lighter than a feather and last only a couple hours where brand alkalines last weeks/months..

    1. My local pound shop sells rechargables. The AAs are 300mAH, compared to 950mAH or so for AAs from a normal shop. Amazing the things they do to squeeze every last penny out of the price. Pretty crap batteries though.

      1. nothing i have that takes regular/alkalines AAA will work with rechargeables. i don’t know why. they work fine with the alkalines up to 0.8V, but the rechargeables at 1.2.. even 1.3V right when out of the charger will already trigger the low battery warning.

        it actually corrupted the memory of my receiver ‘smart’ remote.

        1. i got a bunch of energizer rechargeable nimh AA’s several years ago that had miserable voltage drop at any reasonable load. always low battery on the digital camera because charging the flash would drop the voltage down so much. capacity was reduced as a result, too.
          could be that your batteries have similar characteristics.

  7. I respect the effort, but these sentences made me a little nervous:

    “My biggest obstacle is surface mount soldering on homemade circuit board… My biggest challenge is maintaining and steady hand and limiting the coffee intake while soldering these tiny components to assure each and every battery functions as promised.”

    Though I guess a Kickstarter promising a bundle of handmade items is in some ways more realistic than one promising to launch an international company…

  8. I was thinking a 3.7V 1650 version would be useful in an electronic cigarette. Right now I have a rotation of 3 batteries, and after a few months you have to replace them because they start to get weaker.

    As for the plausibility, there is a video on youtube somewhere of a guy replacing a car battery with a bank of supercaps. Supposedly it kept enough of a charge over a weekend to start the car monday morning.

    1. Exactly my thoughts, and my setup (if you’re using efest reds in a nemy I’m calling the cops ;-) ) Charging something that’d last half a day in a few minutes would warrant buying this for vaping. Hope it works out!

      1. Actually you would be best to use both. Use the 18650 for main power, then use an ultracap to give the vape current pulse to your coils. Thu ultracap then can be charged back up by the 18650 at a lower rate. This should extend your battery life, the UC could probably do 500k discharge cycles with much lower degradation.

  9. So the news is basically just that supercaps keep getting unbelievably amazingly bigger energy densities. This guy’s just putting them into a different form-factor. That, and the jiggery-pokery with the voltage.

    I can see a lot of use for those capacitors in all sorts of projects, maybe in phones of the future, or Bluetooth earpieces. I don’t think the traditional battery market is the right place though. Half of everything’s got it’s own rechargables built in anyway nowadays. For the rest, I don’t think there’s much need for super-quick charging.

    For the applications that need the power density, the caps themselves will do the job. AA batteries are on their way out anyway, they don’t need this advance, especially for the price!

    1. I think the traditional battery market might be a good place for proof of concept. I use a lot of AA and AAA batteries. If he could tell me the useful life of the batteries would be longer then a traditional rechargeable battery(enough to offset the higher cost) I would use them. Obviously we all want to see these batteries in our cell phones and in electric cars. Imagine topping off your cell phone in five minutes.

  10. My math says his math doesn’t add up, no matter how I work it.

    First, there’s the size of the cell – a AA is .007L. One manufacturer of LiCs claims 19Wh/L, wikipedia says 19-25 Wh/L. This gives a theoretical maximum of 0.16 watt-hours, or 0.108 amp-hours. Reality is much lower, due to having two layers of case, a circuit board, etc., taking up space. For comparison, NiMH is 300 Wh/L, and Li-ion batteries up to 750 Wh/L – quite a bit higher than 19Wh/L.

    Then, there’s charging. If his claims were true, it’d need to charge at around 300A. Does his little board look like it puts out 300A? I think not. If we assume a more reasonable number – I suspect 1A, but let’s be really, really generous and say 5A – we get only .14 watt-hours in 26 seconds at 3.8 volts – or 0.091 amp hours. At my guess of 1A, you’d only end up with 0.018 amp-hours.

