TEEMP, a company of ROTEC holding, is a leading developer and manufacturer of highly efficient solutions based on supercapacitors with an in-house patented design. Sergey Ageev, TEEMP’s Commercial Director, on supercapacitors, the components of the company's success and prospects for development.
Today TEEMP is not just a small manufacturer of supercapacitors, but a company with full-scale industrial production which designs and manufactures solutions for end users based on in-house supercapacitors.
– What is the significant difference between supercapacitors and batteries?
– In principle, supercapacitors and batteries do the same thing – they accumulate electrical energy and then release it as a load. But this is only at first glance. In batteries, this process takes place due to oxidation and reduction reactions, whereas in supercapacitors there are no such processes. They store energy in the form of a layer of ions attached to the surface of the electrode. This is what makes supercapacitors very durable. All endurance tests show that after 1 million charge cycles, our cells lose an insignificant part of their capacity, only about 10 %, which matches the performance of supercapacitors from the world’s leading manufacturers.
The energy density in batteries is much higher than in supercapacitors, but they have lower power density.
What does this mean? It means that a supercapacitor is designed for rapid accumulation and pulsed energy output, while a battery is intended for quiet and lengthy accumulation and low-power energy output.
ON IN-HOUSE TECHNOLOGIES AND THEIR APPLICATION
– Our cell and module design, as well as our production technology, are entirely Russian developments; the result of cooperation with leading research centers. The TEEMP R&D Center is working in cooperation with the National Research Technological University of Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, and also with the Institute of High Temperatures and Moscow State University.
This co-operation has resulted in highly specific characteristics in the supercapacitor cells and modules: efficiency of over 98 %, the ability to withstand short-circuit currents at 10,000 Amperes without failure, a wide range of operating temperatures (–60 °C ... +85 °C) depending on the electrolyte used in the devices. In fact, –65 °C is a record in its own way, since no company in the world has made supercapacitors able to operate at such low temperatures. It is important to note that these are not laboratory samples, but serial products delivered to customers in Russia and abroad.
Moreover, our unique supercapacitor design and the technological flexibility of our production chains make it possible to quickly reorient the existing enterprise from the production of laminated supercapacitors to the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries (prismatic, in a laminated body) or combined energy storage devices (LIB + SC) with minimal financial costs for design and production preparation.
– Your technology can be used at low temperatures. Nowadays, the development of the Arctic region is of paramount priority, because a great number of hydrocarbon deposits have been discovered there. How are such devices useful to mining companies?
– The ways of using supercapacitors are determined by their key properties: the ability to work at incredibly low temperatures, a long service life, and the ability to output high currents. We develop specific solutions and devices based on this logic.
Ensuring guaranteed launches of technological transport engines and power units; improving the quality of power supplies to facilities with a continuous technological cycle; maintaining the smooth operation of variable frequency drives; and ensuring a guaranteed response from emergency circuits in critical situations at network facilities are the main tasks set for us by oil and gas companies and oilfield service companies.
And in each specific direction we offer solutions with supercapacitor modules.
– Regarding launching technological transport engines. What are the benefits of applying supercapacitor-based solutions for an enterprise?
– The main purpose of using these systems is to ensure the guaranteed launching of equipment and to eventually reduce operating costs throughout the entire life cycle of the machines. And this, in fact, means saving money for owners of machinery.
With the help of our launching systems, we make the machine launch independently of the power supply from the on-board system and on additional equipment installed on the transport. This is important, because tracking and communication systems work continuously, that is, they are continuously powered by the on-board battery, which leads to battery discharge and the inability to start the car within the given timeframe. The system fully takes on the startup load and ensures battery-friendly operation, thereby increasing battery life and reducing operating costs.
If we take into account the authorities that ensure the safety of urban infrastructure and people, then these systems become an indispensable solution to ensure high mobilization readiness of transport. A prompt response is critical for agencies like the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Emergencies, ambulances and gas services.
For example, in Mosgaz JSC, first-response vehicles are equipped with our guaranteed start-up system. The vehicle goes on calls 24 hours a day and there are no complaints about our systems.
