BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
(a) Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to an electric double layer capacitor (EDLC) and, more particularly, to the structure of the thrust plates and the mounting gasket of the EDLC having higher characteristics and a larger capacitance with smaller dimensions.
(b) Description of the Related Art
The EDLCs have been used in a variety of applications, and now are expected for new applications such as a power source for driving a cell motor of a car in combination with a lead battery, and an auxiliary power source in combination with a solar battery. The EDLC is now being developed to have a larger storage capacity with smaller dimensions by taking advantage of the structure of the EDLC having a small thickness.
FIGS. 1A and 1B show conventional EDLCs in cross section. The EDLC includes a plurality of unit capacitors or unit cells stacked one on another and each including a pair of polarizing electrodes 30, a porous separator 40, a pair of current collectors 20 made of conductive sheet, and a gasket 50. Each unit cell is supported by a cylindrical mounting gasket 50 for encircling the polarizing electrodes 30, which sandwich therebetween the porous separator 40 and is sandwiched between the pair of current collectors 20. The current collectors 20 disposed outermost side of the stacked unit cells are in electric contact with a pair of metallic terminals (not shown) each having an external lead terminal.
The polarizing electrodes 30 are impregnated with an electrolytic solution which may be an aqueous or organic solution, and sealed by an packaging overcoat not shown in the drawings.
The withstand voltage of the EDLC is generally limited by the electrolysis voltage of the electrolytic solution, and thus a specified number of unit cells are stacked for serial connection depending on the desired withstand voltage, with one of the current collectors of the unit cell being shared with the adjacent unit cell, or in contact with one of the current collectors of the adjacent unit cell.
Patent Publications JP-A-55-107225, -5-299295, -8-83596 and -11-135382 describe EDLCs having a lower internal resistance and excellent resistance against mechanical impacts. In these EDLCs, each unit cell having a pair of carbon electrodes impregnated with electrolytic solution and sandwiching therebetween a porous separator is encapsulated by a laminated packaging overcoat made of organic polymers having a metallic film as a core member under a vacuum ambient.
Patent Publication JP-A-5-299295 describes a EDLC wherein a unit cell is formed by thrusting the capacitor elements received in an envelope between a pair of thrust plates, followed by screwing the same.
For the EDLCs, it is proposed or suggested in a variety of publications such as mentioned above to reduce the contact resistance in the unit cell as well as stacked unit cells, in view of the trend for obtaining a higher storage capacity with smaller dimension.
In the proposed EDLC, wherein the contact resistance is reduced by using the pair of thrust plates, for example, there is a problem in that it is difficult to achieve a uniform close contact in fact for reducing the contact resistance. In addition, the stacked unit cells are likely to be misaligned at the interface therebetween during the thrusting operation under the vacuum ambient.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Thus, in the conventional EDLC, there occur damages such as split, distortion, or ununiform contact of the electrode layers, and damage or crack of the package. In short, desired equivalent serial resistance (ESR) characteristics or stability thereof as well as desired reliability of the product are not achieved in the conventional EDLC.
In view of the above problems in the conventional EDLCs, it is an object of the present invention to provide a structure for the EDLC which is capable of allowing smaller dimensions and having a larger storage capacity, and reducing and stabilizing the ESR etc. characteristics of the EDLC.
The present invention provides, in one aspect thereof, an electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC) including: a cell assembly including at least one unit cell having a pair of polarizing electrodes impregnated with electrolytic solution, and a porous separator sandwiched between the polarizing electrodes, a pair of current collectors sandwiching therebetween the unit cell, and a pair of lead terminals in electric contact with the current collectors; a pair of thrust plates each disposed on a corresponding one of the current collector for thrusting therebetween the cell assembly, a mounting gasket for receiving the cell assembly together with the thrust plates; and a packaging overcoat for encapsulating the cell assembly, thrust plates and the mounting gasket, each of the thrust plates having a slanted side surface in contact with the packaging overcoat.
The present invention provide, in another aspect thereof, an electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC) comprising: a cell assembly including at least one unit cell having a pair of polarizing electrodes impregnated with electrolytic solution, and a porous separator sandwiched between the polarizing electrodes, a pair of current collectors sandwiching therebetween the unit cell, and a pair of lead terminals in electric contact with the current collectors; a pair of thrust plates each disposed on a corresponding one of the current collector for thrusting therebetween the cell assembly, a mounting gasket for receiving the cell assembly together with the thrust plates; and a packaging overcoat for encapsulating the cell assembly, thrust plates and the mounting gasket, each of the thrust plates having an effective thrusting area which is equivalent to or smaller than an effective area of the current collector.
