Business 2.0…Big Innovations: EEStor – Sep. 18, 2006 — Sounds like some sort of capacitor-system, if you ask me. This could be interesting although I’d hate to get into an accident and have the device discharge its juice all at once!

You’d think the reporter would do more than discuss this as some sort of scientific mystery. I love the mumbo-jumbo about batteries too. We’ll have to look into it ourselves.

EEStor’s device is not technically a battery because no chemicals are involved. In fact, it contains no hazardous materials whatsoever. Yet it acts like a battery in that it stores electricity. If it works as it’s supposed to, it will charge up in five minutes and provide enough energy to drive 500 miles on about $9 worth of electricity. At today’s gas prices, covering that distance can cost $60 or more; the EEStor device would power a car for the equivalent of about 45 cents a gallon.

EEStor is tight-lipped about its device and how it manages to pack such a punch. According to a patent issued in April, the device is made of a ceramic powder coated with aluminum oxide and glass. A bank of these ceramic batteries could be used at “electrical energy stations” where people on the road could charge up.

EEStor is backed by VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the company’s founders are engineers Richard Weir and Carl Nelson. CEO Weir, a former IBM-er, won’t comment, but his son, Tom, an EEStor VP, acknowledges, “That is pretty much why we are here today, to compete with the internal combustion engine.” He also hints that his engine technology is not just for the small passenger vehicles that Clifford is aiming at, but could easily replace the 300-horsepower brutes in today’s SUVs. That would make it appealing to automakers like GM (Charts) and Ford (Charts), who are seeing sales of their gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks begin to tank because of exorbitant fuel prices.

How tight-lipped can they be? They have a public patent. Patent search anyone?

Background info.



  1. Mark Derail says:

    Visit http://www.PriusChat.com, search of EEStor.
    There’s an engineer, and Prius owner, that broke down the jargon. He read up the patent, so I won’t repeat here.

    Basically, yes, it’s a super capacitor that can keep a huge charge for quite some time, and discharge in a controlled fashion to power electric motors in a car or vehicle.

    Not so different that using compressed air or oil, getting out that energy to power an appropriate motor.

    For use at home, you would need another such capacitor, that can be charged over many hours much like a battery would.
    Then when you connect the two – your car – your home base, the transfer can be complete in a matter of minutes (less than 10 mins).

    Much like compressed air for divers. You can use a small gas-powered compressor for your air, or connect your cylinder to a much larger version. The two reach equilibrium in a matter of seconds.

    Also, as in the P = I * V formula, to get more Amps (letter I), you can increase the voltage.

    So to get 50 kilowatts, with five amps, you need 1000 volts. The is about what my Prius needs to run for 2 miles on NiMH battery bank.

    To get 500 miles, multiply by 250…so either a trailer full of batteries, or Lithium-Ion batteries (multiple by 125), or something different.

    Batteries are great for storing a huge amount of amps, but not voltage.

    Capacitors is quite the opposite. Smaller amps = smaller gage wires too.

    The company that makes Feel Good Cars has stated they will switch from batteries to this system.

  2. Mark Derail says:

    Info :
    The Prius battery voltage storage is 48 volts.
    Thus a huge amount of Amps to give the 50kw.

    With Lithium-Ion, and costly mods (4k$) that voids the warranty, so 2001 Prius owners are doing it. You can get 10 miles instead of 2.

    The highest they go is something like 30 miles with the available space. Diminishing returns with space / weight / cost.

    The compressed air system is way cool. Using a bio-diesel Wankel generator with air motor or electric motor, and voila. 1000 miles per tank.

  3. All-in-all seems like a safer bet than hydrogen fuel cells.

  4. Rich says:

    Aren’t the really high-capacity capacitors electrolytic types?

  5. bb says:

    With a tip of the hat to R.A.H., they need to call these things ‘Shipstones.’

