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New battery technology

John Day

John Day

Posted Nov 19, 2012

During the Battery Show in Novi, Michigan last week the battery maker Exide announced a strategic alliance with ultracapacitor developer Maxwell Technologies. They plan to work together to develop and market integrated battery/ultracapacitor solutions for automotive and other markets.

Benefits of those solutions, according to Paul Cheeseman, Exide’s VP of global engineering and research, include high energy density, rapid charging and discharging, extended operational life, and superior performance in extreme temperatures. He said Exide supports start-stop vehicles, energy recuperation, intelligent charging and other advanced power train features to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.

Maxwell says its ultracapacitor products can charge and discharge in fractions of a second, perform normally over a broad temperature range (-40 to +65C), and operate reliably for a million or more charge/discharge cycles. “We have always believed in the synergistic nature of ultracapacitors and batteries, and this relationship will enable us to significantly accelerate development of products embodying the benefits of both technologies,” said Maxwell president and chief executive officer David Schramm.

When I think about start-stop in particular it makes sense to me that a conventional lead-acid battery can use some help, since (a) cars with start-stop will be stopping and starting so much more often and (b) will have to do so without degrading the performance of myriad electric functions in the vehicle. That is much more of a load than traditional batteries carry now. Combining a battery and an ultracapacitor seems to make sense.

But as you might imagine, there is a lot more battery technology beginning to surface. At the Battery Show the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) touted two demo cars – one a micro/mild hybrid system on a Volkswagen Passat platform and the other a retrofitted Honda Civic HEV.

The VW demo, LC Super Hybrid, contained technology from the ALABC, Controlled Power Technologies (CPT), AVL Schrick, Provector, Mubea, Valeo, and Exide. The car’s 12V power system combines a lead-carbon battery with an electric supercharger and an integrated starter-generator. It’s said to achieve lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy without sacrificing either drivability or affordability.

The Honda, retrofitted with East Penn Manufacturing Company’s lead-carbon UltraBattery modules, was said to show the real-world durability of lead-carbon batteries in high-rate partial state-of-charge HEV operation. The car has completed more than 70,000 miles of road testing in a year of operation as part of Ecotality’s courier fleet. It achieved MPG performance comparable to that of the same model powered by Nickel Metal Hydride batteries – but at a significantly lower cost.

LC Super Hybrid, Honda Civic HEV, lead-carbon batteries, AVL Schrick, UltraBattery modules, Battery Show, ultracapacitors, Valeo, Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC), Volkswagen Passat, Maxwell Technologies, Ecotality, Mubea, Exide, Nickel Metal Hydride, Controlled Power Technologies (CPT), Provector, East Penn Manufacturing Company

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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