Ultracapacitor technology breakthrough powers higher-performance products

Maxwell Technologies launches the first of a new family of large cell BOOSTCAP ultracapacitor cells and multi-cell modules based on a technology breakthrough that enables them to store more energy and deliver more power per unit volume and last longer than any other commercially available ultracapacitor products.

Richard Smith, Maxwell's executive vice president for strategic business development, said that the just-released 2.7-volt BOOSTCAP MC2600 2,600-farad large cell and fully integrated BMOD2600-16 16-volt module, incorporating six MC2600 cells, establish new industry standards for performance and price.

“These new products meet or exceed demanding automotive application requirements for both watt-hours of energy storage and watts of power delivery per kilogram, and will perform reliably for more than one million discharge-recharge cycles at 2.7 volts.” Smith said. “The proprietary technology on which they are based also significantly reduces material and production cost, positioning Maxwell to achieve our stated goal of pricing large cell ultracapacitors at one cent per farad in million-cell annual volumes.” Smith said that the new family of large cells and multi-cell modules are specifically designed “with the user in mind” to provide versatile, durable, compact and low-cost solutions for strategic transportation and industrial applications.

The cylindrical MC2600 cells, constructed of lightweight aluminum and Maxwell's proprietary electrode, measure 138mm in height, 57.7mm in width and weigh 470 grams. They feature a double-ended design that is available in two versions that facilitate either mechanical or welded termination. They are priced at $92 per cell in low volume, and $54 per cell in mid-range volume.

The BMOD2600-16 modules are encased in a rugged, splash-proof, aluminum chassis. They weigh 5kg and are less than 4.85 liters in volume (420x160x70mm). These durable “smart boxes” include temperature and voltage monitoring and internal cell balancing that give designers “plug and play” solutions, plus module-to-module balancing that makes them versatile building blocks for systems with higher voltage requirements. They are priced at $613 each in low volume and $366 in mid-range volume.

In March, Maxwell won a next-generation ultracapacitor cell and module development contract from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), an entity formed by DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to strengthen the domestic auto industry's technology base through cooperative research. Under that contract, the company is eligible to receive more than $3 million in matching funds from DOE through the FreedomCAR initiative that DOE and the Big 3 U.S. automakers established in 2002 to promote new technologies to reduce passenger vehicles' dependence on petroleum.

Smith noted that, as part of the USABC contract, Maxwell's MC2600 and the proposed auto-specific 48-volt modules it is developing will undergo extensive testing against rigorous auto industry standards for energy capacity, pulse power, abuse tolerance, calendar life and cycle life at DOE's Sandia and Idaho national laboratories.

“This independent third-party testing will supplement and validate the performance and reliability data that we have been generating internally,” Smith said. “The MC2600 and BMOD2600-16 are major stepping stones to penetrating the 50-plus million-unit annual new car market by providing the advanced, low-cost, energy storage and power delivery technology that automotive OEMs around the world require.”

BOOSTCAP ultracapacitors deliver up to 10 times the power and longevity of batteries, require no maintenance and operate reliably in extreme temperatures. In transportation applications, they efficiently recapture energy from braking for reuse in hybrid drive trains, reducing fuel consumption and emissions, and provide compact, lightweight, “life-of-the vehicle” solutions to stabilize automotive power networks and power new, all-electric subsystems, such as drive-by-wire steering. In mission critical industrial applications, where backup power is critical for continued operation or a soft shutdown in the event of power interruptions, they provide reliable, cost-effective, maintenance-free energy storage. In wind turbine blade pitch and braking systems and other industrial applications, they provide a simple, solid state, highly reliable, solution to buffer short-term mismatches between the power available and the power required.

Maxwell is a developer and manufacturer of innovative, cost-effective energy storage and power delivery solutions. The company's BOOSTCAP ultracapacitor cells and multi-cell modules and POWERCACHE backup power systems provide safe and reliable power solutions for applications in consumer and industrial electronics, transportation and telecommunications. The CONDIS high-voltage grading and coupling capacitors help to ensure the safety and reliability of electric utility infrastructure and other applications involving transport, distribution and measurement of high-voltage electrical energy. Our radiation-mitigated microelectronic products include power modules, memory modules and single board computers that incorporate powerful commercial silicon for superior performance and high reliability in aerospace applications.

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