Ultracapacitor Drop in Battery Replacement for Trucks

March 29, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

Ioxus, Inc. announced that the uSTART™ engine starting system is now being offered as the industry's only drop-in replacement product that needs no special wiring. The Ioxus ultracapacitor-based product is designed to do all of the things that competitive products do not, such as increasing the vehicle bus voltage by greater than 10% during crank, reducing cranking time for more than 20%, reduce peak current to the starter by more than 15%, reduce the cycling seen by the battery by more than 40%, increasing starter life by more than 30%, and provide a built-in jump start system that will allow users to charge the capacitor from adjacent "dead" batteries and eliminate stranded trucks. All without any special wiring—simply drop-in uSTART in place of an existing battery.

The uSTART system from Ioxus is a two-terminal product, eliminating the rewiring required by competitive engine start modules. One of the existing Lead Acid or AGM Group 31 batteries can be replaced by the uSTART via simple drop-in and reconnect terminals. This replacement of a battery also reduces weight over an AGM battery by up to 50 pounds.

The goal of the uSTART system is to provide the vehicle with a start, no matter the condition of the existing batteries or external temperature. If the batteries run too low due to accessory loads or aging Lead Acid batteries, the operator can press a button to enable a jump-start mode, thus allowing the capacitor-based system to collect energy from the batteries, and the uSTART system will provide the energy to get the vehicle's bus voltage up to 12.5V, then provide the power the crank the engine and start. This will eliminate costly jump-starts on the road and in remote locations, saving thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle.

By helping to boost the battery's voltage during crank, uSTART provides unsurpassed starting reliability. This reliability in starting is displayed by increased reliability of the starter, as the starter will see a consistent delivery of power. This consistent power prevents low voltage cranks, which reduces temperatures at the starter. Extending beyond the starter, the ECUs and other electronics will see a significant reduction in low-voltage occurrences, leading to longer component life.

The smart power electronics in the uSTART module provide voltage stabilization to the vehicle's electrical bus. The module continuously watches the bus to inject power when needed to maintain a smooth voltage.

To solve problems associated with a vehicle not being started for extended periods of time, the uSTART module will automatically detect a lack of activity and place itself into standby mode. This enables the capacitors to remain charged, even if the batteries go flat, to allow the vehicle to crank and start, preventing a need for a jump start.

The uSTART was designed with safety in mind, including safety features only offered by Ioxus. The unit can be placed into maintenance mode, and allow for initial installation as well as external vehicle jump starting, without removing the capacitor-based system or unhooking any connections. No special training is required to use the Ioxus uSTART module, and all instructions are marked on the unit.

The field-proven uSTART gives truck and fleet operators assurance their engines will start reliably, especially for operations with up to 200 starts and stops per day, including those that use the lift gate or other auxiliary battery-powered equipment while the truck is off. Additionally, the ultracapacitor supports hotel loads for short periods – lights, and other in-cab devices – which drain power during extended use.

Mark McGough, CEO and President of Ioxus, said, "One of the features I find amazing about our product is that uSTART can literally start your truck even when every battery onboard is dead! Fleet owners and operators will be able to benefit from the reliable performance of the uSTART in providing reliable starting for on-time deliveries and improved uptime in cold temperatures down to -40 to +85 degrees Celsius."