The market for supercapacitors will more than double to $836 million in 2018, up from $466 million in 2013, according to Lux Research. An emerging energy storage solution that bridges the gap between conventional capacitors and rechargeable batteries, supercapacitors will grow based mainly on adoption in transportation applications like hybrid buses and micro-hybrids. Consumer electronics and wind turbines make up the other significant opportunities.
"Supercapacitors have long gained attention as disruptive devices, and they're now starting to realize their potential in transportation -- though their adoption in consumer electronics has been limited," said Cosmin Laslau, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, "Power Play: Supercapacitor Innovation for Growth in Transportation and Electronics." "To reach the technology's full commercial potential, innovations in electrode materials are needed to drive down cost and improve performance," he added.
Lux Research analysts examined the current applications where supercapacitors have strong value, and the outlook for materials, cell, and system performance and cost improvements that may enable bigger and better opportunities down the road. Among their findings:
Cell prices will steadily decline. Materials innovation will lead to a 15% fall in cell prices -- from $0.0096/F today to $0.0082/F in 2018, thanks to incremental performance improvements and manufacturing efficiency gains. High-voltage operation at 3.5 V instead of 2.7 V could lower cell prices another 40%.
Graphene and nanostructured carbons offer higher capacity. The key material inside supercapacitors is active carbon, with the standard grade today providing capacitance of 100 F/g and costing around $28/kg. However, developers are pursuing higher capacity materials like graphene and nanostructured carbon.
Value proposition is weak in consumer electronics. Start-ups like Cap-XX, Paper Battery and Graphenix Development are trying to pair a supercapacitor with a battery in order to optimize power use in consumer electronics. But supercapacitors do not yet present a strong value proposition in most applications, and the market will be just $160 million in 2018.
The report, titled "Power Play: Supercapacitor Innovation for Growth in Transportation and Electronics," is part of the Lux Research Mobile Energy Intelligence service.
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