In accordance with the present invention, the configuration of the thrust plates affords excellent device characteristics to the EDLC such as an excellent ESR characteristic.
- BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The above and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be more apparent from the following description, referring to the accompanying drawings.
FIGS. 1A and 1B are sectional views of conventional EDLCs.
FIGS. 2A to 2C are a sectional view, a top plan view and a sectional view, respectively, of an EDLC according to an embodiment of the present invention, FIGS. 2A and 2C being taken along lines A-A′ and C-C′ shown in FIG. 2B.
FIGS. 3A and 3B are a sectional view and a top plan view of an EDLC according to another embodiment of the present invention.
FIGS. 4A to 4C are side views of the thrust plates, and
FIGS. 4D and 4E are detailed sectional views of the vicinities of the slanted surfaces of the thrust plates.
FIGS. 5A to 5C are side views of the structure of the thrust plates and the lead terminals.
FIGS. 6A to 6E are detailed side or perspective views each showing the detail of the structure of the lead terminals or thrust plates.
FIGS. 7A and 7B are sectional views of EDLCs according to other embodiments of the present invention.
FIG. 8 is a sectional view of an EDLC according to another embodiment of the present invention.
PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
FIGS. 9A and 9B are a sectional view and a top plan view, respectively, of an EDLC according to another embodiment of the present invention.
Now, the present invention is more specifically described with reference to accompanying drawings, wherein similar constituent elements are designated by similar reference numerals.
Referring to FIGS. 2A to 2C, an EDLC according to a first embodiment of the present invention includes a pair of unit cells to form a cell assembly, wherein each unit cell has an en block stacked structure including consecutively a current collector 1, a polarizing electrode 2, a porous separator 3, a polarizing electrode 2 and a current collector 1, which are received in a cylindrical mounting gasket 4. These unit cells are stacked one on another to form a stacked cell pair, with one of the current collectors 1 of one the unit cells being in contact with one of the current collectors 1 of the other of the unit cells. A pair of thrust plates 5 a are provided on both bottom and top surfaces of the stacked cell pair. The thrust plate 5 a has a top flat surface and four slanted side surfaces which are in contact with a packaging overcoat 8, and a bottom flat surface which is in contact with the current collector of the stacked cell pair.
Referring to FIG. 3A and 3B, an EDLC according to a second embodiment of the present invention is similar to the first embodiment except for the structure of the thrust plates, which are designated by 5 b in the second embodiment and have a round slanted surface.
The thrust plate 5 a in the first embodiment is shown in FIG. 4A, having a shape similar to a base portion of a pyramid, i.e., a central top flat surface and a four skirt portions 11 a each of a slanted plane.
The thrust plate 5 b in the second embodiment is shown in FIG. 3B, and is similar to the thrust plate of FIG. 3A except for the slanted surfaces each having a curvature or round surface 11 b which is convex toward the outside of the EDLC. The thrust plates 5 b sandwich therebetween the stacked cell pair and are thrust by an external force to stack the unit cells together in a close contact during fabrication of the EDLC.
The stacked cell pair is encapsulated in a packaging overcoat 8 by a thrust pressure under the vacuum ambient. The slanted surface 11 a or 11 b of the thrust plate 5 a or 5 b shown in FIGS. 4A or 4B allows the stacked cell pair to be uniformly thrust by the thrust pressure under the vacuum packaging ambient. The slanted surface may be a concave surface 11 b 1 which is concave from the outside, as shown in FIG. 4C. In these configurations of the slanted surfaces, a uniform close contact can be achieved between the unit cells in the stacked cell pair and between the current collector and the thrust plate. A stable ESR characteristic can be achieved by the close contact by the thrust plates.
In addition, the top flat surface of the thrust plate 5 a or 5 b allows the resultant EDLC to be placed on a working table in a stable posture during handling of the EDLC.
