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Maxwell Technologies at the Battery Show

Maxwell Technologies at the Battery Show

| Dr. Priya Bendale
This month I attended the Battery Show in Novi, Michigan. Attendees and participating exhibitors ranged from battery manufacturers, equipment and materials manufacturers to integrators and infrastructure developers. Although the conference was dominated by lithium batteries, other chemistries such as lead-acid, Li-S, flow batteries and ultracapacitors made up the mix of energy systems.

Battery ShowThe Maxwell team discussed a number of applications where ultracapacitors can play a pivotal role in performance improvement, including applications ranging from automotive (12V and 48V), hybrid bus programs, forklift systems, grid programs and fleet (anti-idling) platforms.

The news on General Motors’ use of Maxwell’s ultracapacitors in Continental’s voltage stabilization system (VSS) design for GM’s 2016 ATS and CTS Cadillac platform set a positive tone for Maxwell. For the General Motors VSS program, Maxwell’s ultracapacitors provide boardnet voltage stabilization during the stop-start event as well as smooth starts and reduced vehicle vibration. Several attendees expressed interest in ultracapacitors’ ability to resolve more than one problem on a platform.

Ultracapacitors are gaining a new level of interest because batteries are not performing as advertised. Due to higher energy density, lithium chemistry continues to dominate across all applications. However, power performance, reduced operating temperature range and complex battery management systems (BMS) required for safe operation of lithium chemistries continue to be a concern.

It is important to understand that, as new features are added onto automotive platforms, energy storage is becoming an integral part of the systems architecture design decisions. Thus, technology adoption decisions are not solely based on performance but largely driven by multi-purpose use and overall component/systems solution cost.

Battery ShowTrue and tried chemistries, such as lead-acid batteries, are also driving toward performance improvement to meet the demands of electrification. As an example, the addition of carbon to battery electrodes is under evaluation. Carbon addition introduces ultracapacitor characteristics (power) within an energy dense chemistry and also improves cycling life. East Penn and the ALABC (Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium) are strong proponents of this technology and are actively conducting tests to demonstrate the advantage of these "ultrabatteries.”

Currently, there is an overcapacity of worldwide lithium battery production. However, volumes are expected to grow with expanding electrification applications. According to a presentation given by Jiten Behl, Principal at Roland Berger, by the year 2025, lithium battery volume production is projected to be equivalent to 3 gigafactories!

High volumes and improvement in manufacturing efficiency are projected to lower battery costs. In a presentation by Proterra, an electric bus manufacturer, battery pack costs are expected to go down to $180/kWh by 2020, making electric systems more efficient than Diesel and CNG (compressed natural gas)!

For me, time spent at the conference was a great learning experience, both from a technical and business perspective. It is apparent that there is a great need for cost-effective technical solutions for the energy challenges so many markets are facing today. The Battery Show was an inspiring place to be and was a reminder of how exciting the energy storage field has become for ultracapacitor technology—from automotive to grid to transportation applications.

Priya BendaleDr. Priya Bendale
Senior Director of Applications Engineering
About this author

Dr. Priya Bendale, senior director of applications engineering, has over 18 years of experience in engineering management, product development and R&D of energy systems and holds several patents in this area. Prior to her current role, Priya held technology management positions at Energizer in Gainesville, Florida, the defense industry, and as senior director of advanced development at Maxwell. Priya holds a Ph.D. with training in electrochemistry at the Yeager Center for Electrochemical Sciences (YCES) at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio; a Research Associate in materials science and engineering at University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, and a certificate in systems engineering from the University of California, San Diego.

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