Understanding Supercapacitors: Types, Working & Applications Explained

Understanding Supercapacitors: Types, Working & Applications Explained

The term super gets added to numerous other terms. As soon as you hear or read super, you know it will be superior. One term with super as its prefix in the electrical world is supercapacitor. So, what is a supercapacitor? Continue reading this post if you are unable to answer this question. This blog will answer this question and unveil several other things about supercapacitors. So, start reading below to delve into the specifics of supercapacitors. 

What is a Supercapacitor?

Also known as an ultracapacitor or Electrical Double-Layer Capacitor (EDLC), supercapacitors possess a very high capacitance value compared to other regular capacitors. These high-capacitance capacitors have low voltage limits. A major reason for choosing these capacitors over regular ones is that they feature higher power density. Supercapacitors are safe and easy to use, and they consume less power.

Working Principle of Supercapacitor

A supercapacitor works by storing electrical energy. It stores electrical energy between two electrostatic double layers created by forming thin charge layers on the interface of the electrolyte-electrode. To understand the working principle of a supercapacitor, you must know that a capacitor’s capacitance value is always proportional to its conduction plates’ surface area. The capacitance value in the case of supercapacitors is very high. Hence, it stores a high charge value. Also, the capacitance magnitude is inversely proportional to the distance between plates. This distance is significantly shorter in supercapacitors, leading to high capacitance magnitude. 

Supercapacitors have their metal plates covered with porous material or nanomaterial in the form of typical carbon or activated charcoal. Static electricity is used in these capacitors to store energy. These capacitors produce positive and negative charge ions between the two plates in the electrolyte solution. This is because in the presence of a voltage supply, one plate develops a positive charge, and the other develops a negative charge. As a result, the negative ions get attracted to the positively charged plate, and the positive ions get attracted to the negatively charged plate. It eventually leads to a thin coating of ions deposited on the inner surface of the plates. 

The deposition of ions on the plated results in the production of an electrostatic double layer. This layer is similar to the one connecting capacitors in series. The distance between both these capacitors is very thin. As a result, each charge possesses high capacitance, and the area of electrodes is high.

Types of Supercapacitor

Following are the three types of supercapacitor. 

Electrostatic Double Layer Capacitors

The first type of supercapacitors are the electrostatic double layer capacitors. These supercapacitors consist of a separator, an electrolyte and two electrodes. The electrolyte is a mixture containing negative and positive ions dissolved in water. A separator separates the two electrodes of these capacitors. They have carbon electrodes or derivatives with a relatively high electrostatic double-layer capacitance. Compared to conventional capacitors, the separation of charge in these capacitors is less and ranges from 0.3 to 0.8 nm. 

Pseudo Capacitors

Pseudo-capacitors refer to electromechanical pseudo-capacitors. These supercapacitors use conducting polymer or metal oxide electrodes with high electrochemical pseudocapacitance. Pseudo capacitors store electrical energy by transferring electron charge between electrolyte and electrode, which is done by a redox reaction. 

Hybrid Capacitors

Another type of supercapacitor is the hybrid capacitor. These capacitors incorporate the techniques of pseudo and double-layer capacitors. They have electrodes with differing characteristics. Hybrid capacitors have one electrode capable of displaying electrostatic capacitance and the other with electrochemical capacitance. Lithium-ion capacitors are a typical example of these kinds of capacitors. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Supercapacitors


  • Supercapacitors have a high energy storage capacity compared to batteries and electrolyte capacitors. This is because they use activated carbon material that increases their capacitance value. 
  • The shelf life of supercapacitors is longer than batteries. This is because batteries degrade early due to energy storage and its release via a chemical reaction inside electrode material. 
  • Supercapacitors can provide large power bursts and high power density for short periods. 
  • These capacitors take a short time to recharge and supply frequent high-power demand peaks.


  • The self-discharge rates of supercapacitors are high. 
  • They have low voltage limits that require serial connections to produce high voltage.
  • These capacitors have the highest dielectric absorption of any type of capacitor. 
  • The linear voltage discharge makes it impossible to use the entire energy spectrum.

Applications of Supercapacitors

Due to their high storage capability, supercapacitors are used in different fields. Some of the most significant applications of supercapacitors are as follows. 

  • The field of transportation significantly uses these capacitors. A significant application of supercapacitors in this field is seen in hybrid buses, combining with batteries to enhance battery life and reduce the size. 
  • Tablets, laptops, smartphones and other memory devices are developed using supercapacitors. They are also used in LED Flash units. 
  • Supercapacitors are also used in the field of renewable energy. They are used to supply power to pitch control of clades in the wind energy. 
  • Supercapacitors are rapidly being used in the area of energy-efficient services. 
  • They are also used in the automotive industry to provide stored energy to vehicles in a few seconds. 
  • They are also used in fields like transportation, industry, medicine, music and the military. 

Difference Between Capacitor and Supercapacitor

Differentiating Factor



Working Principle

Stores charge electrically

Stores charge electrostatically

Dielectric Material

Air, ceramic, plastic film

Metal oxides, carbon aerogel, activated carbon


Few Farads

Thousands of Farads

Energy Density

<1 Wh/kg

5-10 Wh/kg

Power Density

~100 W/kg

~10 kW/kg

Charge Time

Seconds to Hours


Discharge Time

Seconds to Hours



To Wrap Up

Supercapacitors are a boon for industries with high capacitance needs. The different types of supercapacitor have varying applications in various industries. If your sector also uses supercapacitors, buy only the best quality ones for high functionality. It is where you will come across Schneider eShop, which brings supercapacitors to your doorstep. So, shop online to relish high durability, functionality and convenience all at the same time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Long Do Supercapacitors Last?

Ans: Supercapacitors have a long lifespan. They typically exceed one million charge and discharge cycles. The long lifespan of these devices is because of the electrostatic nature of their energy storage that does not lead to degradation due to absence of chemical changes. 

Q2. Are Supercapacitors Safe to Use?

Ans: Yes, supercapacitors are safe to use due to their robust design. Also, they lack hazardous materials. These devices do not suffer from thermal runaway, which is a significant issue in lithium-ion batteries. This lowers the risks of fire and explosion in supercapacitors. 

Q3. What are the Factors Affecting the Performance of a Supercapacitor?

Ans: Supercapacitors’ performance is affected by the following factors. 

  • Operating voltage
  • Temperature
  • Cycle life