Big-rig truck drivers will soon get a big nix on their habit of running their engines all night long to power their in-cab conveniences such as heating, cooling and entertainment. Without running the engine, their batteries get depleted overnight. So Maxwell Technologies of Detroit and Alcoa AFL Automotive of San Diego are merging their technologies to develop an efficient engine-starting system that will quickly jump a cold engine. “The AFL-Maxwell cold starting system, with its ultracapacitor pack, will provide what amounts to an on-board jump-start capability,” says Allen Zwierzchowski, president of Alcoa’s Worldwide Components AFL Automotive.
According to Zwierzchowski, fleet owners incur significant costs due to vehicle downtime and jump-starting stranded trucks. The Maxwell-AFL ultracapacitor is designed to relieve batteries of the demanding short-duration high-current loads experienced during cold-starting and engine. The ultracapacitor is also built to improve overall system performance and reliability while extending battery life and reducing battery maintenance and replacement costs.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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