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Can capacitors in electrical circuits provide large-scale energy storage?

Posted December 3, 2014

Capacitors are widely used in electrical circuits to store small amounts of energy, but have never been used for large-scale energy storage. Now researchers from Japan have shown that the right combination of resistors and capacitors can allow electrical circuits to meet two key requirements of an energy storage device: quick charging and long-term discharging. Using capacitors as energy storage devices in circuits has potential applications for hybrid electric vehicles, backup power supplies, and alternative energy storage.

electrical circuit capacitor 1

(a) and (b) The charging/discharging curves for various resistor-capacitor combinations. (c) Three-dimensional funnel-shaped surface contour displaying energy-rich discharging after complete charging. Credit: Fukuhara, et al. ©2014 AIP Publishing LLC

The researchers, Prof. Mikio Fukuhara, Tomoyuki Kuroda, and Prof. Fumihiko Hasegawa, at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, have published their paper in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters.

Developing efficient methods of electrical energy storage is a major topic of research, with a strong focus on batteries, fuel cells, and electric double-layer capacitors (EDLCs) when not incorporated in circuits. So far, no research has been performed on the use of capacitors or supercapacitors as energy storage devices in circuits.

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