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Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

Aluminium electrolytic capacitors are widely used in power supply circuitry of electronic equipment as there after several advantages over other types of capacitances. The selection of a capacitor for an application without knowing the basics may result in unreliable performance of the equipment due to expanitor problems. It may lead to customer dissatisfaction and damage market to potential or the image of a reputed company. The aluminium eletrolytic capacitors are suitable to be used when a great capacitance value is required in a very small size. The volume of an electrolytic capacitor is more than 10 times less than a film one considering the same rated voltage and capacitance. The cost per F is also less when compared with all other capacitors.

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

An aluminium electrolytic capacitor is composed of high-purity, thin aluminium foil (0.05 to I mm thick) having a dieletric anidation on its surface to prevent current flow in one direction. This outs as anode. Another these two aluminium coils is an electrolytic impregnated paper, which cuts as the dieletric. Since the capacitors is inversely propotional to the dieletric thiclenen. And the dieletric thicknen is propotional to the forming voltage, the relationship between capacitance and cerming voltage is. Capacitance X Forming Voltage = Constant. Aluminium tabs attached to the anode and cathode coils act as the positive and negative leads of the capacitor respectively. The entire element is sealed into an aluminium can by using rubber, bakelite or phenolic plastic. The construction of an aluminum electrolytic capacitor is the following:

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

The anode (A): The anode is formed by an aluminium foil of extreme purity. The effective surface area of the coil is greatly enlarged (by a factor upto 200) by electrochemical etching in order to achive the maximum possible capacitance values.

The dieletric (O): The aluminum foil (A) is covered by a very thin oxidised layer of aluminium oride (O=Al2O3. This oxide is obtained by means of an eletro chemical process. The typical value of forming voltage is 1.2 nm/v. the oxide with stands a high electric field strength and it has a high dielectric constant. Aluminium oxide is therefore well suited as a capacitor dieletric in a polar capacitor. The A12O3 has a high insulation resistance for voltages lower than the forming voltage. The oxide layer consistitutes a nonlinear voltage dependent resistance: increases more steeply as the voltage increases the current

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

The electrolytic Paper, cathode (C,K) The negative electrode is a liquid electrolyte absorbed in a paper. The paper also acts as a spacer between the positive foil carrying the dieletric layer and the opposite Al-foil ( the negative Coil) acting as a contact medium to the eletrolyte. The cathode foil serves as a large contact area for passing current to the operating eletrolyte. Bipolar Al electrolytic capacitors are also available. In this designs both the anode foil and cathode foil are anodized. capacitance rating as the anode foil. alternating voltages. The cathode foil has the same This construction allows for

operation of direct voltage of either polarity as well as operation of purely Since it causes internal heating the applied atternating voltage must be kept considerably below the direct voltage rating. Since we have the series connection of two capacitor elements, the total capacitance is equal to only half the individual capacitance value. So compared to polar capacitor, a bipolar capacitor requires upto twice the volume for the same total capacitance.

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors


The technical terms are useful in evaluating or comparing the capacitors from various manufacturers. RATED CAPACITANCE: Rated capacitance one usually defined at 20 C for 100 Hz or 120 Hz. Circuit designers should take into account its variation with frequency and temperature. 1. When temperature increases, the leakage current and capacitace increases while ESR decreases.

2. when frequency increases, capacitance and impedance decrease

while tan (dissipation factor) increases.

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

3. When frequency decreases, the ripple current heat generated

increases the equivalent series resistance (ESR).

RATED VOLTAGE (Rr): Rated voltage is the maximum voltage that can be continously applied to the capacitor within specified operating temperature range of the capacitor. The following should be taken into account: In case an AC voltage is super imposed on on a DC Voltage, the sum of the DC voltage and the peak value of AC should not exceed the rated voltage (Vr) of the capacitor. If the DC voltages of both polarities are likely to be encountered in an application, use DC bipolar capacitors. DC bipolar capacitors should not be used for AC applications.

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

When capacitors are connected is series to achieve a higher operational voltage, the voltage distribution on each of the capacitors will not be the same even for capacitors for same voltage rating. This is due to normal DC leakage distribution. SURGE VOLTAGE (Vp) : Surge voltage is the maximum over voltage including DC peak AC and transients to which the capacitor can be subjected for short periods (not exceeding 30 secs every 5 mints). Its value varies between capacitors from different manufacturers and is related to the rated voltage as follows: Vp = 1.15Vr for capacitors having Vr = 200V Vp = 1.10 Vr for capacitors having Vr>200V EQUIVALENT SERIES RESISTANCE (ESR): the ESR is the resistance that the capacitors offers to an alternating current flow. It arises due to resistance from various components including the electrolyte, paper coil etc. the ESR to an alternating current generate heat with an the capacitor. It is specified for 100 Hz at 20C. It decreases with the increase in temperature and frequency. LEAKAGE CURRENT : When the rated voltage is applied to a capacitor, there is initially a high current flow, which exponentially decreases as the capacitor gets charged. Even after the capacitor is fully charged, there will be a constant small value of current flowing into the capacitor. This is formed as the leakage current. It is due to the aluminium oxide which acts as the dielectric. The curve gradient of the exponential current decrease is a measure of the quality of the capacitor. The steeper the curve gradient, the better the capacitor.

