Since the introduction of the conveyor belt by Henry Ford, production has become more and more streamlined and automated. Today, another trend has been added to this evolution - an increase in the number of operations within one particular machine or automatic machine.
Multi-axis CNC machines are capable of producing the most complex parts from just one blank, and industrial 3D printers do the same with metal powder. Modern industrial coating systems consist of one large conveyor - they are used in manufacturing solar panels, for example, or energy-saving glass. The most advanced microelectronic fabs are almost completely robotized - if you load raw materials at one end of the production (silicon disks, "wafers"), after a few months, processors will come out the other side almost ready for packaging. Complete robotization allows us to avoid human intervention, i.e., protect the premises from dust and other contaminants, and thus minimize the amount of rejects. Regardless of the automation tasks, the result is always the same - a reduction in the price of a particular product is accompanied by an increase in the price of an error.
“The manufacture of solar modules is a complex, multi-step process involving precise equipment. For example, vacuum deposition systems are sensitive to the power supply quality. Even a small power surge, at best, causes a failure in the hardware and leads to almost finished products being discarded. In the worst case scenario, poor-quality power supply can lead to breakdowns of production units. Therefore, for us as an industrial consumer of energy, the quality of power supply is top priority," says Anton Usachev, Deputy Director General of the Hevel, the largest manufacturer of solar modules in Europe.
Uninterruptible power supplies (which are nothing new in the industry) used to have a number of limitations and were only used in a small set of solutions. For example, traditional lead-acid batteries do not withstand more than 500 charge-discharge cycles and require replacement after several years of operation. To prevent failures on powerful and at the same time sensitive equipment, it is required to install such drives with a serious reserve - from 10% to 30%. Another aspect of the battery is the low current efficiency, and as a result, a large and heavy drive, heating up under intensive operating conditions, and release of explosive hydrogen during the electrolysis of water in the electrolyte. Because of this, these sources are quite demanding when it comes to maintenance and infrastructure (the room must be heated and ventilated). Not all production could afford such investments.
“The whole world is trying to improve energy storage and storage technologies. But due to the fact that the materials known today have approached the border of their efficiency, and fundamentally new electrode-electrolyte structures have not yet been created, it can be said that the existing types of storage devices have reached their maximum capabilities and characteristics. Therefore, the main work is carried out in the field of improving technologies and cheapening the production of storage devices, as well as in the field of creating combined systems to solve industry problems. Our company, TEEMP, has its own technology for producing highly efficient supercapacitors, which we consider to be indispensable in power engineering and electric transport. They significantly expand the capabilities and functionality of uninterruptible power systems, improve the quality of power supply, increase reliability, and extend the useful life of energy storage and storage systems," says Sergey Kurilov, General Director of TEEMP, a Russian developer and manufacturer of supercapacitors.
The supercapacitor occupies an intermediate position between well-known batteries and the typical capacitors used by radio engineers. The prefix "super" denotes a capacity greater than that of its counterparts. At the same time, unlike batteries, energy storage in these devices passes without any chemical reactions, due to the formation of an electrical double layer on the electrode surface, i.e. electrostatically. As a result, supercapacitors have a number of important advantages, in particular, a huge resource and resistance to aggressive operating conditions.
“The main task of the backup power system is to protect the company's most valuable asset - equipment. A well-designed solution allows us to successfully deal with dips, imbalances and voltage fluctuations, pulse bursts, noise and harmonic distortion - all things that threaten the stable operation of modern installations that demand high-quality power supply. At the same time, the main obstacle to the widespread introduction of such systems, the performance characteristics of energy storage devices, is now disappearing,” says Yevgeny Lipkin, CEO of Ostek-SMT, a supplier of UPS for industry.
For several years, TEEMP has been carrying out service life tests of supercapacitor cells. According to the latest data, the cell loses a small amount of its capacity (about 10%) over 1 million charge-discharge cycles. During failure tests, the supercapacitors also held up quite well: for cells with a capacity of 3000 F, the maximum current exceeded 10,000 A, and the absolute record was 32,000 A. In addition, tests with currents above the short circuit level not only failed to affect the integrity of the cell, but also did not disable it.
The company managed to achieve these metrics using domestic developments. The cathode material created by NUST "MISiS" at TEEMP's request consists of long and thin carbon rods of a given size and density. With high strength, the lace-like material has a large specific surface area, which increases the storage capacity. The use of organic electrolytes made TEEMP supercapacitors insensitive to frost - they work effectively even at –65°C. This means that an uninterruptible power system based on such drives can be installed in an unheated room, and will not emit explosive hydrogen in case of overloads.
“For high-tech industries, the quality of energy supply is an extremely sensitive issue. Historically, depending on the potential damage, the problem was solved in various ways - some places reserved power, and others installed traditional uninterruptible power supplies. In some cases, the low quality of the power supply was ignored at first, but after seeing losses, they turned to specialists. Today, with industrial UPS systems based on supercapacitors becoming more accessible (both technologically and financially), we expect them to be widely distributed. After all, the problem has not vanished - it just becomes easier and cheaper to solve,” concludes Evgeny Lipkin.
Source: Energy and Industry of Russia
Author: Nadezhda Kupriyanova