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Maxwell Technologies introduces ultracapacitor-based engine start module for commercial trucks and other heavy vehicles

Maxwell Technologies, Inc. is introducing a 12-volt ultracapacitor module that ensures reliable engine starting for commercial trucks and other heavy vehicles. The new product, designed to complement batteries, was first displayed in March at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.

Maxwell developed the engine start module incorporating its patented ultracapacitor technology in consultation with heavy truck manufacturers and fleet operators. The new product will be sold as original equipment or as an easy-to-install retrofit solution to avoid vehicle starting problems in cold weather or when batteries are drained by repetitive starting or climate control and other driver comfort functions. Key features and benefits of the new product include:

  • Reliable starting for diesel engines up to 15 liters at temperatures down to -40 degrees C;

  • Maintenance-free operation and life of the vehicle reliability;

  • Industry standard Group 31 battery form factor for easy integration with battery systems;

  • Built-in quick charging system (15 minutes or less);

  • Extended battery life, full compatibility with existing battery systems;

  • Green technology with no heavy metals or toxic substances requiring special recycling.

Trucking Industry sources estimate that emergency road service, downtime and delivery delays can add up to an average expense of $600 for each starting failure, and that heavy trucks experience an average one or more such events per year. Truck starting problems have become more common as over 30 states have enacted anti-idling laws that make it illegal to leave truck engines running for extended periods during deliveries or overnight to power hotel loads such as heating, air conditioning and entertainment systems in sleep-in truck cabs.

To avoid starting problems, truck operators often replace batteries as often as once a year at a cost of several hundred dollars per truck, adding up to an annual North American battery replacement market for Class 4 to 8 trucks estimated to approach $1 billion.

Maxwell estimates that the additional cost of incorporating an ultracapacitor module and associated power electronics can be partially or completely offset by reducing the size, weight and cost of the batteries, eliminating heavy, expensive cabling and by eliminating the cost of jump starts and loss of productivity from dead vehicles.

Unlike batteries, which produce and store energy by means of a chemical reaction, Maxwell ultracapacitor products store energy in an electric field. This electrostatic energy storage mechanism enables ultracapacitors to charge and discharge in as little as fractions of a second, perform normally over a broad temperature range (-40 to +65 °C), operate reliably through one million or more charge/discharge cycles and resist shock, vibration and overcharging.

Maxwell offers ultracapacitor cells ranging in capacitance from 5 to 3,000 farads and multi-cell modules ranging from 16 to 125 volts.



It seems to me that capacitors are winning the stop/start battle, and the only technologies I can see competing are lithium titanate batteries or flywheels.





This is like arguing that big MPG improvements are simple\ by just using lots of C-Composites and titanium.

We live in a free market - still.


"temperatures down to -40 degrees C"

This is the top line bullet and seems to be a major factor. Large trucks want to start and heavy cranking amps from a conventional lead acid battery may not be necessary. If the battery last longer, then it might be worth it.


This seems to be a natural fit for super caps. Mass production may take modules price low enough for passenger cars application soon.


And once there's an ultracap for starting, it's only natural to get more out of it by having it do energy capture on braking and perhaps launch assist as well.


There are some excellent benefits to having the caps on board to either replace some of the batteries or to suppliment some of the batteries. The caps are aluminum based and batteries are lead based. How much is pound worth in the trucking industry? The fact that these devices have an opportunity to outlast not just the batteries, but the truck, makes this technology an investment that could be realized not only on the primary vehicle, but also the second and possible third vehicle installation. The batteries used for night time hotel loads could be optimized for this purpose instead of being mixed for starting purposes. Once the first OE istalls these, the industry will wonder why this didn't happen a long time ago.

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