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New supercapacitor surge protector hits the market

16 February 2015

Nihal Kularatna
Nihal Kularatna

University of Waikato Electrical Engineering Senior Lecturer Nihal Kularatna with his new supercapacitor-based surge protector, which is now on the market.

A supercapacitor-based surge protector, the S-TViQ, invented by University of Waikato Electrical Engineering Senior Lecturer Nihal Kularatna, has made it to commercialisation.

Enhanced surge protection technology

Following a three-year research and development partnership, a license deal has been established with Thor Technologies, an Australian manufacturer of power protection and management products. Thor worked with the University of Waikato and WaikatoLink to develop and commercialise the supercapacitor-based surge protection product, which is now on the market.

Mr Kularatna's enhanced surge protection technology emerged as one of three winning ideas in the WaikatoLink 2010 Jumpstart competition.

WaikatoLink CEO Duncan Mackintosh says the new technology is an excellent example of the value that can be created from strong partnerships between the University, WaikatoLink and industry.

"The results of Nihal's research have been mutually beneficial for all involved."

While working on the project, Mr Kularatna discovered that unlike existing surge absorption products that have a limited lifetime which degrade with every surge, supercapacitors can absorb countless power surges without any degradation. He went on to develop a supercapacitor-based circuit with the potential to offer longer lifetime components and superior surge protection than existing products.

"As electronic circuits become more sophisticated, consumer electronic products are becoming more sensitive to power issues such as high voltage surges and spikes," he says. "The S-TViQ is like an electronic shock absorber and can be used for devices such as desktops computers, tablets, TVs and cash registers."

Lifelong interest protecting electrical equipment

Mr Kularatna was born and brought up in Sri Lanka, which he says is a lightning-prone country.

"I saw a lot of damage done to electrical and electronic equipment in home and work environments, so finding a way to protect this type of equipment from transient surges in power has been a lifelong interest of mine."

Thor Technologies Managing Director George Forster-Jones says the company was excited to launch the Smart TViQ.

"It's a unique new surge protector that uses SC technology as a revolutionary new surge absorption component. Sales are already progressing well and early market feedback has been exceptionally positive."

Nihal Kularatna was named 2013 New Zealand Engineering Innovator of the Year at the New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards, recognising his work in the field of power electronics during his career which spans 38 years.

Find out more information on the S-TViQ.