By Brendan Coffey
All of the movement toward renewable energy and slicing carbon output represents a profitable opportunity for investors. One Green stock I particularly like because it has a dominant position is a product that is used in solar and wind power systems as well as hybrid vehicles.
The product is an ultracapacitor, a handy little electronic device that stores and releases electric energy. The difference between ultracapacitors and batteries is that batteries actually generate power through chemical reactions. Ultracapacitors simply store and release energy electrostatically and thus can be 10 times lighter than batteries and store and distribute energy 10 times more efficiently than batteries without the chemicals that present such as safety and disposal hazard with batteries.
Maxwell markets its ultracaps as Boostcaps, which are the fastest in the business thanks to the patented way they’re pieced together.
Ultracaps are ideal for two applications, one of which is wind. Because wind speed varies, turbines have trouble maintaining a steady voltage flow. Ultracapacitors store and discharge energy and help send out more level electrical flows.
Since 2004, Maxwell has sold over two million units to the wind industry, but almost all to one customer, a German turbine company called InterCon. Recently, however, Maxwell purchased a license to InterCon’s current-leveling patent so it can sell the ultracapacitors to other customers. Companies in the U.S. and China have since started using Maxwell’s licensed offering.
The other application is in hybrid vehicles. Maxwell’s Boostcaps are currently used in New York City, Chicago and Long Beach, California, on public buses, capturing energy from braking and then redistributing it to accelerate the buses up to 30 MPH without engaging the combustion engine. The end result is that buses have 90% fewer emissions and are 25% more fuel-efficient.
Companies in China and Germany are now starting to put Maxwell systems in their buses as well. In fact, on April 22, Maxwell received purchase orders from three of China’s leading bus producers for Boostcap ultracapacitor modules; by the end of 2009, nearly 1,000 buses should be using Boostcaps. Maxwell has also inked a deal with hybrid truck maker ISE to provide ultracaps for future vehicles and the company is now looking to get into Detroit’s next generation of electric and hybrid cars.
Disclosure: No position