    A cheapo NiMH AA is 2.2 amp-hours / 3 watt-hours.

    I don’t know whether he believes his claims and honestly mis-measured or mis-calculated, or if he’s just trying to extract money from people, but in either case, I wouldn’t contribute anything to his efforts. You’re paying $25 for a battery that, if it even shows up and he doesn’t just take the money and run, stores 1/30th or less of what a $3 one does.


    1. I agree. You are not going to be able to get higher energy storage from physical one which electrical charges lining them between 2 electrodes more than chemical energy by chemical bonds. Not until someone rewrites the known science…

      I built a Supercap charger circuit for work. My initially designed one would charge a series of 350F caps (looks like D cells) at 50A with a constant power design, but I had to scale that back because the connector on the other board was only rated for 30A. At 30A, it would fully charge up the caps at around 20-30 seconds. So I do know a few things about supercaps and the complexity and size of parts to get that to work. Those Maxwell ultracaps are so much fun to play with.

      We were using these capacitors as UPS. The problem with capacitors is that their voltage would drop because of Q=CV. In order to use the full capacity supercap, you really need a few of them in series and have a very wide range buck boost converter to a much lower voltage. What we learn from that was the Supercap wasn’t worth the extra amount of electronics.

  11. Also did the math, and took into account for the entire safe voltage range of these lithium ion caps, and even the largest ones available at mouser, would work out to a max of about 360mAh of total run time. (Min voltage of 2.2, max of 3.8)

    And his AA battery form-factor, which has dimensions of 48mm length x 14mm diameter, will only fit the 40F capacitor, which had dimensions of 35mm length x 12.5mm diameter, and this capacitor only has 53mAh capacity, before inevitable losses.

  12. MRI without superconductors.
    Instead of a constant magnetic field in the Tesla range, use short pulses generated by ordinary coils and supercapacitors.
    Would need a water cooling, though.

    1. Your weak human flesh is electrically conductive. Rapidly switching that Tesla-scale field would induce unpleasant if not dangerous electric currents in the patient’s body. Beyond that, christ knows how much it would radiate; it would be like an EMP weapon.

  13. I want to know when we can buy supercapacity battery packs for ebikes, shorter recharge time and longer life would be very very welcome. All the ebike batteries I’ve had I’ve noticed their capacity diminishes fairly quickly, after a year or so the power output is noticably lower and the range feels about half, something I hope supercapacitors can turn into a distant memory.

    1. I can charge my 30km range, 6kw capable battery that cost $250 in <15 minutes and has done 2500km so far with no appreciable loss in capacity or performance. Batteries are already pretty impressive.

      1. You’ve got me curious, what type of cells and what charger etc. are you using to achieve such results?

        I got fed up with the manufacturer of my ebike charging an arm and a leg for a pack that showed noticable deterioration after 6 months, so I’m re-celling one of my older packs with LG branded 18650 cells for about £120 instead of the £320 for a brand new pack..

        Got the first 20 cells, just waiting for the last batch to arrive, they couldn’t post all 28 cells at once due to Royal Mail regulations regarding batteries.

        1. My pack is built from cheap and off the shelf 4s 5ah Lipo hard case packs from Hobbyking. Paralleled in pairs, then connected in series – a total of 10 bricks providing 72v nominal, 10ah. In practice I get 700wh from the pack. I charge using my onboard controller – an Adaptto max-e. Effectively this takes external DC voltage up to pack voltage and uses something similar to regen braking function to put energy back into the pack. I am using a 48v 3kw 240v HP server PSU for power source. These batteries will put out 100-120 amps for something like 8-9kw of power. The controller can do considerably more.

          There is considerable doom and gloom about lipo packs spontaneously combusting – my experience has been nothing but positive and I have done some destructive testing on these packs. Not particularly worried about it going up in flames. My next pack will be 18650 based, likely ~1.5kwh of Sony VTC5 cells in a 22s 20ah configuration. That should pull ~12kw without too much stress, though it will cost a lot more than lipo bricks.