And in Novy Urengoy I personally started the Caterpillar 587R pipe-layer with its almost 500 h.p. and a 15.2-liter turbocharged diesel engine. It was in the open fields and stood idle for at least 2 weeks. The temperature was close to –20 °C and the wind sometimes took it down to –25 °C. I started it on the first try in 1.5 seconds. It should be noted that the pipe layer was not warmed up in advance and the battery compartment was turned off at the time of startup for the fairness of the tests.
RUSSIAN SUPERCAPACITORS BY TEEMP ARE INSTALLED IN “UAZ PATRIOT” OFF-ROAD PATROL VEHICLES
– TEEMP commercially supplies supercapacitor-based starter systems for Patriot (3163) patrol vehicles which are manufactured by UAZ for the needs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.
Patriot off-road patrol vehicles are equipped with a lot of additional equipment and often operate at low temperatures, which makes it difficult to start the vehicle when it has been parked outside. The supercapacitor-based starter system by TEEMP is capable of supplying high-power current and is therefore an ideal solution for starting an internal combustion engine in the cold season.
SUPERCAPACITORS FOR RUSSIAN RAILWAYS
– A reliable start-up for diesel locomotives is an equally difficult task. There are now more than 10,000 trains of this type in the country. It is no surprise that Transmashholding Corporation, which supplies start-stop systems which use our supercapacitors to Russian Railways, was our first customer.
The point is that diesel locomotive engines do not cut out at temperatures below +15 °C! Firstly, there is no guarantee that it will start again, and secondly, every engine start shortens the battery life. By installing a supercapacitor module in the battery compartment, we achieved an interesting effect: the size of the accumulator on board the locomotive decreased, it became lighter, and more free space appeared in the technical area. Given that the supercapacitor module is capable of starting the engine at any temperature, operating experience shows that the use of a start-stop system reduces fuel consumption during the warmup of a locomotive by 20 %, and when idle it is lowered by 60–80 %.
In absolute terms, diesel fuel consumption is reduced by 9 tons per year. The total reduction in fuel consumption due to the use of a start-stop system based on TEEMP supercapacitors in 2018 has reached 2,700 tons or 40 railway diesel tanks! Because we are
The solution developed by AVP Technology is an extremely efficient and is a low-cost way of saving rolling stock fuel, which, of course, increases the overall economic efficiency of its use in any climate zone.
– Is your technology used in other types of transport?
– For example, in regional aviation, the imperfections of existing accumulators also leads to significant excess fuel consumption. The charge of a standard lead-acid battery from the legendary An-2 airplane is enough for a single engine start. The battery is fully charged after 40 minutes of flight, while the plane can complete a local flight in 15–20 minutes.
For the remaining time, the airplane’s engine is simply not switched off – if the airfield is not equipped with the necessary infrastructure. This leads to additional consumption of expensive fuel, engine wear, and increased transportation costs. The supercapacitor module can be charged in 6 minutes. The difference and advantages are plain to see.
– These are all quite traditional types of transport. What about electric vehicles, which are in fashion today?
– Supercapacitors are now effectively used in hybrid designs, where an internal combustion engine is combined with a generator and an accumulator. The electric drive works at low speeds. It enables acceleration up to 50–60 km/h, then the internal combustion engine kicks in. When braking, kinetic energy is recuperated and returned to the battery. This provides significant fuel savings and reduces emissions many-fold. However, due to the continuous charge cycles, onboard batteries degrade relatively quickly, in 2–3 years, and become unusable.
Supercapacitor modules in “hybrids” work for up to 10 years and, unlike batteries, do not need thermostatic control. In other words, a supercapacitor is the best solution for hybrid vehicles.
For example, in Minsk, together with the Belkommunmash Company, we put a hybrid bus with our supercapacitors into trial operation. This will allow us to confirm their advantages in practice.
– It seems that supercapacitors have already found a use for themselves in transport. What about electric mains and voltage slumps?
– Yes, starting equipment is not the only way to use supercapacitors. A supercapacitor is capable of providing an instant output of the stored charge, that is, of quickly responding to the need for energy.
If we talk about voltage slumps and about energy in general, then the range of application of solutions with supercapacitors is very wide. They are in demand at both power system facilities and industrial enterprises. For example, according to GOST R 54149-2010, the normal range of voltage fluctuations in our power system networks is +/- 10 % of the nominal level. However, the high-tech equipment used at the facilities can have a maximum permitted voltage variation of only +/- 5 %. This means that with a deeper voltage slump, the equipment will malfunction, and everything being processed at that time will have to be rejected. And these are direct losses of the enterprise.
