Maxwell Enhances High-Voltage Capacitors for Electric Utilities

8/21/2003 - Maxwell Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: MXWL) announced that it has automated production and introduced enhanced versions of its CONDIS family of high-voltage (HV) capacitor products, which are key components in circuit breakers and voltage transformers for the transport and distribution of electrical energy in electric utility grids worldwide.

Dr. Richard Balanson, Maxwell’s president and CEO, said that the company expects demand for its high-voltage capacitor products to increase over the next several years as electric utility grids around the world are upgraded and expanded.

“As a significant portion of northeastern North America recovers from the worst blackout ever to affect the continent, experts agree that the need to upgrade and fortify the power distribution infrastructure has reached a critical point,” Balanson said. “Maxwell currently provides an estimated 60 percent of the HV capacitors used in the electric utility infrastructure in Europe and 80 percent in the United States. With our enhanced products and automated production capabilities, we are poised to meet increasing demand that will be driven both by improvements to the North American grid and normal growth, worldwide.”

Maxwell applies CONDOR, the company’s latest technological development using aluminum foil capacitors with polypropylene-paper mixed dielectric, and impregnated with synthetic oil, to its CONDIS family of grading and coupling capacitors -- used in Dead Tank, Live Tank (AIS), and GIS high-voltage circuit breakers. Lower weight, shorter lead-time, higher quality and reliability and superior integration into the designs of the customer are among the guaranteed advantages of these manufacturing materials in the CONDIS product family.

HV capacitors are constructed with over 100 elements wound in series. For optimal performance and longevity these elements must be identical, as any variation in one element will place added load on that element, and eventually cause it - and consequently the entire unit - to fail. Maxwell is the only supplier of HV capacitors in the world to completely automate its manufacturing process, and thus has the unique ability to manufacture the elements within each capacitor to be identical. Also as a result of this fully automated process, the company is the only manufacturer of these components to perform a quality check on each individual element as it is wound, in addition to testing the fully assembled final product.

Estimates indicate that approximately 60 percent of the electric utility grid employs circuit breakers rated at an interrupting short-circuit current of 40 kilo amperes (kA), with most of the balance rated at 63 kA. Upgrading from 40 kA to 63 kA is accomplished by adding a single coupling capacitor to the circuit breaker, and provides a substantial increase in protection for that circuit. Maxwell’s CONDIS HV capacitors are also used in some systems rated up to 80 kA, which have been made available in the last few years, but are used in specialized applications where there is very high power generation, such as in areas of high industrial density.

Maxwell sells reliability. We develop, manufacture and market electronic components and systems that perform reliably for the life of the applications into which they are integrated. Our BoostCap® ultracapacitors and ultracapacitor-based energy storage systems uniquely address applications in transportation and consumer and industrial electronics. Our high-voltage grading and coupling capacitors are used in electric utility infrastructure and other applications involving transport, distribution and measurement of high voltage electrical energy. Our radiation-mitigated microelectronic products include power modules, memory modules and single board computers that primarily address applications in aerospace.

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