News | September 8, 2003

Maxwell Technologies' BOOSTCAP® Ultracapacitors Qualified for Space Applications

Source: Maxwell Technologies

Testing by NASA and Johnson Space Center Confirm Energy Storage Devices' High Reliability and Radiation Tolerance, Opening New Space Market Opportunities

San Diego -- Maxwell Technologies announced today that its BOOSTCAP ultracapacitors showed no significant effects from either gamma or proton irradiation in tests conducted by NASA, and met or exceeded expectations in other environmental stress testing performed by the Johnson Space Center (JSC) earlier this year.

"Ultracapacitors already are recognized as a standard energy storage and power delivery component for commercial applications in consumer and industrial electronics and transportation systems," said Robert Tressler, Maxwell's vice president of sales and marketing. "This performance in rigorous tests conducted by NASA and JSC, coupled with our technical expertise and customer relationships as a supplier of space-qualified microelectronics devices, give us an immediate opportunity to market ultracapacitors for space applications that require extremely high reliability and radiation tolerance."

Maxwell's microelectronic products for the space market include memory modules, power modules and single board computers that incorporate proprietary shielding technology and other radiation mitigation techniques to provide guaranteed life-of-the-application performance and radiation tolerance.

"The annual space electronics market is estimated at over $500 million, and that is expected to continue growing over the next few years," said Chad Thibodeau, program manager for Maxwell's microelectronics product line. "Ultracapacitors that are space-qualified could represent a significant growth opportunity that ultimately could increase Maxwell's space product sales by as much as 10 percent."

According to a paper entitled, "Susceptibility of 'Ultracapacitors' to Proton and Gamma Irradiation," presented at this year's Nuclear and Space Radiation Effects Conference (NSREC), Maxwell's ultracapacitors are candidates for applications in low earth orbit and, with further tests in high total ionizing doses, may also be suitable for applications in interplanetary exploration.

Electrical characteristic testing conducted by NASA measured the capacitance (C) and equivalent series resistance (ESR) of Maxwell's ultracapacitors. Pre- and post-radiation electrical tests determined that after exposure to gamma doses up to 200 Krad(Si) and proton irradiation up to 2 Mrad(Si), no significant changes in C or ESR were observed in the PC10, PC100, and PC1000 devices tested.

BOOSTCAP PC5 ultracapacitors also met or exceeded expectations in tests by JSC's Parts Analysis and Assurance (PAA) Group for use in the International Space Station (ISS) Portable Electrical Equipment Kit (PEEK), indicating that the components are suitable for space applications. Tests to determine the components' performance across a range of environmental stress conditions were: Visual Inspection; Fine Leak Test; Accelerated Life; Static Burn-in; Reverse Bias; Self-Heat via Rapid Charge-Discharge; Over Voltage Pulse; Thermal Shock; Destructive Physical Analysis; and Electrical Parameter testing at periodic intervals.