  14. The only use case that I can think of where downtime is a lot of money is something like a battery pack for Red Digital Cinema Cameras. The kind used for filming the Hobbit (24 pairs RED Epics filming in 3D, 4K at 48 fps). But Red as a company has in the past sued manufacturers of third party accessories for patent infringement.

  15. If only kickstarter was around when people still played GameBoys. I suppose it would have some benefit for RC devices but the only other place I can think of that has batteries are torches and the TV remote.

    1. What about all your mobile devices and laptops? What about your car? What about all the cordless power tools? The UPS that saves your PC during a power outage? The automatic gate and garage door backup batteries? Your Tesla EV? Your pacemaker?!

      Advances in battery technology is a very very relevant field of study today. Back in the day it did not get as much attention because batteries were only good enough then for things like gameboys, remotes and torches anyway. With all the EV’s popping up and more and more important appliances and devices going cordless we are going to see more tech and science going into batteries. Whether these batteries of the future are going to be chemical storage or electrostatic storage I do not know, but what I do know is it’s going to be awesome.

  16. I like the concept, of course who wouldn’t, but here is the neat thing, you could take this into just about any device and with a difference in circuitry, custom make your own rechargeable battery packs. I have a flashlight that requires (2) 3 volt lithium cr123 cells, I can order them for about $2 per battery and they last about a month. that’s an annual cost of $48. This might save me some money if I custom made my own battery.

    Let’s see a schematic on this so we can make our own.

  17. This reminds me of an invention I thought about when I was a kid. I wanted to take tiny curved solar cells and put them in different battery-sized tubes (like the OP did) and then take those tiny glow sticks and put them inside for a power source. Of course this is before I learned about the horrible inefficiencies of solar panels. Great job on the implementation though!

    1. They, er… sort of exist! Look up beta batteries.

      When I was a kid I invented a room covered in solar panels with a light bulb in the middle. Infinite energy! And if you needed more, just make the room bigger!

      At least I was thinking about things, anyway.

  18. Supercaps have many uses of which all I know are on PCB’s when a relatively slow “pulse” of relatively high capacitance is needed repeatedly. Relative to standard capacitors, that is. High leakage current, low capacity, and high cost prevent this device from being useful as a battery replacement IMO. Maybe these could compete or find a niche sold on Digikey as product alike all the other supercapacitors, like: Digikey part#: 283-2821-ND or the other 1,000 super capacitors they sell there.

    Question…what is the internal resistance and how does it compare to standard supercaps? Most supercaps have a fairly high internal resistance which makes them useless for many applications. Lithium ion chemistry is uniquely excellent for having low internal resistance. If remarkably better I think these could be used in battery balancing applications.

    1. Most of the memory backup ones have internal resistance on the order of tens of ohms.
      Over the last 10 years or so, they have made supercap that have much lower internal resistance.
      old datasheet for some caps I have:
      PowerStor B1840-2R5506-R 50F 2.5V rated, 0.025 ohms internal resistance

      and then you get those Ultracaps which they used in transportation systems
      http://www.maxwell.com/ They have even low internal resistance and are designed for high current charge/discharge.

      They are still *capacitor* and they have discharge curve of that of a capacitor which goes linearly down all the way to 0V. Batteries tends to stay very flat all until the very end.

      No amount of improvement can change their physical property as long as they are still a capacitor. You can’t use these capacitors without a very wide range switch mode regulator. Now with the recent energy harvesting chips coming from Linear Tech and TI etc, that might help to extract the energy closer to 0V.

      Ultimately the energy storage is physical and you can’t beat energy density of a chemical bond.

