Ultra-capacitor for truck starts

Maxwell Technologies will market a device later this year called an ultra-capacitor that will replace one or two truck batteries and help start a truck, the company announced Thursday, March 31, in Louisville.

The unit is dry, maintenance-free, saves weight and provides protection against no-starts, said Dennis Flynn, director marketing research and brand communications.

The ultra-capacitor stores electricity on metal plates rather than through a chemical process used in batteries, making it less sensitive to cold temperatures. Flynn said only minimal degradation occurs as the temperature drops from 100 degrees to below 0. The unit has considerably less resistance to current flow than a battery, and thus will crank the engine substantially faster, a benefit in cold starts, he said.
The unit stores enough energy for three potent cranking cycles of about four seconds. For charging purposes, it is connected to batteries through a small cable. And, even if the engine does not start with those three cranking cycles, the unit will be charged back up within 15 minutes by the batteries.

The device will sell for $1,200 to $1,500. Flynn said the cost will be offset by greatly increasing the life of remaining batteries, as well as possible preventing a road call.

Flynn added that Maxwell also plans to work with battery manufacturers to produce a combination of deep cycle or general purpose batteries that will complement the ultra-capacitor.

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