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Supercapacitor Back-up Uninterruptible Power Supplies

Supercap UPS

SuperCaps (also known as ultracapacitors or electric double-layer capacitors) provide an alternative source of DC power to traditional rechargeable batteries. Supercapacitors are high density energy storage devices with a capacitance (energy density) of up to 10,000 times that of conventional electrolytic capacitors.

Compared to traditional sealed lead acid batteries, their energy density is approximately 10% but their power density is typically up to 100 times greater. Power density is defined as a measure of the energy density multiplied by the speed at which the energy can be delivered. The greater the power density the shorter the charge-discharge cycle times and the greater the ability for numerous charge-discharge cycles.

SuperCap UPS systems use supercapacitors in place of traditional sealed lead acid batteries to provide back-up and protection from short-duration mains power problems.

As with traditional battery back-up the amount of runtime available from the UPS is dependent upon the load size and can run from several seconds to minutes in duration. A SuperCap uninterruptible power supply will provide sufficient time for the start-up of a standby power generator. When the generator provides a steady supply of AC voltage to the UPS, the SuperCaps are recharged.

To run SuperCaps with an uninterruptible power system requires changes to both the electronics and firmware controls inside the UPS in order to manage the charge-discharge cycles and optimise their operating life which can run up to a million cycles.

SuperCapacitor UPS System Advantages

  • Short duration runtime critical applications
  • Compact foot print and power density
  • High working ambient temperatures
  • ECO friendly low environmental impact
  • High energy efficiency and low running costs
  • Lower Total Cost of Ownershp (TCO)

SuperCap UPS are ideal for critical power applications where the loads are sensitive to short duration breaks in mains power. With up to 87% of mains power breaks lasting less than 1 second, SuperCap UPS can provide a more eco-friendly and energy efficient source of uninterruptible power than a battery enabled UPS system.

A SuperCap UPS system typically incorporates the supercapacitors within the UPS cabinet itself, in place of the traditional battery set or in an external but connected cabinet. The UPS can provide a smaller footprint and power density design than a battery backed-up UPS.

UPS electronics can typically work up to 35-40degrees Centrigrade without derating or degradation in performance. When fitted with sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries this is reduced to an optimum range of 20-25degrees Centrigade – the recommended temperature range for an SLA battery to reach its design life. For SLA batteries, battery life starts to dramatically fall above 30% dropping by 20-40% or more. Supercapacitors are not as sensitive to ambient temperature, allowing Supercapacitor UPS operate in harsher ambient environments and can lower cooling thresholds within data centres, server rooms and racks.

SuperCaps potentially have an infinite working life span and require less frequent maintenance replacement than traditional batteries that can be within years 3-4 (or 7-8) for a five year (or ten year) design life battery set. They remove the need for additional battery monitoring and management systems and have lower overall replacement and recycling costs (up to 80%).

In terms of running costs, the supercap recharge almost instantaneously compared to the time it can take to recharge a traditional battery set through the UPS rectifier or external battery charger. This reduces the Capex spend on the initial system and the Opex in terms of electrical running costs.

With a predicted million-life-cycles life span, SuperCap UPS can also provide a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and environmental impact than traditional uninterruptible power supplies.

SuperCapacitor UPS are therefore ideal for IT, data centre, electro-medical, transportation and industrial applications to cover generator start-up times and ride through capabilities for short duration breaks in mains power. Once started the generator provides the runtime required for a long duration period of support to allow data centre mirroring or system shutdown.

Supercap System Delivery and Installation

Systems are typically available as special build runs from 1kVA to 200kVA with larger sizes available dependent upon the UPS manufacturer. Lead times can vary as these are ‘built-to-order’ products with a typical delivery timescale of 4 weeks.

There are no special requirements in terms of electrical installation. UPS maintenance plans should replace battery inspection with inspection of the super capacitors themselves.

For more information or pricing on our Supercap enabled uninterruptible power supplies please call our Power Projects team on 0800 612 7388, complete an enquiry form form or email us for further information.