Maxwell Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: MXWL) today announced the introduction of low-cost, high-durability, large-cell ultracapacitors designed specifically to meet the energy storage requirements of the transportation and industrial markets.

Carl Eibl, Maxwell's president and chief executive officer, said that the 2,700-farad "TC2700" is the first of a family of new products based on proprietary material science and a simplified design that dramatically reduce manufacturing costs and improve performance and reliability.

We believe that, by the end of this year, ultracapacitors will be a proven, standard option for production energy storage systems for the consumer electronics, industrial and transportation markets, and that our products' low price and superior performance and quality will establish Maxwell as the world's leading ultracapacitor manufacturer," Eibl said.

In January 2001, Maxwell announced its strategy for penetrating the transportation and industrial markets by reducing its large cell unit price from more than $150 to less than $30 in million-unit volumes by 2003, based on projected manufacturing cost reductions that could be realized with its new design. Richard Balanson, president of Maxwell's Electronic Components Group, said that the company is on schedule to meet that target.

No further inventions are required," Balanson said. "We have cut material costs by 80 percent and designed the TC family of products for high-speed automated assembly with standard winding equipment so that we can scale up production rapidly. From here on, it's just a function of volume."

Richard Smith, Maxwell's senior vice president for strategic business development, said that the TC2700 is now available in production quantities, and that the company expects a significant volume ramp in 2003, as transportation and industrial systems into which it has been designed go into production.

Smith noted that the 'electrification' of motor vehicles of all types and sizes is creating significant new energy storage requirements, including:

  • Enhanced 12- and 42-volt electrical systems to power luxury and safety features and provide a platform for conversion of mechanical functions, such as steering, braking and air conditioning to more efficient all-electric systems.

  • Hybrid electric bus, truck and auto power trains that reduce fuel consumption and emissions by using electric power to assist acceleration and recapturing and reusing energy from braking.

"Ultracapacitors' low cost and 'life of the vehicle' durability and their ability to discharge and recharge rapidly, operate reliably in extreme temperature conditions and absorb braking energy efficiently make them an ideal choice for these applications," Smith said. "Virtually every auto, truck and bus manufacturer in the world is developing vehicles with increased electrical energy requirements, and most of them either are considering, or have already selected, ultracapacitors as a key component of their energy storage systems."

In January 2001, Maxwell announced a strategic supply and development agreement with General Motors that has expanded into collaborations with multiple GM divisions, and the company's other alliance partners for transportation applications include Enova, Oshkosh Truck, Solectria and ISE Research-ThunderVolt, Inc.

Smith said that ultracapacitors' low cost, high durability and rapid discharge/recharge capabilities also make them an ideal energy storage component for stationary industrial power applications, including:

  • Lower-maintenance, solid state alternative to batteries for short-term bridging in uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems.

  • Peak load buffering to increase efficiency and reduce the size and cost of stationary energy systems such as fuel cells.

Maxwell's I-Bus/Phoenix power and computing systems unit plans to introduce an ultracapacitor-based UPS system in 2003, and Smith said that Maxwell is collaborating with Avista Labs and several other companies that are incorporating ultracapacitors into new UPS and fuel cell system designs.

Maxwell Technologies manufactures and markets high-reliability power and computing components and automated test instruments. The company's microelectronic products include power modules, integrated circuits and single board computers that combine commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components and Maxwell's proprietary radiation shielding technology to provide optimal performance and reliability in aerospace, military and other applications. Maxwell's PowerCache ultracapacitors are high-density energy storage cells that deliver bursts of high power on demand in applications such as automotive electrical systems and powertrains, wireless communications and consumer and industrial electronic devices. The company's instrument products include automated accelerated reliability test systems (AARTS) for RF and photonic components.