Ultra-capacitor designed to replace batteries, help start truck

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. The unit is dry, maintenance-free, saves weight and provides a line of protection against no-starts, said Dennis Flynn, director of 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, with only minimal degradation occurring as the temperature drops from 100 degrees to below 0. The unit has less resistance to current flow than a battery and is designed to crank the engine faster, a benefit in cold starts.

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. If the engine does not start with those three cranking cycles, the unit will be charged back up within 15 minutes by the batteries.