New DuraBlue ultracaps from Maxwell increase shock and vibration tolerance, energy and power capacity
11 June 2014
|DuraBlue cell. Click to enlarge.|
Maxwell Technologies, Inc. has introduced its new DuraBlue Shock and Vibration Technology with the latest addition to its K2 series of ultracapacitor cells. The new 2.85-volt, 3400-farad DuraBlue ultracapacitor cell increases the range of available specific power by 17% and stored energy by 23% in the industry-standard 60 mm cylindrical “K2” form factor. The new cells offer up to 1,000,000 duty cycles, with up to 18 kW/kg of specific power and up to 4.00 Wh of stored energy. The cells offer threaded terminals or laser-weldable posts.
The DuraBlue cell also increases vibrational resistance by approximately 300% and shock immunity by 400% when compared to ultracapacitor-based competitive offerings. This enhanced shock and vibration tolerance is particularly important in the transportation market—especially mass transit—and in developing markets in which the road infrastructure might not be quite as smooth as in more developed ones, noted Chad McDonald, director of product marketing.
In addition, McDonald observed, although the new DuraBlue cell carries about a 10% price premium compared to its predecessor (2.75V, 3000 farad), the increased energy density allows fewer cells to be used for equivalent performance, taking cost out of the large packs used in applications such as buses, in which packs can run upward of 300 cells. In other words, added Rick Roth, senior product manager, on an energy storage basis, the new cell offers a lower price per Wh.
The ultracapacitor industry is relatively young, and volumes in certain applications have just started to ramp over the last three to four years. One of the first industries where Maxwell has had substantial success is in the mass transit hybrid bus market. We have learned a lot as we ramped volumes. One of the things we learned in transportation, especially in mass transit, is that shock and vibration are big issues. The placement of the ultracapacitors in these buses exposes them to a vibration profile that exceeds what we had expected.—Chad McDonald
Shock and vibration issues on truck applications are also high, noted Roth, not just in the cab, but also the body. DuraBlue is specifically designed to withstand those more rigorous requirements of different industries.
We have a good positon in the bus market, but are seeing more competition. Therefore, we think that this additional vibration tolerance will give us a very defensible position. With this technology, we are the only cell that mets these new shock and vibration tolerances. to support the bus industry.—Chad McDonald
DuraBlue has two main elements. First is the cell fabrication process itself. Maxwell, unlike other vendors, uses a dry electrode process. One of the benefits of the dry process versus the wet process is the resulting durability and longevity of cells, McDonald said.
The second aspect has to do with the ways the cells are mechanically constructed and assembled. The new mechanical design enables the cell to be shaken and vibrated much more than its predecessors. Based on the analysis of points of failure in cells that did fail, Maxwell engineers devised a number of different proposals and solutions to address those, then went through design, testing and validation. The result, the details of which Maxwell is holding closely, enables the hightened shock and vibration tolerances as well as enhanced electrical performance.
Our new DuraBlue Advanced Shock and Vibration Technology combines Maxwell’s unique and patented dry electrode formation and manufacturing process with a robust proprietary cell structure design to meet or exceed the most demanding shock and vibration requirements of the growing number of power-hungry applications in global transportation markets.—Franz Fink, Maxwell’s CEO
In addition to targeting deeper penetration of its existing markets with the more durable, higher power and energy cells, Maxwell thinks the new cell will open up new markets due to the lower cost of ownership. Grid energy storage is one such promising market in which the higher power and energy profile of the new cells could prove attractive, McDonald suggested.
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