Each of the thrust plates 5 a is connected to a lead terminal 7 a or 7 b as shown in FIG. 2B. In an alternative, as shown in FIG. 5A, the thrust plate 5 e may have an en bloc lead terminal 7 a or 7 b. The thickness of the lead terminal7 a or 7 b shown in FIG. 5A is equivalent to the thickness of the thrust plate 5 e due to the en bloc configuration.
In another configuration shown in FIG. 5B, the lead terminal 7 a or 7 b has a thickness smaller than the thickness of the thrust plate 5 e. In a further alternative, as shown in FIG. 5C, the lead terminal 7 a or 7 b has a terminal plate section 6 a sandwiched between the thrust plate 5 f and the current collector 1 of the stacked cell pair. In this configuration, the thrust plate 5 f may be made of an insulator such as ceramics.
The insulator thrust plates, such as shown in FIG. 5C, may be formed as a thrust member assembly, as shown in FIG. 6B, which has a bridge 6 c for coupling the pair of thrust plates 6 a and 6 b at one side of the stacked cell pair. The thrust member assembly allows the stacked cell pair to be sandwiched between the thrust plates 6 a and 6 b with ease and at a stable posture.
Referring to FIG. 6A, the terminal plate 6 a or 6 b, such as shown in FIG. 5C, has an en bloc lead terminal 7 a or 7 b having bends. The lead terminals 7 a and 7 b extend from the respective terminal plates 6 a and 6 b from the same side of the stacked cell pair toward outside the gasket and then bent twice toward the center of the stacked cell pair to form a common plane, as designated by A-A′ in FIG. 6A. The common plane of the lead terminals 7 a and 7 b allows the overcoat package to be sealed with ease.
The chamfer of bend of the lead terminal should be preferably such that a small space is disposed between the edge of the gasket and the bend of the lead terminal, in order to avoid a short circuit failure between the current collector and the lead terminal or the lead terminal and the opposite terminal plate.
The chamfer of the bend of the lead terminal 7 a or 7 b is such that the inner corner angle A of the bend, as shown in FIGS. 6D or 6E, is preferably equal to or above 90 degrees. This improves the ESR characteristic of the resultant EDLC. In FIG. 6E, the chamfer angle A of the lead terminal 7 a or 7 b is shown as somewhat exaggerated.
The inner corner angle A of the bend which is above 90 degrees prevents the lead terminal 7 a or 7 b from contacting the current collector 1 exposed from the edge of the mounting gasket, thereby avoiding a short circuit failure and a resultant degradation of the device reliability.
Referring to FIG. 7A, inner edge of the mounting gasket 4 a is chamfered or cut out for allowing the L-shaped edge of the mounting gasket to receive the outer lower edge of the thrust plate in the cutout, as indicated by symbol K1. Thus, the outer edge of the thrust plate 5 c and the inner edge of the mounting gasket 4 a are interdigitated or engaged together.
The interdigitaion or engagement at the cutout allows a correct positioning between the mounting gasket 4 a and the thrust plate 5 c. This allows a stable thrusting operation to be applied, which then allows a correct alignment between the layers of the stacked cell pair to prevent deviation in alignment therebetween, and improves the ESR characteristic of the resultant EDLC. Thus, split or break of the electrode plates or current collectors due to the deviation of the thrust plate with respect to the electrodes or collectors can be avoided. In addition, the resultant prevention of the short circuit failure allows a stable operation of the resultant EDLC.
The mounting gasket 4 c may have a chamfer or round corner 12 at the outer corner edge thereof, as shown in FIG. 8, at the location where the mounting gasket contacts 4 c with the packaging overcoat 8. This prevents the crack or split of the packaging overcoat 8, especially in the case of the packaging overcoat 8 made of a film
In an alternative, as shown in FIG. 7B, the edge of the mounting gasket 4 b has a stripe protrusion which is received in a stripe groove formed in the vicinity of the edge of the thrusting plate 5 d for the interdigitation between the mounting gasket 4 b and the thrusting plate 5 d.
As shown in FIG. 8, the mounting gasket 4 c may have a plurality of positioning gaskets 9 received in a plurality of cutouts of the outer edge of the mounting gasket 4 c. This effectively prevents deviation of the mounting plate 5 g with respect to the layers of the stacked cell pair.
The positioning gasket 9 has preferably a thickness equivalent to or less than the thickness of the thrusting plate 5 g. This allows the thrusting plate 5 g to provide a uniform thrusting force to the stacked cell pair.