    In all seriousness, supercaps are a growth industry. It’s tough to get energy *back* into batteries; I’ve heard that trying to recover energy from regenerative braking has abismal effeciencies of the order of 1% to 3%. Supercaps accept energy readily, but they leak (energy) badly.

  6. Justin Daab says:

    If I am not mistaken, the reason no one has ever “thought of this before” is that prior to the ability to line capacitors with carbon nanotubes, the size of a capacitor capable of storing the power required would have been the size of your garage.

  7. Sagrilarus says:

    There was an article awhile back on nano-tech capacitors that would have huge surface areas and thus huge capacities. Does this relate to that at all?

    Sag.

  8. faustus says:

    man this is what ive been waiting for… an ultra mega or super capacitor whatever you want to call it… ive been worried we would get some big bloated governement program that would support something like corn or hydrogen that in turn would just put more money in the oil companies pockets. if this works out we can give a whole lota ppl on a very long shit list the finger! if ford and gm dont get behind this they can just stay on that list…

  9. Mark Derail says:

    #7. Nano-tech, yes.

    EEStor simply took the nano-capacitor innards and used macro-expanded it. Thus same chemical composition, thicker ceramics and such.

    The beauty is the simplicity of the design. In engineering, simplicity = success.

    Lucky I’m just in database design…

  10. Raff says:

    I discharged some electrolytics once. OUCH!!!! Three 450 volt over 100 mF cans hooked up in series.. blew a chunk of meat out my pinky and made my arm numb up to my elbow…

    NOTE : discharge electrolytics before doing any work on amplifiers..

  11. xrayspex says:

    I’m enthusiastic about the technology but lest we get carried away. First of all, have you ever seen a capacitor blow up? Can be pretty exciting. A 100,000F capacitor would be really be something to see going up in smoke.

    So to get 50 kilowatts, with five amps, you need 1000 volts

    To pick a nit, 50,000 watts is 50 amps X 1000 volts.

    Then when you connect the two – your car – your home base, the transfer can be complete in a matter of minutes (less than 10 mins).

    You’re still talking amps, and BIG BIG cables (or lots of waste heat). I don’t think 10 minutes is realistic.

    Also, as in the P = I * V formula, to get more Amps (letter I), you can increase the voltage.

    You better throw that E=IR equation in there too. (Or V=IR as the kids say these days.) Somebody seems to be forgetting all about resistance, unless there are some new superconductors out there that I don’t know about.

  12. I forgot about the exploding cap. I had one go off in a computer once. It sounded like a .45 gunshot. You’re right, if one of these blew up it would take a city block with it.

  13. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    From back in my days at the Heathkit service dept I can tell you that exploding NiCd batteries are more exciting than caps, with the added bonus of cadmium dust in the air. I’m not brave enough to intentionally blow a NiMH cell. I blew up part of a car battery once, and other than the acid it was pretty lame.

    You can bet these supercaps will have robust protection circuits. Seems unlikely they get installed backwards or the formula gets stolen and munged eh?

  14. Awake says:

    We have lived in an era of multiple vehicles per household for a long time. If my predictions are correct, that will remain the case, but one of the vehicles per household will be a pure electric that gets you 40 miles or so reliably on a charge, for puttering around town, while the other vehicle will be the ‘real’ car.
    A big part of the problem with living in the suburbs is getting to the boarding point for mass transit. Once in the city, getting around is much easier. I’m really surprised that there hasn’t been an explosion of purchasing for ‘get to the train’ vehicles, like “Vespas”, to facilitate commuting.
    That and mass transit prices need to come down… waaaay down. The BART (subway) in the San Francisco area costs $4.35 for a one way trip downtown from just outside the city. That’s $8.70 for a one day commute. Ridiculous. It’s no wonder the commute legs of the ride are utterly empty.

  15. Smartalix says:

    #12,

    Especially if you put a police stun baton in the refueling receptacle!

  16. astro says:

    More info on ultracapacitor with carbon nanotube (CNT)

    http://lees-web.mit.edu/lees/projects/cnt_ultracap_project.htm


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