Super capacitors development is increasing rapidly, but there seems little discussion about using them in sailboat applications.
A little like lithium, I think the best value is going to come from people who are prepared to design there own system, but there are already some promising commercial
systems on the market.
Avrio has released a 3.55 kilowatt-hour super capacitor “battery” (this is about 270 AHr @12v) for about $4000. That sounds expensive, but 100% of the capacity is usable. The “battery” can be left at any SOC without any effect on cycle life. 0% or 100%, it makes no difference to the life. The cycle life is virtually unlimited. The Super capacitors do deteriorate slightly with age, but they are predicting a 45 year life. They have very high efficiency. They can be charged or discharged at any rate that could be generated by a yacht.
There is a lot to like, undoubtably there is some marketing
hype in the claims, but the fundamental properties of super capacitors are very different to conventional batteries
of any chemistry.
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Problems include more self discharge if you are leaving the boat
for weeks without a charging
source, but of course they can be run completely flat and left there for extended periods without any effect. Finally, the only model on offer currently is 48v, but you can make your own Super Capacity battery
, given their robust nature, system design is arguably easier than lithium.
Personally I am happy with simple, proven lead acid batteries
, but I admire those on the bleeding edge. Super capacitors offer all the advantages of lithium without any concerns of destroying (or even effecting) the battery
with over or undercharging.
As well as a stand alone system, the super capacitors can be combined with conventional batteries to create a hybrid system.