Electric Vehicles

Published on June 18th, 2014 | by Roy L Hales


Maxwell’s Ultracapacitor Cell Is 300 Times More Vibration Resistant

June 18th, 2014 by  

Originally Published in the ECOreport

Image at top of page: Maxwell 2.85 v DuraBlue cell – Courtesy Maxwell Technologies

Maxwell 2.85 v DuraBlue cell – Courtesy Maxwell Technologies

According to their press release, Maxwell’s ultracapacitor cell is 300 times more vibration resistant and has 400 times the shock immunity of its competition. The new 2.85-volt, 3400-farad ultracapacitor cell sets a new standard for energy, power and ruggedness. It may also be able to deliver 17% more power and 23% more energy. I had an opportunity to ask Chad McDonald, director of product marketing at Maxwell Technologies, a few questions about their product.

Chad McDonald, director of product marketing at Maxwell Technologies – Courtesy Maxwell Technologies

Chad McDonald, director of product marketing at Maxwell Technologies

Question: What kind of vehicles are these ultracapacitor cells normally used in: trucks, trains, cars or cranes? 

CM: Because of their high power profile, broad operating temperature range and long life, ultracapacitors have a broad application base. Transportation is one of Maxwell’s primary market focuses. Within the transportation market there are many uses, including a wide variety of applications in automotive, mass transit (including bus and rail), engine starting for large diesel trucks and generator sets, just to name a few.

Question: You mentioned using the 2.85-volt, 3400-farad ultracapacitor cell in “alternative fueled” vehicles, but can it be used in petroleum fueled vehicles as well?

CM: Absolutely. In fact, hybrid and plug-in hybrid buses (diesel and CNG/LNG) are among Maxwell’s primary market focuses for the 2.85V, 3,400F cell. In addition, there is a high level of interest in our 2.85V technology from many of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers.

Question: I would like to get an idea what this ultracapacitor cell does. Feel free to use to any qualifiers you wish, but can you tell me how much less fuel a vehicle will need if it uses this ultracapacitor cell?

CM: There is a wide range of fuel savings for vehicles that use our ultracapacitors due to the vast array of implementations and system designs available in the market today. Having said that, many of our hybrid and plug-in hybrid bus customers have seen 20 to 30 percent improvements in fuel economy with our designs.

Question: How much wear do your ultracapacitors save the vehicle?  Or how much longer would the vehicle last? 

CM: Ultracapacitors don’t have a direct impact on the life of the vehicle. However, designs that use ultracapacitors have a much lower total cost of ownership due to the long life of our technology. As an example, the average bus has a life of around eight years. Designs that use batteries would typically need to replace those batteries multiple times during the eight-year life of the vehicle. Ultracapacitors, on the other hand, last the life of the vehicle, eliminating the costs associated with replacement products and the associated labor.

Question: How does your product differ from others on the market? 

CM: Maxwell’s new 2.85V, 3,400F ultracapacitor has several key advantages over other ultracapacitors in the market today. First, we have maintained our industry standard 60 millimeter diameter cell form factor. This makes the design of our cell much simpler and faster for customers who have experience with our previous K2 2.7V ultracapacitor cells. Second, by increasing voltage from 2.7V to 2.85V and capacitance from 3,000F to 3,400F, we have set the new standard for power and energy in the industry standard cylindrical form factor. The 2.85V, 3,400F cell has 17 percent more power and 23 percent more energy. Lastly, we have designed and tested our new 2.85V cell to meet some of the most demanding shock and vibration tests used in transportation markets today. This increased cell ruggedness is a clear differentiator for the demands of the transportation market and positions Maxwell as the clear leader in this space.

Question: Is there some kind of measurement of the amount of charge the vehicle picks up when braking?

CM: As with many applications of ultracapacitors, there is a great deal of variability in this sort of measure depending on the implementation of the design. In many of the cases, our bus customers have seen their systems provide propulsion up to 15 miles per hour (MPH) before the combustion engine is required to kick in. It is this period of acceleration that provides the improved efficiency of the system and the associated fuel savings.

Question: What standard have you set? What was the previous standard and who set it?

CM: Maxwell has again raised the bar in power and energy with 17 percent more power and 23 percent more energy. We have also raised the bar by ruggedizing our cell to meet the demanding shock and vibration requirements of the transportation industry. With the combination of these improvements, Maxwell has again proven its leadership in ultracapacitor technology and has solidified its place in the transportation market.

(Here is Maxwell Technologies’ press release.)

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About the Author

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the the ECOreport, a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America. He writes for both writes for both Clean Technica and PlanetSave on Important Media. He is a research junkie who has written over 1,600 since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

  • Priya Bendale

    The phenomena Mr. Williamson describes is called self-discharge and Maxwell
    routinely measures this property on cells and modules. The test consists
    of charging the cell to its rated voltage then monitoring the drop in cell
    voltage over a 72-hour period.

    Since the energy of a capacitor is proportional to its voltage, this technique allows
    us to measure the energy content of the cell as a function of time. The voltage
    drop is not linear as the rate of decline reduces with time.

    After one hour, the cell retains about 96 percent of its energy. At the 24 hour
    mark, the cell contains 82 percent of its original energy. After three days (72
    hours), the cell still retains 77 percent of its stored energy. So as one can
    see, Maxwell ultracapacitors retain a significant amount of their stored energy
    over extended times.

    Priya Bendale, Ph.D., ‎Senior Director, Advanced Engineering at Maxwell Technologies

  • Wayne Williamson

    Something that is almost always missing from the wonderful cycle counts, is that if you charge it to 100 percent and then leave it for an hour, how much of the charge remains, or even better, make it 10 hours…does any charge remain.
    These might be useful to store energy when stopping, but if you don’t use it with in x amount of seconds, it was wasted…..

  • Co&

    …which is 3.833 Watt Hours (like it states on the battery albeit ever so slightly different with 3.84 Wh).

  • jburt56

    E = CV^2 / 2 = 3400 F * 2.85 V * 2.85 V / 2 = 13.8 kJ.

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