Supercapacitors (SCs), also known as ultracapacitors and electric double-layer capacitors, are finding use in a variety of power management applications. In automotive applications such as start-stop systems with regenerative braking, SCs can provide the energy needed to engage the starter to restart the combustion engine as well as accept the kinetic energy recovered during braking.
Supercapacitors are advantageous because they can be charged and discharged significantly more times than traditional lead-acid batteries, and can also absorb energy more rapidly without degrading their expected lifetime. These capabilities also make SCs attractive for industrial backup power supply systems, quick-recharge cordless power tools and remote sensors where the frequent replacement of batteries isn’t practical.
This article addresses the challenges related to charging these large capacitors, and shows power system designers how to evaluate and select the best system configuration for backup energy storage. An SC charger solution is demonstrated, with waveforms and detailed interpretations presented.
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