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

The leakage current increases with temperature. After long periods of storage (at a high temperature), the leakage current may exceed the rated value. This is particularly important to check high voltage capacitors, where during the first turn on, the circuit may trip or, the worst case, cause failure due to increased value of leakage current. Circuit designers should take into account this phenomenon while designing. To bring down the leakage current value, reanodise the capacitor after long periods of storage. Reanodisation means applying the rated voltage to the capacitors for one to two hars through a series resistor. The value of the resistor can be 100 ohm for Vr 100V DC and 1 kohm per Vr>1000 V. DISSIPATION FACTOR (tan). It is defined as the ratio of the ESR to the capacitive reactance. Dissipation factor (DF) = tan + ESR / Xc. Where capacitive reactance Xc =1/(2fc). Therefore, tan = ESR ( 2 fc)

The dissipation factor, also called the loss angle tangent (tan), is a very important parameter for capacitors. It increases with frequency .

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

A small value of inductance, usually of the order of a few nanohenries (nH), is present in the electrolytic capacitor, its reactance is denoted by XL. IMPEDENCE (Z): The impedence of the capacitor given by Z=ESR2 +(XL-XC)2 impedence is dominated by capacitive reactance XL of low frequencies. At the series resonance frequencies, the inductive reactance is equal to capacitive reactance so the impedence: Z=ESR Above the series resonance frequency, the capacitor behaves like an inductor, which means the impedence is dominated by inductive reactances

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

Capacitive reactance predominates at low frequencies. With increase in frequency the capacitive reactance Xc=1/wC0 decreases until it reaches the order of magnitude of electrolyte resistance Re(A). At even higher frequencies ,the resistance of the electrolyte predominates :Z=Re(A-B)= When the capacitors resonance frequency is reached (W0) ,capcitive and inductive reactance mutually cancel each other 1/wCe=wL, w0=SQR(1/LCe). Above this frequency ,the inductive reactance of the winding and its terminal(XL=Z=wL) becomes effective and leads to an increase in impedance. Generally speaking it can be estimated that Ce=0.01Co.


Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

Re is the most temperature dependent component of electrolytic capacitor equivalent circuit.The electrolyte resistivity will decrease if the temperature rises. RIPPLE CURRENT (Ir):- It is the superimposed alternating ripple current defined of 100 hz at 85C . The ripple current is limited by the internal temperature rise within the capacitor as follows: power dissipated P = Irip2 *(ESR) =TS Where T is the difference between ambient temperature and capacitor surface temperature, S is capacitor surface (cm2) and in is dissipation factor or thermal gradient (watt/cm2 0C). Therefore, Irip =(TS/ESR) Frequency dependence of the ripple current:The ESR and thus the tan depend on the frequency of the applied voltage. It means that the allowed ripple current is a function of the frequency too. Temperature dependence of the ripple current:The data sheet specifies that the maximum current at the upper category temperature of each temperature.


Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

SUPERIMPOSED AC, RIPPLE VOLTAGE:A superimposed alternating ac voltage ,or ripple voltage, may be applied to aluminium electrolytic capacitors provided that : 1. The sum of the direct voltage and superimposed alternating voltage does not exceed the rated voltage; 2. The rated ripple current is not exceeded; 3. No polarity reversal will occur.

MAXIMUM PERMISSIBLE OPERATING TEMPERATURE (upper category temperature):The upper category temperature is the maximum permissible temperature at which the capacitor may be operated, measured on the can.If the above limit is trespassed the capacitor may fail prematurely.

MINIMUM PERMISSIBLE OPERATING TEMPERATURE (lower category temperature):The minimum category temperature is the minimum permissible temperature at which the capacitor may be operated measured on the

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

can.The conductivity of the electrolyte reduces with decreasing temperature,causing electrolyte resistance, impedance and ESR increasing.For this reason, minimum permissible operating temperature are specified for aluminium electrolytic capacitors.

STORAGE TEMPERATURE:Storage at high temperature (eg:- upper category temperature) will reduce the leakage current stability, life and reliability of electrolytic capacitors.Store capacitors at atemperature of 5 to35 C and a humidity 75% maximum.

SAFETY VENT:An overpressure device (safety vent) ensuring that the gas can escape when the pressure reaches a certain value.


Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors


In some applications the required capacitance may not be achieved by using a single Al electrolytic capacitor. This may be the case if: The required electrical charge is too high to be stored in a single capacitor,

The voltages that are to be applied are higher than can be attained by the permissible operating voltage ratings, Charge-discharge and ripple current loads would generate more heat than could be safely dissipated by a single capacitor, and The requirements on the electrical characteristics (e.g. series resistance, dissipation factor or inductance) are so high that it would be too difficult or even impossible to implement them in a single capacitor. In these cases, banks of capacitors connected in parallel or in series or in combined parallel and series circuits will be used.

Parallel connection of Al electrolytic capacitors If one of the capacitors in a parallel circuit fails as a result of an internal short circuit, the entire bank is discharged through the defective capacitor. In the case of large banks with high energy content this may lead to extremely abrupt and severe discharge phenomena. It is therefore advisable to take measures to prevent or limit the short-circuit discharge current. In smoothing capacitor banks, for example, this is achieved by installing individual fuses; the principle is shown in figure

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

This principle is not suitable for capacitor banks designed for impulse discharges. Here, the capacitors should be protected during the charging process by means of appropriate resistors. The capacitors are then connected in parallel immediately before they are to be discharged. The principle is shown in figure Series connection of Al electrolytic capacitors When designing series circuits with Al electrolytic capacitors, care must be taken to ensure that the load on each individual capacitor does not exceed its maximum permissible voltage. Here, the fact that the total dc voltage applied is divided up among the individual capacitors in proportion to their individual dielectric insulation resistances must be taken into consideration. Since the dielectric insulation resistance of the individual capacitors may differ quite strongly, the voltage distribution may also be non-uniform, which may lead to the permissible voltage of individual capacitors being exceeded. For this reason, forced balancing of the voltage distribution is recommended.


Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

The safest method of achieving this is to use electrically isolated voltage sources for the individual capacitors as shown in figure. If this is not possible, external balancing resistors RSymm can be connected to the individual capacitors. The balancing resistances must be equal to one another, and must be substantially lower than the dielectric insulation resistance of the capacitor.

Experience has shown that it is preferable to choose balancing resistance values that will cause a current of approximately 20 times the leakage current of the capacitor to flow through the resistors. The equation for calculating the resistance value is: The balancing measures described above may be omitted in cases where the total dc voltage to be applied is substantially lower than the sum of the rated voltages of the capacitors to be used. Experience has shown that this is possible for n = 2 to 3 single capacitors in series without any considerable risk if the total voltage does not exceed 0,8 n UR. However, this solution can only be implemented if the series circuit

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

consists of matching capacitors (same type, same capacitance), so that the dielectric insulation resistance of the capacitors, which is the only factor determining the voltage distribution in this case, will not vary too greatly from one capacitor to the next. RSymm 50 M. F 1 CR ------- ?=

Combined parallel and series connection

The recommendations given above apply similarly to combinations of parallel and series circuits. If balancing resistors are to be used, it is advisable to allocate a separate resistor to each capacitor

Combined parallel / series connection (voltage balancing by shunt resistors) The alternative solution, parallel connection of the series capacitors in the individual branch and the use of one balancing resistor for each capacitor group, is shown in figure

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

Combined parallel / series connection (group voltage balancing) This solution is less complicated, but it has one serious disadvantage: If a capacitor in one of the series branches fails and causes a shortcircuit, the total voltage will be applied to the remaining capacitors. This will lead to a voltage overload and may destroy the remaining capacitors. In the balancing arrangement shown in figure, only the series branch with the defective capacitor is subject to this risk, whereas in the more simple configuration shown in figure, the voltage overload affects all series branches due to the internal cross-connections, thus causing more severe damage. For the same reason, internal parallel connections should not be used in parallel groups connected in series without balancing resistors.


Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors


The main features of aluminum electrolytic capacitors are 1. high mechanical stability 2. They are polarized 3. Charge/discharge proof 4. Long life. 5. Keyed polarity Advantages:- Large value of capacitance is available in a very small size. The volume of electrolytic capacitor is more then 10 times less than a film one considering the same rated capacitance and voltage. Cost per F of this capacitor is less when compared to all other types.


Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

The advantages of aluminum electrolytic capacitors that have lead to their wide application range are their high volumetric efficiency (that is capacitance per unit volume); which enables the production of capacitors upto 1F capacitance. And the fact that an aluminium electrolytic capacitor provides a high ripple current capability together with a high reliability and excellent price/performance ratio. So these are widely used in electrical and electronics industries. They find their wide applications in telecommunication and computer industries also.


Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

Electronics for you, July 2004


Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

Aluminium electrolytic capacitors are widely used for the power supply circuitry of electronic equipment as these after several advantages over other types of capacitors. The capacitors are electrical components that store electrical charge according to the equation Q=CV, where Q is the charge in coulombs (C), C is the capacitance in Farads (F) and V is the Voltage (V)


Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors



Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors