Ultracapacitors could smarten the power grid

By storing sudden surges of power, a new generation of ultracapacitors could deliver the technology and capacity necessary to handle integration of irregular renewable energy sources--such as wind and sola--while keeping up with demand.

02/12/2009


According to a Technology Review article , as “green” energy sources—such as wind and solar technology—gain popularity, integrating the irregular energy while keeping power output steady will present a challenge. Ultracapacitors could help meet the challenge—storing sudden surges of power.

Austin, Texas-based Graphene Energy has created ultracapacitors that features electrodes made of grapheme—sheets of carbon no thicker than a single atom. The technology reportedly greatly increases the surface area of the electrodes, which increases the ultracapacitor’s capacity.
In the current market, ultracapacitors largely can't match the energy density of batteries; as a result, they're mostly used in hybrid systems alongside batteries or for niche applications. Graphene Energy’s enhanced ultracapacitors could be used to regulate surges in the electrical grid or to power hybrid transportation vehicles.





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