  19. As far as I can tell, the charge power is pretty similar to a high-current NiMH battery. The 40F supercaps take 2A at 2.2V to 3.8V, averaging 3.2V and 6.4W. A 2500mAh NiMH AA will handle 5A at 1.2V (6W), at least for a short period (doing the whole charge cycle at that rate might hurt its useful lifespan). Energizer even sells a charger that will dump 7.5A into an AA.

    If you charge the supercaps for 30 seconds and the NiMH ones for 38 seconds (at 5A), they’ve taken the same amount of energy. You can remove them both from the chargers now and use them for the same amount of time.

    The advantage of the NiMH battery, of course (apart from cost) is that you could also leave it on the charger for longer (preferably at a lower charge rate) and store eight or nine times as much energy in it.

    1. Supercap is just like a capacitor. Basic physic/EE stuff. Q = CV where Q = current * time. Since C = capacitance which doesn’t change. As time goes on when you drain the current, its voltage drops linearly!

      See here

      A NiMH which is flat would at 1.2V until the very end when it would drop rapidly.

      So unless your device can run from *any* voltage between the *entire* range 0V – 2.5V, it would not be able to use the remaining energy stored in the cap but it would be from the battery.

      So your assertion is incorrect.

      1. The “batteries” he’s selling are constant-voltage devices. The supercap they use can only be discharged down to 2.2V (going below that causes damage), and there’s a switching regulator to drop the capacitor voltage down to a constant 1.5V. Presumably once the capacitor drops to 2.2V they cut off completely, so they’ll behave sort of like an ideal NiMH battery.

      2. but here is the reality
        Everything have losses including the switch mode supplies.

        So even when you can extract every bit of energy (which you can’t as you are limited to 2.2V), you would have extra losses of the power supply, so battery without losses would have more usable energy to power your device.

        Still your assertion is incorrect. A system with no loss would have more usable energy than one that has a loss. All you can do is to minimize the losses.

        Reality is that switch mode power supply itself takes power to operate. At very low current drain, it efficiency is bad. Take a look at any datasheet, you would find that most chips have 60-70% efficiency when it is driving very low current and then the efficiency rises as the load increase at around 1/3 rate load, then may be somewhere between 50%-70%, it efficiency peaks and finally drops again as the I^R losses from its switches and passive devices.

        1. So what happen when you try to draw a constant load from such a “battery”. When the cap was full charge, the input voltage at the SMPS would be high and at the end of the discharge cycle it would be low. You are drawing a constant power as you device is seeing a constant voltage because of the regulator. The SMPS would be operating at low current at the beginning and higher current towards the end sweeping different operating points of the efficiency curve. So you are going to see more I^R losses towards the end.
          Not going to get *same* amount of energy from this.

        2. Yes, that’s a very good point.

          I was assuming 100% efficiency, and even with that sort of ridiculously generous assumption it still doesn’t look like a good idea.

  20. Why not use them as batteries, that double has handles, for tablets? When it needs to be charged, just tap the tablet to a wall mounted inductive charger for a few seconds and quickly return to whatever you’re doing. In schools and workplaces this would reduce the headaches caused by crowded charging stations, floor mounted outlets, and having to constantly monitor them. Tap-2-Charge!


  21. The energy contained in a 1.5 volts 1150 mAh AA battery is:

    1.5 (V) * 1.15 (Ah) === 1.725 (Wh === (J / s) * h) === 1.725 * 60 * 60 === 6210 Joules

    The energy contained in a 40 Farad capacitor charged to 3.8 volts is:

    C * V * V / 2 === 40 * 3.8 * 3.8 / 2 === 288.8 Joules

    He says that the capacitor should not be allowed to drop under 2.2V, so of those 288.8 total Joules this energy can’t ever be recovered :

    C * V * V / 2 === 40 * 2.2 * 2.2 / 2 === 96.8 Joules

    So the usable energy is just 288.8 – 96.8 === 192 Joules … that is 32 times less than what he preaches!

