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Maxwell Ultracapacitor Automotive Solutions

Consumer demand for greener, more fuel-efficient vehicles continues to drive automotive research and development to reduce weight and fuel consumption, manage continuously increasing internal power loads and capture and recapture energy. While early efforts have proven valuable, more energy-efficient and environmentally-compatible automotive designs are just beginning to come to market. Automotive manufacturers are developing cars with smaller engines that provide adequate power in bigger platforms and boost performance with electrical energy by using ultracapacitors to capture and store regenerative braking energy.

In the automotive industry, as well as others, ultracapacitors are considered an environmentally-friendly solution because, unlike batteries, they can perform reliably through a million or more charge-discharge cycles in all weather conditions without having to be replaced and disposed to landfills. With low internal resistance (ESR), Maxwell ultracapacitors have high power density to meet instantaneous power needs. Maxwell ultracapacitor-based energy storage and power delivery solutions enhance the performance of hybrid and electric vehicles by meeting the electrical power demands of acceleration, power steering, electrical systems, starter system and boardnet stabilization, and plays a significant role in Start-Stop and regenerative braking systems solutions.


Maxwell Ultracapacitor Automotive Quick Facts:

  • High power density
  • Wide operating temperature range, and lasts the lifetime of a vehicle
  • High efficiency braking energy recapture
  • Increase of the cranking reliability in stop-start vehicles
  • Effective board-net stabilization, including high power consumer support
  • Local energy storage reduces cable diameter and therefore reduces weight and space
  • Enhances battery life, by absorbing power peaks
  • Ultracapacitors are green, a maintenance-free energy storage and power-delivery solution

Maxwell Ultracapacitor Automotive Applications:

Maxwell ultracapacitors can be used to complement batteries or replace batteries altogether in the following applications:

  • Regenerative Braking Systems
    Maxwell ultacapacitors can absorb and store virtually all the kinetic energy from a braking system. The efficiency and power capability of ultracapacitors translate to more efficient recovery of braking energy. The stored electrical energy in ultracapacitors is then available to assist in acceleration to reduce fuel consumption and accompanying emissions. In full hybrid or electric vehicles, ultracapacitors can reduce battery drain and lengthen battery life. As an added bonus, regenerative braking takes most of the load off mechanical brakes, reducing brake maintenance and replacement expenses.
  • Start-Stop Technology Gets a Boost from Ultracapacitors
    Start-stop technology enables the engine in a conventional, electric or hybrid-electric vehicle to shut down when it comes to a stop at a red light or when sitting in traffic. Maxwell Technologies ultracapacitors then provide a short burst of energy that restarts the motor. With 100 percent reliability at temperatures from -40oC to 65oC, low lifecycle cost, and the ability to capture energy from regenerative braking, Maxwell ultracapacitors provide the most cost effective energy solution to save millions of barrels of oil, improve fuel economy 30 percent over conventional gasoline-only powered vehicles and cut green house gas emissions.
  • High Power Consumer Support
    High Power Consumer Support is one of the best and easiest to implement applications for ultracapacitors. The short-term power demands, from components such as power steering and air conditioning compressors, that cause voltage dipping can be buffered with enough energy storage to “ride through” or supplement peak power demands. This solution is lightweight and takes little space, is maintenance-free, lasts the life of the car, and performs reliably at -40oC.
  • Boardnet Stabilization
    By using ultracaps the vehicle’s boardnet can get fully stabilized. Without this stabilization sensitive consumers like ECUs could get into a not allowed state which leads to a reset or missing availability of the system when the voltage drops due to a cranking event or any other over load. Compared to batteries ultracaps offer a wide temperature range, low weight and a low ESR even at very low temperatures. Short term power demand which leads to voltage drop can be compensated by a 14V ultracap module made of 6 cells with sufficient capacitance. During phases without electrical load the ultracap storage can be recharged through the main energy source. With such a system a second battery can be saved with advantages in weight, space, maintenance and reliability over the vehicle’s lifetime.

As design engineers have found, batteries have high-energy capability while the ultracapacitors have high power capability. In an optimal hybrid alternative drive system, both technologies could be combined in a way that maximizes the benefits of both.



Maxwell Ultracapacitor Automotive Customer Applications:

  • Continental: Boardnet stabilization in start-stop vehicles

Maxwell Ultracapacitor Automotive Products:

Maxwell Technologies offers the most comprehensive ultracapacitor product line for the transportation industry.


  • D Cell
    Typically used in boardnet stabilization applications.
  • K2 Cell
    Cells are assembled into modules and multiple module strings as standalone solutions for stop-start and mild hybrids or in battery combinations for electric/full hybrids. Also used in boardnet stabilization for very high power requirements.
  • HC Series (2.7V DC, 5F to 150F)
    Can be used in low power boardnet stabilization applications or as back-up storage.
  • 48V Module (48V DC, 83F to 165F)
    Used in mild hybrids as standalone energy storage.

Our commitment is to help our worldwide customers design and implement ultracapacitor solutions for existing and unique automotive needs.



Ultracapacitors for Automotive Systems

Consumer demand for greener, more fuel-efficient vehicles continues to drive automotive research and development to reduce weight and fuel consumption, manage internal power loads and capture and reuse energy that is wasted in conventional braking systems.