The area of the thrusting plate 5 in contact with the stacked cell pair for thrusting the same is preferably equivalent to or larger than the area of the polarizing electrode 2. This prevents breakage of the current collector 1 and thus resultant leakage of the electrolytic solution, and split or breakage of the polarizing electrodes 2.
Referring to FIGS. 4D and 4E, the packaging overcoat 8 is in a close contact with the outer slanted surface of the thrusting plate 5 b, 5 a, 5 c or 5 d, irrespective of the slanted surface being a round surface (FIG. 4D) or a planar surface (FIG. 4E) and the packaging overcoat 8 being a resin package or a film package.
The packaging overcoat 8 may be a laminated film including an aluminum core layer and a pair of resin layers sandwiching the same therebetween especially in the case of a vacuum packaging operation.
The resin layer for the laminated film may be a polyolefine-based film such as made of polyethylene or polypropylene, a polyamide-based film, a polyester-based film such as made of polyethylene terephthalate, or may be combination of these films.
The EDLC may have a frame member 10 made of soft resin or elastic rubber between the mounting gasket 4 and the packaging overcoat 8 for encircling the stacked cell pair, as shown in FIG. 9A. The frame member 10 assist the mounting gasket 4 in support of the stacked cell pair with respect to the packaging overcoat 8. The frame member 10 has preferably an outer edge which is chamfered to have a round edge 12. This configuration allows prevention of deviation of the stacked cell pair and damage of the packaging overcoat 8 during the vacuum packaging operation, and also functions as a buffer member against an external impact.
The frame member 10 may be made of synthetic rubber elastomer such as polystyrene-based thermoplastic elastomer, polyolefine-based thermoplastic elastomer, polydiene-based thermoplastic elastomer, chlorine-based thermoplastic elastomer, and engineering plastic thermoplastic elastomer
The current collector, electrolytic solution, polarizing electrode, porous separator and gasket member may be made of other materials other than the materials as exemplified herein.
The current collector may be made of rectangular rubber or plastic sheet obtained by kneading conductive carbon powder with butyl rubber or plastic, or made of a metallic foil. The electrolytic solution may be a diluted sulfuric acid aqueous solution, or may be a non-aqueous electrolytic solution wherein tetraethylammonium tetrafluoroborate etc. is solved in a non-aqueous polarizing solvent such as propylene carbonate, diethyl carbonate, ethyl carbonate, and ethyl-methyl carbonate.
The polarizing electrode may be preferably an active carbon sheet or an active carbon block wherein active carbon powder is shaped by a binder such as a phenol resin binder, followed by sintering thereof. The porous separator may be preferably made of a woven cloth or an unwoven cloth made of glass fibers, or a porous resin film made of polypropylene polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), polyvinilydine fluoride (PVDF). The gasket may be preferably made of a heat-resisting ABS resin or insulating butyl rubber sheet.
Samples of the EDLC according to the above embodiments were fabricated, and subjected to tests in comparison with modifications therefrom or comparative examples, the tests including measurement of ESR, self discharge (SD) characteristics in the initial stage after fabrication and a subsequent reliability test including MTTF.
The self discharge (SD) test was measured, after applying 8 volts for 24 hours at a room temperature, by measuring the voltage ratio of the residual voltage at 24 hours after the stop of the voltage application with respect to the initial voltage directly after the stop of the voltage application. The residual voltage ratio is expressed in terms of percents thereof.
The ESR characteristic is obtained as the real part of the impedance measured by an alternate-current-four-terminal method using a test signal having a frequency of 1 kHz.
The mean time to failure (MTTF) in the reliability test is measured by 1000 hours of application of 8 volts at a high temperature of 70° C. The MTTF is obtained by measuring the time lengths of the samples between the start of the test and the time instant at which the samples exhibited failures, plotting the time lengths on Wible probability sheet and estimating the level of MTTF thus obtained for the samples, with the MTTF of Embodiment #1 being set at a unit.
The number of samples was 50 for each level, and the MTTF of these samples were averaged. Each sample had a stacked cell structure having 10 serial unit cells in the stacked cell structure.