    In addition, transferring 6210 joules in 25 seconds equals a power of:

    6210 (J) / 25 (s) === 248.4 watts

    Which @ 3 volts (averaging 2.2 .. 3.8) means a current of 248.4 / 3 === 82.8 Amps (!)

    What charger does he plan to use? Even the best chinese iPhone chargers can’t cope with that!

    I don’t get why hackaday has posted about this kickstarter.

      1. If mAh ratings of batteries can’t be used for comparisons then what can be used? Here it’s probably a good enough comparison to see that this ‘invention’ dosen’t live up to its claims by long.

  22. I dont have a clue if this may have been commented, way too lazy to read all comments, but a practical use would be any pulse circuitry with high uptimes (for instance laser cutters, when considering cuts of say less than 100mm as pulses, an incredibly loud speaker, strong electromagnetic circuitry with again relatively high uptimes)
    However i consider this a highly unpractical solution seen the fact the main idea here is it can be charged extremely quickly

    So, then all applications i mentioned above could simply be linked to a steady power source (except you could use them as a fuse then, okay). It would be funny for remote controlled vehicles, especially speedy ones like quadcopters, airplanes and helicopters. Still the charging current provides a solid problem there, along with the specific energy (being only slightly higher than normal alkaline batteries its probably not suitable for flying vehicles)

    So really i guess you could use it for applications where you get energy available very shortly though intensively, but hey, why would you want that

    1. What you’re talking about, is the capacitor itself. Our guy didn’t invent that. His idea is just to use it to replace ordinary batteries. That’s mostly what we’ve been chatting about.

  23. He claims a) the same amount of energy as a regular AA battery and b) being able to recharge it in just below 30 second.
    Which means the charger will be pumping an average 140A (!) into the battery.
    Needless to say, i’m highly skeptical that the prototypes he shows can handle that kind of current. Also, the circuitry inside the battery is never shown and might just as well be made of unobtainium.

    1. Okay in short – It wont work as he thinks or says.

      The guy has made some incorrect assumptions. The capacity is low maybe a 10th of a very cheap battery, and the safe charge/discharge rate may only be 2 amps (about the same as a NiMH). These are not typically good AA battery replacement options.

      1. I’d be very amazed if he can pull a good 2 amps from his (amateur built) buck regulator that fits on a pcb in the size of the diameter of an AA battery.

        I wouldn’t call this a scam, because a scam is pre-meditated with malicious intentions, but rather a case of someone without enough knowledge to see the problems with his device and that it never can be realised as is.

        1. Yeah scam implies some deliberate evil, this is more misguided theory.

          In the video he states he is using a linear regulator, so an amp or so might be possible breifly, although that would make a lot of heat (2.3W) and that is all loss. My math puts the energy loss when at full charge to heat at 60% coming down to 25% loss near total discharge (regardless of current), I cant be bothered doing the integral to work out whether you get even half the energy back that you store – it would be pretty close (36mAh/2=18mAh?). A 18mAh battery is pretty crappy, can get at least 1800mAh from a cheap alkaline, so would need to charge this 100 times to get the life of a disposable alkaline battery.

          1. this just doesn’t make any sense in the way that if it was possible certainly a company would already produce this type of battery and sell them. it’s a huge market. it would have insane profits.
            also this would partially solve the energy problem and the greenhouse effect. if this was true he would get a nobel prize.

    2. No, it is not a scam. It works as advertised, utilizing a capacitor, just as I said in the Kickstarter. The different between other capacitors and mine is the fact that mine contains graphene, rather than activated carbon, giving it a much larger surface area in which to store electrons. It’s a new technology and not even on the market yet, however after a lot of negotiating and several hundreds of dollars spent on just 4 capacitors, I have the end product that you see me trying to fund.

  24. Ok, I’m FINALLY getting around to actually seeing my battery on Hackaday. I’m getting a lot of skepticism on the battery and was trying my best to do without giving away the secret just yet because a lot of people are going to poop their pants when they know that it’s new technology that isn’t quite available on the open market. The capacitor has had the activated carbon electrode, replaced with a graphene substrate… Here’s the Kickstarter update I just posted.