What is most interesting is that the majority of voltage slumps do not last for longer than 5 seconds, which is a characteristic time for the functioning of supercapacitors. Existing battery-based solutions can cope with this challenge, but they always have more power than required. The reason is to be found in the battery’s optimal mode, i.e. supplying energy with low currents, which results in increased number of batteries in the cabinet. In addition, they need a special room with climate control and an air extraction system, which is not required for the operation of supercapacitors.
However, we should not forget that there are tasks which require equipment to be powered for dozens of minutes. And these are the cases where we will use solutions with two types of energy sources: AB + SC. A short-term voltage slump could be levelled out by supercapacitors, while batteries can cope with longer slumps.
Let me give an example: mining companies use pump systems to maintain reservoir pressure, and the reservoir recovery rate is largely dependent on the operational stability of these systems. Starting up powerful pumps is often associated with a significant voltage slump. Therefore, there are many relatively accessible technical means to compensate for the slumps. In particular, these include frequency converters and soft starters. But one of the best solutions is the use of supercapacitor-based slump compensation systems. They are durable, since they do not have mechanical components and accessories, and they work smoothly in the most severe climatic conditions, therefore they can compete with the solutions that are common today.
TEEMP STARTING SYSTEMS ENSURE A RELIABLE POWER SUPPLY TO THE CAPITAL’S CIVIL DEFENSE FACILITIES
– TEEMP has modernized the alternative power supply source system of the defense structure (bomb shelter) located in the building of the central office of Mosgaz JSC. The heart of the structure – the diesel generator unit – was equipped with the latest TEMPStart™ starting system based on domestic supercapacitors.
Thanks to the highest reliability of starting systems developed by TEEMP specifically for critical infrastructure facilities, power generating equipment is guaranteed to start in all emergency situations and weather conditions. The TEMPStart™ system, which does not require thorough and expensive maintenance, can be successfully used in generating units with a capacity from 15 kW to 3.2 MW and ensures at least 100,000 successful starts over 15 years. This is necessary for the technical re-equipment of the bomb shelter infrastructure with modern equipment.
The purpose of the defense structures managed by the Ministry of Emergencies today is to protect against a wide range of hazards, from extreme weather conditions to the effects of industrial accidents, which even the most high-tech cities are not immune from.
– Speaking about alternative energy is trendy and relevant today. Is there room for supercapacitors in the field of renewable energy?
– Yes, they are used in wind power engineering to change the blade tilt when exposed to wind gusts. A high blade rotation speed is very important, otherwise the wind can simply break the blades of the installation. In solar power engineering, supercapacitors serve as buffer storage devices to smooth out activity peaks and dips. The unevenness of sunlight during cloudy weather means that the active capacity of modules far away from one another differs. If such a fluctuations are connected the grid, it causes malfunctions and can lead to equipment failure. Accumulators add energy where there is a dip and reduce it where there is a peak.
Today TEEMP is one of the few companies in Russia that serially manufactures power sources with genuinely excellent, world-class characteristics. “Serially” is a key word. Amazing things can be invented in laboratories, but it is much more difficult to launch them in industrial production, and most importantly, to make them economically efficient.
– What are your specialists currently working on?
– We are actively working on the creation of new electrode structures and electrolytes. Our goal is to create a hybrid accumulator that combines the characteristics of a good battery and a supercapacitor. The energy density in such an accumulator should exceed 100 W/h per kilogram, and the power density should be more than 120 kW per kilogram. This is the main goal for our R&D center.
Taking a development to mass production is a complicated and lengthy process. When we talk about investments in R&D, we mean every stage, from the creation of a laboratory prototype to the moment production begins.
200,000 supercapacitor cells per year is the capacity of TEEMP today. 1 million cells per year is the planned increase in overall production for 2020–2021. Today, we are the only Russian manufacturer of supercapacitors with organic electrolytes and we successfully compete with global manufacturers of similar products. This is a rare example of successful cooperation between a company’s team and our country’s scientific centers.