Dielectric Materials for Capacitive Energy Storage

Caporus Technologies is applying patent-pending dielectric technology in the development of capacitors for power conversion systems. These dielectrics incorporate porous structures at the nanoscale to enable nature’s ultimate insulator, vacuum, to operate at levels beyond the limits of conventional dielectrics. Caporus’ technology provides performance improvements in energy storage capacity, operating temperature, and stability that translate to more compact devices with higher reliability and efficiency.

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Critical need for this Technology

The world is at the beginning stages of a transition in how power is produced and consumed. Centralized power plants based on fossil fuels are now competing with distributed renewable energy sources. In transportation, electric vehicles are gaining significant market share, and drones and other electric aircraft will transform shipping, mobility, and other industries. In all of these areas, capacitors are critical to the power conversion and filtering systems that enable these growing markets.

While these new and growing applications demand capacitors with smaller size and weight, high temperature compatibility, and reliability, existing capacitor technology has reached its limits. Capacitive energy storage depends on electrical insulators (dielectrics), and the solid dielectrics of polymer or ceramic used today operate near their fundamental performance limits. With only marginal improvements possible in solid dielectric performance, capacitors have primarily been limited to manufacturing and packaging advancements. Additionally, since the dielectrics for capacitors are produced by only a small number of manufacturers, there is relatively little differentiation or innovation in materials between capacitor manufacturers.

To meet the performance metrics demanded by many emerging and growing applications, novel materials are required that can go beyond the limits of conventional solid dielectrics.

Potential CO2 Reduction

Light-duty vehicle transportation is responsible for approximately 6,000 MtCO2e of emissions annually. Electric vehicles can reduce these emissions, and they cause between 28% and 72% of the emissions relative to an internal combustion engine vehicle. In practice, these emissions reductions will not be realized immediately due to the time required for wide adoption of new technologies. Caporus’ technology has the potential to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by improving vehicle performance and enabling extreme fast charging systems. If Caporus’ technology accelerates electric vehicle adoption by one year compared to current predictions for electric vehicle adoption, the additional emissions reduced would average 65-125 MtCO2e per year over the next 30 years.

Competition

  • Polymer dielectric films, including polypropylene, are a common capacitor dielectric manufactured by several corporations that also produce for the plastic film market in packaging and other industries.
  • Capacitor manufacturers are more vertically integrated, producing their own dielectrics, for ceramic capacitors and nanolaminate polymer capacitors.

Potential Markets

While capacitors cover a wide range of applications with a total market of over $20 billion, the corresponding wide range of application requirements enables Caporus Technologies to narrow the initial target markets. The technology is uniquely suited to serve the medium to high voltage markets (> 500 V) that are currently served by polymer film technology with additional overlap with high voltage electrolytic and ceramic technologies.

Caporus is focused on the high performance segments of these industries that demand reliability while decreasing size/weight, increasing temperature capabilities, and maintaining stable operation over a range of conditions. These applications include motor drives in electric vehicles and industrial controls, power converters between distributed energy resources, energy storage systems, and the grid, and specialty applications for high voltage and high power systems. While the serviceable obtainable market is being determined, the market for polymer dielectric films in capacitors alone is more than $1 billion.

Key Innovation

Caporus’ dielectrics provide nanoscale porosity in a unique structure that enable nature’s ultimate insulator, vacuum, to operate at extreme electric field levels beyond the limits of conventional solid, liquid, or gas dielectrics.

Yuepeng Zhang, Argonne Primary Scientist

Yuepeng Zhang is the principal investigator working with Caporus Technologies on the project. She is a materials scientist in the Applied Materials Division at Argonne National Laboratory. She has expertise in nanomaterials synthesis and hybrid small-scale electronic devices development. Her research interests include scalable thesis of nanofibers and membranes used for solid-state batteries, fuel cell electrodes, water filtration membranes, bio and chemical sensors, and RF devices. She leads the effort on electrospinning and printed hybrid electronics.

R&D Status of Product

Since the beginning of participation in the Chain Reaction Innovations program, Caporus’ dielectric technology has progressed from its theoretical and computation foundation to demonstrated coatings and small-scale capacitors. Recent demonstration of producing the dielectrics with industry-standard equipment for mass production has prepared Caporus to produce and test full-scale capacitor prototypes. The foundational intellectual property has been examined by the USPTO and is allowed for issuance of a patent.

Team Overview

Caporus Technologies is led by its founder, Dr. Kevin O’Connor. The supporting team of Robert Visovsky, Carl Traynor, and Andy Urda provide expertise in business development, strategy, product development, marketing, and sales. Scientific and commercial advisors from Argonne National Laboratory and industry partners inform Caporus’ product and business development decisions. As the internal technical operations team is being expanded in summer 2020, Caporus’ external legal team is coordinating expansion of the intellectual property portfolio.

Technology Profile

Status: Pre-revenue – Technology and business development
Primary industry: Electrical manufacturing
Category: Energy storage; electric transportation; advanced materials

Estimated annual revenue: N/A
Employs: N/A
R&D commercial collaborator: N/A – not public