Maxwell Technologies, Inc. and Kromberg & Schubert GmbH & Co. KG, a global supplier of wire harnesses and electrical and electronic components to the automotive industry, have signed a memorandum of understanding outlining terms of an alliance to incorporate Maxwell’s BOOSTCAP ultracapacitors into a highly efficient, low-cost, engine starting system for automobiles. Dr. Richard Balanson, Maxwell’s president and chief executive officer, said that extensive testing and analysis confirm that an ultracapacitor-based starter power node located in close proximity to the starter will not only improve starting performance, but also 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.” Arthur Kurz, manager electronic integration, said that ultracapacitors’ burst power capabilities, cold temperature performance and long cycle life make them particularly well-suited for vehicle starting. “Automotive batteries store a great deal of energy, but must be over-sized 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 degrees, so a system combining batteries and ultracapacitors provides a superior solution.” Kurz pointed out that many newer automotive designs place the battery in the trunk area, which requires running a heavy, rigid, expensive, 70-to-90 mm copper cable the length of the car to provide sufficient starting current. However, he noted that a system employing a small ultracapacitor-based power module located near the starter can be charged by a lighter, flexible, less expensive, 16-to-25 mm cable. “In addition to providing faster, more reliable starting, this ultracapacitor-based design reduces heavy, expensive copper cabling and allows for a less complex wiring scheme,” Kurz explained. “Our calculations show that the system will pay for itself by lowering wire harness cost and reducing the size and extending the lifetime of the battery, as well as contributing to improved fuel efficiency by lowering vehicle weight.” Balanson said that Maxwell continues to work directly with transportation and automotive OEMs as well as other Tier 1 suppliers worldwide to design and develop innovative energy storage and power delivery solutions. “We continue to focus on establishing Maxwell as the leading and lowest-cost producer of ultracapacitor products and aligning ourselves with leading OEMs and system integrators such as Kromberg to achieve the broadest possible penetration of these key strategic markets globally,” Balanson said.