Auto Electronics

Maxwell allies with Kromberg & Schubert on ultracapacitor-based starter system

Maxwell Technologies Inc. and Kromberg & Schubert GmbH & Co. have signed a memorandum of understanding for an alliance to develop an automotive engine starting system based on Maxwell’s BOOSTCAP ultracapacitors. Kromberg & Schubert manufactures wire harnesses and electrical and electronic components for the auto industry.

Maxwell president and chief executive officer Richard Balanson said tests confirm that an ultracapacitor-based starter power node located close to the starter will improve starting performance and enable reductions in system cost, complexity and weight.

"Incorporating ultracapacitors to relieve the battery of the demanding short-duration, high-current, starting load provides several benefits, including extending battery life, downsizing the battery and reducing cabling," Balanson said. "Kromberg's wire harness and electronic systems design expertise and established relationships with automakers around the world make it an ideal development partner for this kind of system."

Maxwell electronic integration manager Arthur Kurz added that ultracapacitors' burst power capabilities, cold temperature performance and long cycle life make them well-suited for vehicle starting. "Automotive batteries store a great deal of energy, but must be oversized to deliver current rapidly enough for acceptable starting performance, and their ability to deliver such current drops off sharply when the temperature approaches freezing," Kurz said. "Ultracapacitors store less energy than batteries, but can deliver ample current for starting at temperatures as low as -40°, so a system combining batteries and ultracapacitors provides a superior solution."

Kurz said many newer automotive designs place the battery in the trunk area, which requires running “a heavy, rigid, expensive, 70 mm to 90 mm copper cable” the length of the car to provide sufficient starting current. In contrast, he said, “a system employing a small ultracapacitor-based power module located near the starter can be charged by a lighter, flexible, less expensive, 16 mm to 25 mm cable.” Kurz said Maxwell expects such as system to pay for itself by lowering wire harness cost and reducing the size while extending the lifetime of the battery, as well as contributing to improved fuel efficiency by lowering vehicle weight."

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