Supercapacitors Propel Rocket To The Skies

OK, so this isn’t really a rocket. In the strictest definition, rockets are vehicles or projectiles that propel themselves through jettisoning mass, usually through the combustion of fuel. But with electric motors getting stronger and stronger, folks are building craft that look a lot more like rockets than airplanes. [Tom Stanton] is one such person (Youtube link, embedded below).

We’ve seen “electric rocket” builds before, but where others have used lithium batteries, [Tom] has used supercapacitors instead. Six supercaps are installed in a 3D printed mount, and supply power to a 500 W brushless outrunner motor which gives the rocket the thrust to climb into the sky.

In testing, [Tom] estimates the rocket was able to reach an altitude of approximately 60 m, or 200 ft. That’s not particularly astounding, but it does prove that supercaps can run a high current load in a real world situation. Additionally, their fast recharge rate allows [Tom] to make a repeat flights in just about the time it takes to repack the parachute. Video after the break.


33 thoughts on “Supercapacitors Propel Rocket To The Skies

    1. Using a folding prop could probably mitigate that, but as long as the parachute is reliable, it shouldn’t be much of an issue.

      Just watched Tom’s video last week, it’s really cool. I love the whine of the prop as it’s flying. It’s definitely on my list of things to make for my son. Last night, we launched a few of his Estes rockets and, as usual, one ended up in a tree. A rocket that doesn’t go quite so high would be great, and one that’s easy/quick and cheap to recharge would be awesome!

      1. A rocket that doesn’t go high is a toy
        You defeat purpose of a rocket
        Quick and easy that depends on your skils πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
        buy a brick a watch it on the floor πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
        super caps not cheap neither is the project .
        Water bottle rockets more fun
        or just buy cheap drone with 5 batteries ya son will love it ….I had one from wish app good fun in fields πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

      1. Wndering, would it be possible to adjust the supercapacitor’s chemical composition so it could not only hold a charge, but would also be an explosive?

        That would be a perfect missile capable of delivering an explosive of about 90% of its total starting mass. No missile is capable of it as far as I know.

    1. Mount a large value fully charged electrolytic to the nose as a warhead. Say something like 4F 400V or so maybe larger or banked. Hmm. The mad genius in me. Spot welding from 100 yards.
      If someone shouts catch, either think fast or don’t.

  1. I’ve wondered about using capacitors in an EV, to sit between the battery pack and the motor. Want rapid acceleration? Charge up the capacitors first, then dump them. Want to prevent wear and tear on the battery pack? Have the regenerative braking dump into the capacitors first, then use it to sort of even out the charge going back into the battery pack.

    That rocket is a pretty interesting use of capacitors, though. I always think of them of dumping their current almost instantaneously (like the classic videos of someone bridging two sides with a metal screwdriver).

    1. some of the early EV concepts used this approach to make up for the shortcomings of the battery technology of the time, but advancements in battery technology mean that it is better to use the cost/space/weight of the capacitors for more battery. The only application I know of that still uses ultracapacitors integrated into their architecture are some of the older ‘hybrid’ buses that have had regenerative braking retrofitted to the internal combustion engines. Due to the incredible power requirements required for stopping/starting a loaded bus and constant stopping/starting that buses deal with the supercapacitor design came out ahead.

    2. Why do you think Elon Musk has just bought world’s biggest Super cap company
      These guys know all the tricks we most probably don’t even need batteries remember once the car picks up inertia it starts producing its own energy the wheels become generators
      Makes you think that whatever we’ve been taught is an absolute fraud money making racquet so we would just need small battery pack to start up…

      1. Uhhh, no. Electric cars still consume power when they’re cruising. It’s all about a little thing called friction. Friction in the tires as the flex, friction with the air it’s passing through. Many electric vehicles DO use regenerative BRAKING, which returns some energy back to the battery, but none can just coast and generate power while they’re doing so.

      2. “once the car picks up inertia it starts producing its own energy the wheels become generators”

        I eagerly await your Nobel prize for discovering this…. oh wait, I think I hear the oil company goons knocking on your door! They’re going to bump you off like they did with Tesla! Run!

    3. “I always think of them of dumping their current almost instantaneously”
      Capacitors always dump their current in the same exponential decay curve, you just scale the time axis with resistance ;)

  2. I’d bet it would go higher without that heavy body tube and maybe finding better ways to deal with the 3D printed parts.
    I get that this is just a quick 1-off demonstration but even just looking at model rocketry supplies might have given him something better than that PVC pipe body.

    The lighter weight might be easier on the parachute system too.

  3. Not that there is anything wrong with your design. But, I would have put the weight on the bottom as you are dragging the rocket up with a propeller. I would likely be able to have a more vertical take-off. Like a pendulum. :)

  4. Omg ya all having a laugh its helicopter rocket no tail rotor for stability and direction πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ theres cheaper toys that can fly for 5min not 5 seconds not to mention ya need a collection of props πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ just make water bottle rockets saves time πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  5. Terre there’s a little thing they call ‘thermodynamics’ mate, that comment seemed a little bit ill informed. I’m guessing you’re one of those Greenie’s? Lol…

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