Voltage drops and low-voltage conditions are bad news when it comes to system component life on a vehicle.
It’s a familiar scenario in many vocational fleet operations—the vehicle is off, but power is necessary to operate lights, communications systems, liftgates, and a range of tools and equipment at deliveries and on jobsites. The effects of these operations can be immediate in addition to having long-term consequences. Operating at a low state of battery charge when ancillary systems are running with the engine off can lead to battery degradation and possible failure. The end result can be expensive and lead to time-consuming roadside service calls.
In addition, low voltage from batteries during cranking results in much lower bus voltage, and lower starter speeds that, in turn, cause longer cranking time. These two conditions both cause additional wear and tear on many electrical components and are a known contributor to shorter starter life.
A common scenario is the case where vehicles with batteries that are already in a low state of charge, due to use of auxiliary systems, are driven a short distance—not giving the battery time to fully charge before the engine is shut off again. In these cases, the state of charge (SOC) of the battery drops, accelerating the aging of the battery. This cycle of use ultimately leads to the need to replace starters and batteries more frequently, road service calls, and drives up maintenance costs and downtime for service.
Ioxus, a developer and manufacturer of smart power storage solutions based on its widely deployed ultracapacitors, has a solution. The company’s uSTART engine starting system is designed to start a vehicle as if the battery was fully charged, even when the battery SOC is reduced. If the truck’s batteries run low due to accessory loads, a jumpstart mode provides the power to crank the engine.
If a vehicle has not been started for an extended period 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 and ready to start, even as the batteries are drained by the vehicle.
The brain behind the uSTART system is an electronic power management system that intelligently controls the charge and discharge of the uSTART system based on the needs of the vehicle and condition of the battery. Once the engine is running, the uSTART is recharged quickly and is consistently ready for the next stop/start event. During engine off operations, uSTART provides the power to run typical ancillary loads for several minutes. In addition to supporting the start, the smart power electronics in the uSTART module provide voltage stabilization to the vehicle’s electrical bus even while the vehicle is running. The module continuously watches the bus to inject power when needed to maintain a consistent voltage.
Available for OEM or retrofit applications, the uSTART system directly replaces one of the standard SLI Group 31 truck batteries. The drop-in replacement product needs no special wiring as it is typically connected using existing battery terminal connections.
Once connected, uSTART has LED indicators and alerts that notify the technician that the system is activated and ready. No special training is required to use the uSTART module, and all instructions are marked on the unit. The unit is delivered in maintenance mode (terminals are inactive) to allow for initial installation and can be returned there for service. In the unlikely event of requiring a jumpstart, the unit is self-protecting for reverse or overvoltage.
The Ioxus uSTART smart power storage system increases vehicle bus voltage during cranking, which reduces cranking time, dramatically increasing starter life. By staying ready to support engine starts and providing the energy to run ancillary systems, uSTART all but eliminates battery cycling during repetitive operations. This can cut battery replacements in half for many trucks.
Jumpstarts and their associated delays and costs are eliminated. With a press of a button, the driver can engage uSTART’s jumpstart mode to provide the power needed to start the engine by charging itself from a battery with reduced capacity. uSTART not only reduces the number of batteries a truck would require through its service life, but the 18-lb unit can reduce weight by replacing a typically 75-lb Group 31 lead acid battery, saving up to 50 lbs.
uSTART also extends the life of ECUs and other electronics that see a significant reduction in low-voltage occurrences during crank, leading to longer life of those components and avoiding low-voltage cutoff conditions. By reducing the number of batteries purchased, uSTART has a positive environmental impact through the reduction of lead.
Considering the reduction in batteries, the longer life of remaining batteries, increased starter life, and the elimination of jumpstarts, uSTART can save vocational vehicle fleets thousands of dollars over the life of a vehicle.
In an example application, package delivery, stopping the engine during deliveries is required; this saves a tremendous amount of fuel, but generates hundreds of engine-off and cranking events per day per truck. During the delivery, there are many loads on the batteries: flashing lights, CCTV, GPS, telematics, computers, headlights, wipers, heaters, and fans continue to run. This, combined with the short duration between deliveries, leads to a nominally low state of charge and elevated temperatures on the battery due to the nearly constant cycling.
In that operation, done by tens of thousands of vehicles, the return on investment for the uSTART system, driven by reduced battery count (1/2), reduced battery replacement (2x life) and reduced starter replacement (2x life) is less than 16 months.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
uSTART smart power storage technology for transportation operations is part of a broad range of ultracapacitor modules and systems manufactured by Ioxus. Find out more, visit www.ioxus.com.