Maxwell Technologies, Inc. is outfitting a new ultracapacitor electrode production facility that will double the company's current electrode capacity by year end, and is increasing internal and outsourced assembly capabilities to ensure that it can meet rapidly increasing worldwide demand for ultracapacitor products.
"Maxwell has produced more than 20 million ultracapacitor cells since setting up initial high-volume production," said David Schramm, the company's president and chief executive officer. "With ultracapacitor sales having grown by more than 500 percent since 2007, we are moving aggressively to make sure we stay a step ahead of customer demand."
The new electrode plant will be housed in a 123,000 square-foot facility the company has leased in Peoria, Ariz., near Phoenix. To date, all of the proprietary electrode material used in Maxwell ultracapacitor products has been produced at the company's San Diego facility.
In 2011, Maxwell and an assembly partner built and shipped more than 2 million large cell ultracapacitors, and a new large cell assembly line scheduled to come on line later this year will increase current capacity by 50 percent. Large cells are used mainly in hybrid and electric public transit vehicles for braking energy recuperation and torque assist. The company also supplies large cells to Continental AG, a global Tier 1 auto parts supplier, for a stop-start idle elimination system introduced by PSA Peugeot Citroën in Europe for the 2011 model year.
Working with another contract assembly partner, Maxwell brought on line a high-volume assembly line in mid-2010 for its redesigned, 350-farad "D-cell" ultracapacitor products, which are used mainly in wind turbine blade pitch mechanisms.
A third contract manufacturer assembles Maxwell's HC family of small cell products, which range from one to 150 farads, and are used mainly in industrial electronics applications.
The company also has expanded production capacity for its postage stamp-size, 10-farad PC-10 ultracapacitor cell to satisfy rapidly increasing demand for a backup power application in solid state drives used in enterprise computing systems. Previously, Maxwell also has delivered several million PC 10s to power wireless transmitters in automated electric utility meters and other devices.
Unlike batteries, which produce and store energy by means of a chemical reaction, Maxwell's ultracapacitor products store energy in an electric field. This electrostatic energy storage mechanism enables ultracapacitors to charge and discharge in as little as fractions of a second, perform normally over a broad temperature range (-40 to +65C), operate reliably up to one million or more charge/discharge cycles and resist shock and vibration. Maxwell offers ultracapacitor cells ranging in capacitance from one to 3,000 farads and multi-cell modules ranging from 16 to 125 volts.