A company caled 5.11 Tactical has released what they are calling the Light for Life UC3.400 flashlight. Using an ultracapacitor technology, 5.11 Tactical and a company called IVUS Energy Innovations has been able to produce a flashlight that provides 90 minutes of power after a 90 second charge. The ultracapacitor technology is called Flashpoint technology – it apparently provides capacitors that don’t degrade with each charging, and that will last for tens of thousands of charges.
So, what is this ultracapacitor of which they speak? The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has a site on ultracapacitors with a lot of information. From the site:
An ultracapacitor, also known as a double-layer capacitor, polarizes an electrolytic solution to store energy electrostatically. Though it is an electrochemical device, no chemical reactions are involved in its energy storage mechanism. This mechanism is highly reversible, and allows the ultracapacitor to be charged and discharged hundreds of thousands of times.
An ultracapacitor can be viewed as two nonreactive porous plates, or collectors, suspended within an electrolyte, with a voltage potential applied across the collectors. In an individual ultracapacitor cell, the applied potential on the positive electrode attracts the negative ions in the electrolyte, while the potential on the negative electrode attracts the positive ions. A dielectric separator between the two electrodes prevents the charge from moving between the two electrodes. Diagram 2 depicts an ultracapacitor, its modules, and an ultracapacitor cell.
Once the ultracapacitor is charged and energy stored, a load (the vehicle’s motor) can use this energy. The amount of energy stored is very large compared to a standard capacitor because of the enormous surface area created by the porous carbon electrodes and the small charge separation (10 angstroms) created by the dielectric separator. However, it stores a much smaller amount of energy than does a battery. Since the rates of charge and discharge are determined solely by its physical properties, the ultracapacitor can release energy much faster (with more power) than a battery that relies on slow chemical reactions.
As far as the flashlight’s body, LEDs, and output specs – 50,000 hours on each of the three LEDs, a body made of firearm grade polymers, and 270 lumens on bright mode, 90 on standard, and it has 270 lumen tactical strobe. The body is abrasion, crack, water, and bend-resistant.
The UC3.400 flashlight is going to be around a $170 investment – but if all goes well, you won’t need another for about ten years. Check out the Light for Life UC3.400.