Home Technology Energy Storage Skeleton Technologies Is Changing The World Of Energy Storage

Skeleton Technologies Is Changing The World Of Energy Storage

Green Energy News editor Dan Stephens talks to Taavi Madiberk, CEO of Skeleton Technologies, about how the company's patented curved graphene is changing the world of energy storage.

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Established only eight years ago by the 20-year-old Madiberk and the 22-year-old Oliver Ahlberg, Skeleton Technologies has quickly climbed its way up the ladder to become the global leader in ultracapacitor-based energy storage. Founded in Estonia and with manufacturing in Germany and Estonia, Skeleton is a truly pan-European organisation.

The company’s superior technology enables it to deliver groundbreaking energy storage solutions with market leading power and energy density. Its products are now used across a variety of industries from automotive to aerospace.

“The company is focused on providing reliable solutions across industries where high power almost instant charging and discharging, and long lifetime energy storage play a crucial role for business performance and prosperity,” says Madiberk.

“Ultracapacitors, or supercapacitors as they are also known, are a novel fast energy storage technology that can help overcome some of the biggest barriers to the electrification of automotive, heavy transportation, renewable energy production, and electric grid industries.

“Although the technology has been in development for well over a decade, its potential and capabilities have developed rapidly in recent years.”

“While industry competitors use organic pre-cursor materials, mostly carbon made from coconut, Skeleton is the only company to use an inorganic pre-cursor and has patented the synthesis process for the proprietary material.”

Skeleton Technologies has achieved breakthroughs in ultracapacitor capabilities leading to twice the energy density and four times the power density compared to the closest competitors on the market using its patented curved graphene.

The company’s technological breakthroughs have also seen it reach one of the lowest ESR (equivalent series resistance) levels on the market. This factor is crucial as it greatly increases the efficiency of the cells by reducing the amount of energy that is lost as heat. This is also an advantage because cooling systems can be downsized or removed altogether.

“These competitive advantages mean Skeleton is well-positioned to increase its market share significantly in the coming years. The company is also investing heavily in R&D to increase the energy density of its ultracapacitors to widen the potential use cases for different modules and systems.”

Skeleton’s SkelCap industrial cell series brings the benefits of the company’s advanced curved graphene material and patented production technology to a form factor most commonly found in industry. It delivers leading performance for mass market applications, with a much higher energy density and power density than other manufacturers. The SkelCap series was launched in 2012 and has gained considerable interest in the motorsport, automotive and aerospace sectors, among others.

The SkelCap cells are the basis for the company’s entire product range, including the recently launched SkelGrid, a full energy storage system that can be used for short-term backup power or to increase power quality for industry, data centers, hospital, and other infrastructure. This technology can respond to changes in power quality in milliseconds, ensuring continuous production, and avoiding the high costs of outages.

When it comes to the adoption of renewable energy sources, one thing that is generally overlooked is that they tend to deliver intermittent and unreliable power, heavily depending on the weather conditions, such as the amount of sunshine or how strong the wind is on any given day.

Remarks Madiberk, “This dependency causes an inconsistent and unstable power supply that often results in power outages. Such fluctuations in power can result in serious financial losses that could reach over 150 billion Euros yearly in the EU area alone.

“Ultracapacitors have the capabilities to handle the inconsistent and unstable power supply, providing a fill-in power when renewables are temporarily underperforming.”

Skeleton’s work in this sector has already been recognised. The company was named as one of the 10 New Energy Pioneers for 2017 at the tenth annual Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in New York City.

The company has also been named in the Global Cleantech 100 list, which features companies best positioned to solve tomorrow’s clean tech challenges. The list highlights the work of companies with the highest potential to make significant market impact within 5 to 10 years.

I asked Madiberk to consider the company’s successes thus far, showcasing examples how clients have benefited from Skeleton’s work.

“From supporting wider adoption of electric vehicles, to allowing significant savings through decreased fuel consumption and carbon emissions in heavy transportation, the graphene-based technology has proved its capabilities to accelerate the development of innovative, cleaner, and more advanced solutions in a number of sectors.

“Skeleton Technologies has successfully deployed a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for heavy transportation. The system uses ultracapacitors to store the energy created under braking. The stored energy is then used to provide acceleration assistance via an electric motor fitted to the prop shaft.

“The KERS be can installed in new trucks or retrofitted to existing vehicles, and has proven to provide fuel savings of up to 25%. An Iveco Eurocargo truck, owned by Fraikin, reached 32% fuel savings in a recent road test in the UK. Skeleton is also in trials with a number of manufacturers of passenger vehicles, which you can expect to see on the road in 2020.

“Initially developed for Formula 1 cars, Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems technology is gaining popularity in the automotive and transportation sectors.

Madiberk is understandably excited about opening the company up to new international markets. “The company has just opened a mass production plant in Dresden, Germany, the largest ultracapacitor plant in Europe, ready to provide the vital support to the ever increasing renewable energy sector, the growing energy storage demand in grid, and is setting its sights on the coming generation of hybrid and electric vehicles both in passenger car and heavy transportation sectors.

“The hybridisation and electrification of these industries will see the demand of ultracapacitors increase rapidly. With a greater number of consumers demanding high levels of power, fuelled by the use of electric cars, combined with the increasing share renewables have in energy production, means extra pressure on the grid.

“The industry will have to heavily invest in energy storage to be able to keep up with the demand. Ultracapacitors are ideal for backup and power bridging applications, as well as for frequency and voltage regulation to stabilise the grid.”

But the focus for him and the company continues to be R&D. “R&D is the foundation Skeleton Technologies was built on, and the company will keep investing significant amounts in R&D to stay ahead of the pack and to provide our customers with the best possible ultracapacitor-based solutions.

“Energy density of ultracapacitors is a particular area of interest for R&D, and we are expecting to bring to market the next generation of ultracapacitors with significantly increased energy density to widen the scope of applications for ultracapacitors.

“The company is growing rapidly and looking to further increase our presence in Germany in order to better serve the automotive manufacturers and Tier 1 companies located in Central Europe.”

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