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July 6, 2016

It’s Totally Magic

Here’s a device no maintenance shop, garage, marina or home should be without. It’s a new ultra-capacitor-based jump-start combo from Chicago-based KBi that doesn’t need plugging in to 110V outlet to charge. It will actually charge from the flaked-out battery in the vehicle or boat you’re trying to start. How’s that for a boot-strap device?

Because it has an ultra-capacitor for charge storage, the KrankingKart Mini doesn’t have to go through the chemical process associated with conventional batteries. It will charge in about 90 seconds and will provide 1500 amps of cranking power.

Sounds impossible? You must understand the difference between the chemical charge process of a lead-acid battery (or Lithium-ion for that matter) and the physical energy storage on a capacitor. All a capacitor requires is a voltage to charge the plates. So the run-down battery in the vehicle that won’t start likely still has a 12-volt nominal voltage at the terminals when it’s not cranking and can build the capacitor charge. The ultra-capacitor in the KrankingKart can then deliver that physically stored energy to kick over the engine and, providing there’s enough battery voltage to energize the engine electronics, you’ll get a start.

Ultra-capacitors are getting a wider play in vehicle starting systems these days. Many of the stop-start fuel-saving modes in passenger cars use an ultra-cap to provide the sudden energy boost to restart the engine when it shuts down at a traffic light, for example.

The supplier, KBi, is a really interesting company. Its claim to fame was originally as the manufacturer of ether cold-start systems for heavy trucks and locomotives. Back then it was appropriately named Kold-Ban International. But as engine electronics and other modern technologies have made it possible to start diesels at ever lower temperatures, the need for the ether boost has waned. So KBi has re-invented itself as a different kind of starter systems company, offering ultra-capacitor conversion systems for military and heavy-truck applications.

KBi already offers a truck maintenance shop starter cart that uses the same technology as the KrankingKart Mini but on a larger scale. This smaller unit is really targeted at the marine market, but it’s just as good for car and light truck jump starts.

Ultra-caps are ideal for engine start systems. They give a huge energy discharge over a short time. Conventional lead-acid batteries deliver a constant low-amperage discharge over time. So on a heavy truck, the number of group 34 batteries can be reduced for weight savings while still providing for “hotel” loads. In passenger cars, hybrid batteries of lead-acid and ultra-caps are staring to become common.

So, in this KrankingKart Mini you have the ultimate get you going package that weighs only 22 pounds, requires absolutely no maintenance, will cycle at least a million times and comes with its own 900-amp cables and battery clamps.

Magic!

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