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Energy

Jan 24, 2007
Emerging alternate energy breakthroughs

The second huge stumbling block for alternate energy enthusiasts is the storage problem. Whether electricity is generated by wind or solar it is always uneven because of unsteady wind and sunshine regimes. Despite a number of available options, the storage work-horse is the rechargeable battery. Its size and cost make them unattractive. When cars are sought to be run on batteries the problem of quickly recharging them becomes yet another issue.

It is the point of view of electric cars -given the huge market potential- that drove EEStor in Texas, USA to its breakthrough innovation. Cleanly bypassing all manner of electrochemical storage devices - ie batteries- EEStor broke new ground with capacitors. In simple terms, the ubiquitous capacitor is two metal plates separated by a material known as a dielectric. A capacitor can repeatedly receive and discharge large bursts of electrical energy. EEStor has grown this basic principle into a marketable battery. The company is highly secretive and responds to no queries, comments or reviews. It does not even have website! So we don’t quite know how the huge electrical charge, ususal to capacitors, is tamed and issued in a steady stream required by cars.

Richard Weir, its confounder speaks little as in a recent interview to MIT’s Technology Review magazine. They will have automotive batteries ready for cars this year, he says. According to the magazine, “The company boldly claims that its system, a kind of battery-ultracapacitor hybrid based on barium-titanate powders, will dramatically outperform the best lithium-ion batteries on the market in terms of energy density, price, charge time, and safety. Pound for pound, it will also pack 10 times the punch of lead-acid batteries at half the cost and without the need for toxic materials or chemicals...”

EEStor’s products, to be known as Electrical Energy Storage Units [EESU], will start coming off a production line this year. The first EESU will be a 45 kg unit that gives a car a 350 km range and can be recharged in under ten minutes. In comparison with petrofuels, a EESU cars’s running cost will be 80% cheaper.

EEStor’s EESU can facilitate large scale, low cost solar energy storage. While Nanosolar’s work is incremental, EESUs make a quantum leap in innovation. EEStor claims its product is ‘game changing’. The whole sustainable energy scene could be changing too. MIT article

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