A Comparison of Electrolytic Capacitors and Supercapacitors for Piezo-Based Energy Harvesting

Report No. ARL-TR-6518
Authors: Matthew H. Ervin, Carlos M. Pereira, John R. Miller, Ronald A. Outlaw, Jay Rastegar and Richard T. Murray
Date/Pages: July 2013; 14 pages
Abstract: Energy harvesting is being investigated as an alternative to batteries for powering various Army systems. A piezoelectric system that generates energy from the oscillation of a mass on a spring (set in motion by the launch acceleration) is being developed. Typically, this energy is stored on an electrolytic capacitor for use during flight. Here we investigate a number of electrolytic capacitors and electrochemical double layer capacitors (aka, supercapacitors) for storing this energy. Supercapacitors are of interest, as they are potentially smaller, lighter, and more reliable. Here, we have investigated capacitors of different sizes as well as fast and slow supercapacitors for storing the energy. We find that capacitors of similar size store similar amounts of energy, with a system-dependant optimum size for maximum stored energy, and that the faster capacitors charge more quickly.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: July 1, 2013