Supercapacitors: Fundamentals and Applications

Krunal A. Shah


Hybrid Bus in Mumbai, India

Figure 5. Hybrid Bus in Mumbai, India

In Shanghai, buses are running on supercapacitors as a lone power supply (it is recharged every third stop in 1-2 min with the help of regenerative energy being produced by braking). China has demonstrated to the world that this technology can be implemented on large scale. However, the technology using supercapacitor plus the battery is more advantageous in terms of overall running performance of buses.


While braking, the back emf produced by the motors is used to charge supercapacitor in an electric vehicle. Supercapacitors can charge in just a few seconds. This stored energy is used to start the engine, to power electrical system of the vehicle, and also to charge a battery used in vehicles. In India, Tata Motors has recently rolled out the first batch of Tigor EV manufactured for government-run entity EESL (Energy Efficiency Services).

Electric Vehicles using Supercapacitors

Figure 6. Electric Vehicles using Supercapacitors


The traction vehicle must undergo three different phases, acceleration phase, cruising phase (running at normal speed), and deceleration phase. During these phases, the power can be highly negative as well as positive. This variation of power creates serious issues such as supply voltage fluctuation, losses in main power supply etc.

The solution of above problem is to integrate supercapacitors as a short-term storage device with an interface dc-dc converter.

Electronic and low power applications

Supercapacitors are used in memory devices in laptops, mobile phones, radio tuners etc.
They are used where momentary power burst is required like LED flash units.

Renewable Energy

Nowadays, advance variable speed turbines are used with three blades. The blades angle is flexible and can be adjusted depending on turbine operating point and wind speed. In case of turbine or power converter failure, the blades must be driven to 90° position quickly to prevent the blades from mechanical damage. Supercapacitors are used in wind energy to provide power for blade pitch control.


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