Every Wednesday, R&D Magazine will feature a R&D 100 Flashback, chosen from our R&D 100 archive of winners. This week’s flashback is Maxwell Technologies Inc.’s Engine Start Module (ESM), which won an R&D 100 Award in 2012. More than four million medium-duty and heavy-duty (MD/HD) trucks are now operating in the U.S., consuming more than 53 billion gallons of fuel annually. In most MD/HD Class 6 to 8 trucks, the entire electrical system derives power from a bank of two to four 12-V batteries connected in parallel. These batteries, which must start the vehicle and provide power to all other vehicle electronic systems, are typically based on lead-acid or absorbent glass-mat technologies, and they store energy by means of a chemical reaction. The Engine Start Module (ESM) is a 12-V starting module that adopts a new approach to electrical energy storage.
Q: Briefly describe your winning technology.
A: The Maxwell Technologies Inc. Engine Start Module (ESM) solves a variety of problems facing commercial MD/HD truck drivers and commercial fleet operators every day by providing:
- Hundreds of thousands of reliable cranks to the starter.
- Reduced electrical loads on the truck batteries.
- Quick recharging capability, even from partially discharged batteries.
- Peace of mind for compliance with anti-idle regulations.
- Excellent extreme weather performance (-40 C to 65 C).
- Low total cost of ownership.
The ESM’s sole purpose is to provide the starting power necessary to crank the MD/HD truck engine without stressing or draining the available power in the truck batteries.
Q: What made your winning technology better than what already existed?
A: Maxwell’s ESM uses the company’s patented Ultracapacitor technology to provide the power required to start large diesel engines under conditions where batteries may normally fail. The expense of calling for a jump start and costs of late pickups and deliveries easily justifies the return on investment for commercial fleets and owner/operators. Today, we have over 5,000 ESMs installed nationwide solving starting issues.
Q: How important was your winning technology to its end application?
A: Maxwell has been producing Ultracapacitors for over 20 years, but the ESM was the first commercial product targeted at a specific market segment. We are also qualifying with all the major North American Heavy Duty Truck manufacturers, and Kenworth (a PACCAR company) was the first to announce the availability of the ESM as an option on new T680 and T880 model trucks in March 2015. We expect other new truck manufacturers to provide similar offerings once their evaluations are complete.
Q: Have you changed your winning product since you won the R&D 100 Award?
A: We have a continuous product improvement program in place and are now producing our third-generation design. The ESM is now branded as the ULTRA 31/1800, which is short for Ultracapacitor, Group 31 BCI form factor, and 1800 Cranking Amps. We have also introduced three new products; the ULTRA 31/900 for smaller diesel engines delivering 900 cranking amps, and two 24-V versions, the ULTRA 31/900/24V and the ULTRA 31/1100/24V for use in construction and off-road equipment, as well as heavy-duty starting applications in Europe and Asia.
Q: What value did winning an R&D 100 Award provide to you and your organization?
A: The R&D 100 Award provided initial, unbiased market validation of the ESM, and the marketing opportunities helped Maxwell to increase sales and gain recognition with the truck manufacturers.
• CONFERENCE AGENDA ANNOUNCED:
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