Ultracapacitors: Chemical-Free, Environment-Friendly Gadget Power Sources

Ultracapacitors: Chemical-Free, Environment-Friendly Gadget Power Sources

Your smartphones, tablets, and other handy devices run on electricity from chemical-base batteries. But a new breakthrough technology will be coming out soon with devices that store electricity minus the need for chemicals that batteries need. Soon, you can just buy electronics online and in your favorite gadget stores with this chemical-free technology.


Maxwell Technologies, a company in San Diego, California, recently announced its latest electronic power storing product—the Ultracapacitor—which powerfully recharges in minutes and lasts long enough to perhaps outlive the remote control it supports, said Maxwell Technologies Spokesman Michael W. Sund. The device is just a bit tinier than the usual AAA batteries used in electronic gadgets. Soon, your remote controls won’t have to use AAA batteries to operate, and eventually, your smartphone and other like gadgets won’t either. And that’s less use of chemicals as well, which is good news to our environmentalists.

Power of Capacitors

It all started when Celadon, a remote control manufacturer for set-top boxes, asked Maxwell for a power system compatible with a remote control. The result was an Ultracapacitor. Ultracapacitor store up energy by keeping a negative or positive electric charge on plates. The plates are kept apart by an insulator.

Some engineers have been using capacitors for electric and hybrid cars. This enables them to use energy for swift acceleration. This also recaptures the energy produced when a car reduces speed. Maxwell already deals in giant capacitors used for hybrid buses. These buses require capturing energy when they stop. The same capacitors in buses likewise send energy to the wheels for moving.

How Ultracapacitors Work

However, a capacitor that is used for continuous flow of energy and which can be quickly recharged is something novel. For instance, remote controls with Ultracapacitors can recharge in just 5 minutes and operate continuously for 5 hours, even days, said Sund.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Most mobile phones, laptops, and other like gadgets use Lithium-ion batteries to operate. Electric cars also use the same. The problem with Lithium-ion batteries is that they lose storage space as they wear out with use. You find that the power capacity keeps decreasing as time goes by, no matter how long you recharge. Not capacitors. And even if you somehow fail to recharge with capacitors, it only takes a few minutes to fully charge.

The US government through its Energy Department is optimistic about capacitors and is in fact supporting some projects on it. And why not? The potential of capacitors compared with chemical battery is worlds apart. Capacitors are like pitchers that contain water as against a mere roll of paper trying to contain water. It’s easy to see how in a short time the roll of paper won’t be able to hold water anymore. But you can keep refilling pitchers with water fast and effectively.

Capacitors for Smartphones

Smartphones may soon be powered by capacitors in lieu of or as an adjunct to batteries. Maxwell reportedly is working on it and capacitors may soon be used for powering the camera flash. Imagine never again being impeded by a failing cam flash due to a weakened battery. Stronger capacitors can even power up the whole smartphone or even a laptop all by itself.

For now, Maxwell uses a thin film of carbon over an aluminum substrate for storing charged particles. However, researchers are hoping on doing a successful model using a mere single sheet or film of carbon atoms.

Bert Padilla

Founding-Editor of Cebu Tech Blogger where he shares insights in eCommerce, Digital Marketing, Ad Ops, Tech, Startups, Technopreneurship, Life Goals and Hacks. He's the brainchild and ninja of a Cebu-based digital agency, TekWorx.Digital, with ventures TekWorx, (eCommerce and Digital Marketing), AdWorx (Outsourced Ad Ops for Publishers) and BlogWorx (full-fledged Blog Development service). Read his Full Curriculum Vitae. For training and consultancy, services, speaking engagements, blog partnerships or media invites, click here. Alternatively, get in touch with him on Messenger.

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