Maxwell 2.85 w DuraBlue cell - Courtesy Maxwell Technologies

Ultracapacitor cell is 300 times more vibration resistant

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PM1According to their press release, Maxwell’s Latest Ultracapacitor sets a new standard for energy, power and ruggedness. “The new 2.85-volt, 3400-farad ultracapacitor cell is 300 times more vibration resistant and has 400 times the shock immunity of its competition. 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 (Click on image to enlarge) – Courtesy 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 fuelled” vehicles, 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 they vehicle would 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, which you can also access by clicking on this link)

SAN DIEGO, June 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Maxwell Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: MXWL), a leading developer and manufacturer of ultracapacitor-based energy storage and power delivery solutions, announced the latest addition to its K2 series of ultracapacitor cells. The new 2.85-volt, 3400-farad ultracapacitor cell increases the range of available specific power and stored energy in the industry-standard 60 mm cylindrical “K2″ form factor, and introduces DuraBlue Shock and Vibration Technology, the newest innovation in ultracapacitor reliability and performance. DuraBlue Technology is tested to some of the most demanding environmental requirements for transportation, increasing vibration resistance by approximately 300 percent and shock immunity by 400 percent when compared with ultracapacitor-based competitive offerings.

James Hines, research director of Gartner, wrote, “The high costs and adverse environmental impacts of consuming petroleum-based fuels are driving development of alternative fuels and higher efficiency automotive powertrains. These systems require a source of electrical energy, and batteries have been widely used for energy storage in these applications; however, while batteries can store relatively large amounts of energy over a long time period, they are limited in their ability to deliver high power to a load. Ultracapacitors are capable of releasing electrical energy at high power levels, and they can accept a high rate of charge, making them an ideal complement to batteries in high-power applications.”1

“This latest addition to our widely popular K2 Series of ultracapacitor cells reflects Maxwell’s commitment to continuous customer-driven innovation, and delivers superior performance with unmatched reliability and value,” said Franz Fink, Maxwell’s chief executive officer. “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.”

Unlike batteries, Maxwell ultracapacitor products store energy in an electrical field that is larger than that of a capacitor – meaning ultracapacitors have greater energy storage capacity than capacitors. 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 degrees to +65 degrees C), operate reliably in hundreds of thousands or more duty cycles and resist shock and vibration. Maxwell offers ultracapacitor cells ranging in capacitance from one to 3400 farads and multi-cell modules ranging from 16 to 160 volts, which have proven to deliver high power, whether used alone or paired with batteries, in a variety of applications from automotive or industrial to consumer electronics, transportation and beyond.

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About Maxwell:

Maxwell is a global leader in the development and manufacture of innovative, cost-effective energy storage and power delivery solutions. Our ultracapacitor products provide safe and reliable power solutions for applications in consumer and industrial electronics, transportation and telecommunications. Our 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. For more information, please visit our website:

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

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