We talked to Pierre Mars, Vice President for Quality and Applications Engineering at CAP-XX, to find out how Australian innovation could soon make drivers' lives a whole lot easier.
was being asked to get external funding for some of their research work, as their budget was being tightened," explained Mars
"The party trick was that you could charge it up, go into a meeting, whack a paper clip across and you'd melt it," Mars
After raising some seed funding for the startup, CAP-XX
surveyed the market to find the prime focus for its technology, and decided to start making small and slim supercapacitors in a prismatic form factor for consumer electronics such as wireless modems and LED camera flashes.
"Back in 2000...as a startup company we recognised that the automotive industry would be too slow moving for us to succeed," Mars
"Instead of starting your car three or four times a day, you are now starting it forty, fifty, hundred times a day," Mars
So we started looking at it, and we also started getting interest in it," Mars
Showing off one of the sample units, Mars
said the form factor, similar to that of a large prismatic lithium-ion battery, allows for easier system designs, and is easier to pack into a smaller space compared to cylindrical cans.
"This has been made by off-the-shelf production equipment that was designed to make lithium-ion batteries," Mars
"That is why we can set up a low-volume line here cost-effectively, because we can buy some of the key equipment at reasonable prices from China.
That's what makes the automotive market attractive.
The capital cost to set it up is reasonable considering the potential returns."
When asked about the potential for competitors to reverse engineer their products, Mars
said the ultrasonic welding made it impossible to do so with the coated foil.
"Assembly-wise, anyone can cut it up and see how it's put together, but making the production equipment to do it effectively is non-trivial," he
"Often we would work with the design team, help the distributor win the design by giving application support to the customer, and then the customer will get the unit made in China or Singapore or Malaysia themselves, and we drop-ship our parts to the manufacturing location," Mars
They get an extra one or two hundred horse power on top of what their engine gives them, in a short burst," said Mars
And while it is possible that CAP-XX
will eventually become a pure IP company, Mars
is keen to keep manufacturing its own parts, and be directly in the market, since it allows the company to engage directly with its user-customers, explore new applications, and get feedback.