The sample of Embodiment #1 had a pair of 0.3-mm-thick thrust plates each having a lead terminal. The effecting area of the thrust plate is equivalent to the contact area of the stacked cells, and the chamfer angle A shown in FIG. 6E was 90 degrees The samples of modifications #1 modified from Embodiment #1 had chamfer angles A of 60, 75, 105 and 135 degrees. In addition, samples of modifications #2 modified from Embodiment #1 had chamfer angles A of 75, 90, 105 and 135 degrees. The samples having a chamfer angle of 60 or 75 degrees were comparative examples.
Each of two samples of Embodiments #2 had a pair of thick thrust plates each having a lead terminal. The effecting area of the thrust plate is equivalent to the contact area of the stacked cells, and the slanted surface of the thrust plate was a round surface 11 b, as shown in FIG. 4B, having a radius of curvature of 0.05 or 0.1 mm. The samples of modifications #3 modified from Embodiment #2 had slanted planes 11 a, such as shown in FIG. 4A. The chamfer of the edge in modification had 0.05 or 0.1 mm.
Each sample of Embodiment #3 had a frame member 10, such as shown in FIG. 9A, which has a height “L” wherein L>B. L=B or L<B, given B being the thickness of the stacked cells.
The sample of Modification #4 modified from Embodiment #3 had a height “L” wherein L=B, with the chamfer of the edge of the frame member having a radius of curvature of 0.1 mm.
The sample of Embodiment #4 had a positioning gasket 9, such as shown in FIG. 8, wherein the thickness of the gasket 9 is smaller than the thickness of the thrusting plate.
The results of the measurements are shown in Table 1.
| ||TABLE 1 |
| || |
| || |
| ||LEVEL ||ESR ||SD ||RTTF ||CF |
| || |
|EMBODIMENT #1 ||A-90° ||1 ||1 ||1 ||INVENTION |
|MODIFICATION #1 ||A-60° ||4.0 ||0.75 ||0.57 ||COMPARA- |
| || || || || ||TIVE |
| || || || || ||EXAMPLE |
|MODIFICATiON #1 ||A-75° ||2.5 ||0.80 ||0.73 ||COMPARA- |
| || || || || ||TIVE |
| || || || || ||EXAMPLE |
|MODIFICATION #1 ||A-105° ||0.95 ||1.2 ||1.23 ||INVENTION |
|MODIFICATION #1 ||A-135° ||0.94 ||1.34 ||1.53 ||INVENTION |
|MODIFICATION #2 ||A-75° ||1.7 ||0.9 ||0.92 ||COMPARA- |
| || || || || ||TIVE |
| || || || || ||EXAMPLE |
|MODIFICATION #2 ||A-90° ||0.96 ||1.2 ||1.31 ||INVENTION |
|MODIFICATION #2 ||A-105° ||0.88 ||1.3 ||2.1 ||INVENTION |
|MODIFICATION #2 ||A-135° ||0.85 ||1.35 ||2.38 ||INVENTION |
|EMBODIMENT #2 ||R-0.05 ||0.88 ||1.2 ||1.9 ||INVENTION |
|EMBODIMENT #2 ||R-0.1 ||0.82 ||1.3 ||2.4 ||INVENTION |
|MODIFICATION #3 ||C-0.05 ||0.89 ||1.35 ||1.7 ||INVENTION |
|MODIFICATION #3 ||C-0.1 ||0.81 ||1.23 ||2.3 ||INVENTION |
|MODIFICATION #3 ||L < B ||0.92 ||1.1 ||1.63 ||INVENTION |
|MODIFICATION #3 ||L = B ||0.98 ||0.98 ||1.32 ||INVENTION |
|MODIFICATION #3 ||L > B ||3.9 ||0.97 ||0.39 ||INVENTION |
|MODIFICATION #4 ||L = B ||0.95 ||0.98 ||2.04 ||INVENTION |
|EMBODIMENT #4 || ||1.03 ||1.07 ||1.53 ||INVENTION |
As understood from Table 1, the samples of Embodiments and modifications therefrom had excellent characteristics compared to the conventional EDLC. More specifically, samples of the present invention having slanted plane or slanted round surface, having the area of the thrust plate which is smaller of the area of the current collector, the chamfered angle of the lead terminal which is equal to or larger than 90 degrees, or the specific structure of the mounting gasket achieved excellent ESR and SD characteristics.
Since the above embodiments are described only for examples, the present invention is not limited to the above embodiments and various modifications or alterations can be easily made therefrom by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the present invention.