Automotive

Nawa's carbon nanotube ultra-capacitors are going into mass production

Nawa's carbon nanotube ultra-c...
Offering extreme fast charge and discharge capabilities, Nawa's ultracapacitors are going into mass production
Offering extreme fast charge and discharge capabilities, Nawa's ultracapacitors are going into mass production
View 2 Images
The Nawa team will have production running by the end of the year, and is looking to ramp up to 100,000 cells per month
1/2
The Nawa team will have production running by the end of the year, and is looking to ramp up to 100,000 cells per month
Offering extreme fast charge and discharge capabilities, Nawa's ultracapacitors are going into mass production
2/2
Offering extreme fast charge and discharge capabilities, Nawa's ultracapacitors are going into mass production

Charging almost instantly and offering massive power density, Nawa's innovative ultracapacitors are ready to make a mark across industries from automotive to power tools and aviation. And after raising more than US$10 million, this French company is going into mass production.

Nawa's ultracapacitors offer an interesting alternative (or augmentation) to lithium battery systems. When it comes to fast charging or discharging, there's simply no contest – they can pick up or pump out power at rates that absolutely demolish lithium cells, meaning that charging is next to instantaneous – we're talking sub-20 seconds for a full charge – and they're unparalleled for quick bursts of huge power.

Their energy density isn't great compared to batteries, storing maybe a quarter of the power lithium units can for a given volume, but compared to other ultracapacitors their carbon nanotube structure crams up to five times more energy in. They're useless for longer-term storage, leaking somewhere between 10-20 percent of their energy per day, but on the other hand, they last up to a million cycles and are exceptionally durable across a range of temperatures and environments that might test the limits of standard batteries, such as space, high-temp drilling or undersea.

We've covered the technology before, including an interview with Nawa's CEO and COO last year. And now, the company has announced that it's raised the capital and laid down the roadmap to get these things into mass production within the next 12 months.

The Nawa team will have production running by the end of the year, and is looking to ramp up to 100,000 cells per month
The Nawa team will have production running by the end of the year, and is looking to ramp up to 100,000 cells per month

Thanks to €9 million (US$10 million) worth of funding raised from both new and existing investors, Nawa will be putting an ultracapacitor production line into its facility in Aix-en-Provence, France, which will go into action by the end of the year and is expected to ramp up to a capacity of 100,000 cells per month. The company says the global ultracapacitor market is sitting at around €500 million (US$560 million) right now, but is projected to grow between 400-600 percent in the next five years.

Nawa will first target the manufacturing segment, where ultracapacitor-powered hand tools and automatic guided vehicles for warehouses could more or less eliminate charging downtime and offer decades of usage with no power or energy fade. There also seem to be some IoT applications ready to roll.

But we're looking forward to seeing what these things can do in transport. Supercapacitor buses are already on the road, but these compact ultracapacitors could lead to some interesting hybrid energy storage systems in which lithium batteries provide long-term and long-range energy at moderate power draws, but with ultracapacitors delivering massive power and acceleration when needed, while also capturing more energy out of regenerative braking.

Check out a video explaining the technology below.

Source: Nawa Technologies

NAWA Technologies' Ultra Fast Carbon battery: the next generation of the ultracapacitor

14 comments
physics314
Capacitors, no doubt, have their place. But that place is not in storing meaningful amounts of energy in consumer applications. Take a 1 Wh capacitor, i.e. a fraction of most cell phone batteries, as an example. To charge it in 20 s, the charger power would have to be 180W - double or triple or more than most laptop chargers. Then there's the current. Assuming a 4 V charger, the current would be a whopping 45A. To bring the current to a more reasonable 2 A, the charging voltage would have to be 90V. Sure, all that is doable, but it involves lugging around a brick of a charger, with some pretty fat wires or a high voltage output.
Rumata
Ultracapacitors are the dead end. Using similar electrode foils, lithium batteries can offer similar power densities, while still offering magnitudes higher energy densities than ultracapacitors. What's more, lithium batteries can offer similar calendar and cycle life, if they are used in similar circumstances, e.g. microcycling in a temperature stabilized environment. So there is no reason to deal with ultracapacitor development. They cannot offer any marketable advanage over the modern, high-power LiFePO, LTO or NMC cells.
paul314
It sounds as if the ultracapacitors are going to be wanted as much on the charging side as the device side. Building something that can supply high amperages continuously (a conventional charger) makes little sense if you're only going to be supplying them for a few seconds to minutes at a time.
guzmanchinky
This is incredible tech. These leaps are what will kill the gasoline engine.
notarichman
to physics314; please show us your math...not that i disagree with the amperage. to Rumata; ultracapacitors have their uses. power density versus energy density is what they are good for. example; a bus or large truck takes a lot to get moving - that is where ultracapacitors come in. after they are moving batteries excel. the capacitors can charge much quicker than batteries if the amperage is available, such as in regeneration charging downhill. no matter where capacitors are used, there will probably have to be some amperage limiting devices. these already exist. capacitors can be run in series. if an Ecar runs off 90 volt batteries; then 90/2.5 volt capacitors? = 36 capacitors in series. there would probably have to be a few more for voltage spikes and maybe some voltage limiting as well in the regeneration circuits. so how many capacitors in parallel would it take to provide the initial push for a car, truck, bus, etc.? the article i read suggested 1/4 of the energy density be from ultracapacitors and 3/4 from batteries. for buses in a large city maybe recharge circuits could be built into the pavement for quick capacitor charges at bus stops that are not located at downhill locations (regen via downhill). I'd like to see some specifications on quick charging and regeneration for ultracapacitors before making quick judgements.
ei3io
The research and development money needs to grow into H2 fuel cells which have by far the best future potential in all areas of performance in transportation this includes increasing the fueling stations.
jerryd
Lies, lies and more lies. When are people going to learn there is little future in space charge tech? Chemical charge is so, so much better even in peak power, charging/$, /lb, /cubic '. For the same cost, weight, space, li-ion beats both charge rate and output.
Veronica Roach
Since they say that this 'battery' storage is 'lost' very fast - isn't there some way to 'lose' into some medium that can hold what's lost & itself be storage for the 'lost' charge. Just my ignorant suggestion - but I do know the ignorant sometimes say things that trigger ideas in others ! After all that charge 'goes' somewhere doesn't it ?
OwkayeGo
I would love to have a set of handheld power tools based on these capacitors! The more power they can dump in a short time, the more powerful the tool will be, and that's exactly what contractors want and need -- more powerful handheld power tools. And since they can charge in a minute (while I'm getting a drink or taking a restroom break) and are rechargeable a million times, the entire tool can be manufactured as a single unit -- no more battery packs to deal with and keep charged. This of course makes manufacturing cheaper, and also makes the tool sturdier and stronger for its weight. Bottom line: these capacitors seem like the perfect solution for handheld power tools of the future.
Leithauser
I can see some very good uses. Good for leveling out energy output from intermittent power sources like wind turbines and possibly solar. Could also be a bridge to charging batteries, where you charge up the capacitor fast and then allow it to charge the battery, so you have a short wait at the charging station. Could also be useful when you need sudden burst of power from a battery, like an electric airplane taking off or sudden acceleration of a car (battery charges capacitor and power burst comes from capacitor).