Summary:

Will ultracapacitors — energy storage devices that can deliver quick bursts of intense power and withstand more charge and discharge cycles than batteries — become a break through technology? Startup Ioxus is raising money to push its battery-assist ultracap tech.

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Ultracapacitors — energy storage devices that can deliver quick bursts of intense power and withstand more charge and discharge cycles than batteries — aren’t talked about too much in greentech circles (other than infamous EEStor). But investors seem to be keen on the technology; according to a filing, ultracapacitor maker Ioxus has raised $12 million of planned $18 million round.

Ioxus spun out of 45-year-old parent company Custom Electronics (focused on military, medical and industrial applications for ultracapacitors and “pseudo-ultracapacitors”) in 2006. The company makes ultracapacitors for devices ranging from wireless hand helds to hybrid electric vehicles.

Ultracapacitor technology is less established and the costs are higher than batteries, and much of the opportunity lies in niche markets. But to Ioxus, batteries aren’t actually in competition with ultracapacitors, they should be used in tandem.

Ioxus Chief Operating Officer Chad Hall explained to us in late 2009, “Ultracapacitors are not looking to replace batteries in the acceleration or main storage of a car – they are merely there to enhance the battery, make it last longer, and reduce the warranty issues related to replacing large batteries.”

Used in conjunction with batteries, ultracaps could also help make vehicle-to-grid technology more feasible, allowing electric cars to provide on-demand energy for the power grid without cutting battery life short explained Hall to us: “Ultracapacitors are a power component. Batteries are an energy component. Marry to two technologies together, and you have a solution that works well.”

Ioxus says on its website: “Studies have demonstrated that a simple parallel connection of an ultracapacitor to a low-cost alkaline battery can duplicate the performance characteristics of a lithium-ion battery.”

For more research on batteries and ultracapacitors check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

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