    Ok, time to tell the secret. Hopefully this will put some of your doubts to rest. I’ve had a lot of messages from people, asking how it’s possible to fit THAT much energy. Well, the big secret is this. This capacitor isn’t even actually on the market yet and it also cost me a pretty penny to get the ones that I have. The activated carbon electrode has been replaced with a graphene substrate. The only way I’ll be able to get these batteries made for the price I’ve got the rewards set at, is if I can spend $8000 with the manufacturer. The other $2000 goes to other components and shipping. Now, the theoretical capacitance is near 3500. If, for some reason you don’t believe these claims, well, I invite you to pledge enough to get a battery and run it through your own rigorous tests. I’ve had 2 in one of my daughters toys for weeks now without recharging and it’s still going strong. Graphene capacitors haven’t yet reached the market, so, here is your chance to be one of the first.

    1. I have yet to see a charger or anything shown that can handle the full charge in “26” seconds. You show a single to220 regulator without a heatsink, which means its putting out around one amp. Others have done the math, it needs around a 300amp charger and nothing shown could handle such power levels. Care to elaborate?

    2. See before I didn’t think this was a scam, I just thought it was bad math.

      At face value, you are talking about a capacitor with 16800J of storage. To completely charge this theoretical (Mythical) capacitor in 30 seconds you would need 560W at a peak of 350A.

      I think it’s fairly reasonable to think that this is ridiculous. With the pictured (in the kickstarter video) capacitor this project was flawed and could not work as described. But there was an honestly in the bad mathematics that make it seem almost possible.

      Claiming you are using a capacitor that does not exist in the market. One which is apparently a secret that “several hundred dollars” could buy and company like Tesla motors would kill for, I think I can now say with moderate optimism this is almost as likely as inheriting millions from my long lost Nigerian uncle.

      Do you have a datasheet? Who is the manufacturer of the capacitor? Where can I buy this capacitor that I could make probable millions from? Even a circuit that shows how you can dump 500W safely into a AA sized capacitor that isn’t immersed in liquid nitrogen? Or anything else that makes this less scam and more a possible, viable, project?

  25. Looking at Shawn West Facebook page and the Group he’s in “Unity Science”, we can safely say his project is debunked , he’s one thouse “Spirit Science” Cult of Tesla people who believe real science is fake and made up voodoo is real but being supressed by the globo conglomerate system of oil or some such bullshit.
    I think the most likely thing going on here is bad math, maybe a drug addiction, religious believe in some thing and most likely he just reselling this product here http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Lithium-li-ion-rechargeable-li-ion_1289984064.html?s=p
    He says he’s a Computer “and” Electrical Engineer in the kickstarter Bio but his facebook profile says he’s a materials handler at a Aerospace company, Materials Handler means Fortlift operator not an engineer.

  26. Hey Guys, unfortunately it was a scam. The guy run away with everybodies money. there was another more “professional looking effort” called Zap & Go on indiegogo, they raised over 100,000!! 4 times as much, but still nothing from them either.

    How disapointing, you might as well just buy a super cap throw it in your satchell in an insulated tape, and step down the voltage until your happy, and out it to a phone wire you cut with a pair of scissors and taped.

    It’d be faster more efficient and cheaper. And nobody would run off with your money unless they stole your bag!


  27. I was interested in whether or not someone had looked into making a battery-sized source using supercapacitors… when I ran into this project. It’s hogwash. His site posted that he need to supply 1380 Farads. Maxwell’s 350F graphene capacitor costs $15 and is longer and thicker than a AA battery; imagine trying to pile four of them into a AA case.

    The man is a thief–or his plan is to string everyone along for the 4-5 years it will take to make the energy density high enough to support implementation.

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