But skepticism in the research community is high. At the EESU’s core is a ceramic material consisting of a barium titanate powder that is coated with aluminum oxide and a type of glass material. At a materials-research conference earlier this year in San Francisco, it was asked whether such an energy-storage device was possible. “The response was not very positive,” said one engineering professor who attended the conference.
Many have questioned EEStor’s claims, pointing out that the high voltages needed to approach the targeted energy storage would cause the material to break down and the storage device to short out. There would be little tolerance for impurities or imprecision–something difficult to achieve in a high-volume manufacturing setting, skeptics say. Laptop Battery Laptop Battery Laptop Battery Laptop Battery Laptop Battery
But Weir is dismissive of such reactions. “EEStor is not hyping,” he says. Representatives of the company said in a press release that certification data proves that voltage breakdown of the aluminum oxide occurs at 1,100 volts per micron–nearly three times higher than EEStor’s target of 350 volts. “This provides the potential for excellent protection from voltage breakdown,” the company said.
Jeff Dahn, a professor of advanced materials in the chemistry and physics departments at Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, Canada, says the data suggests that EEStor has developed an “amazingly robust” material. “If you’re going to have a one-micron dielectric, it’s got to be pretty pure,” he says.
Ian Clifford, CEO of ZENN Motor, says that the news “bodes well” for EEStor’s next milestone: third-party verification that the powders achieve the desired high level of permittivity, which will help determine whether the materials can meet the company’s energy-storage goals.
Weir says that EEStor’s latest production milestones lay the foundation for what follows. It has taken longer than originally expected, he says, but the company is now in a position to deploy more-advanced technologies for the production of military-grade applications, alluding to EEStor’s partnership with Lockheed Martin.
Weir says that momentum is building and that he’ll start coming out with information about the company’s progress on a “more rapid basis.” Plans are also under way for a major expansion of EEStor’s production lines. “There’s nothing complex in this,” he says, pointing to his past engineering days at IBM. “It’s nowhere near the complexity of disk-drive fabrication.”Dell NF343 battery Dell D5318 battery Dell G5260 battery Dell Inspiron 9200 battery Dell Latitude C500 battery
Despite its critics, EEStor has won support from some significant corners. In addition to Lockheed Martin, venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is an investor, and former Dell Computer chairman Morton Topfer sits on EEStor’s board.
The company is also in serious talks with potential partners in the solar and wind industry, where EEStor’s technology can, according to Weir, help put 45 percent more energy into the grid. He says that the company is working toward commercial production “as soon as possible in 2009,” although when asked, he gave no specific date. “I’m not going to make claims on when we’re going to get product out there. That’s between me and the customer. I don’t want to tell the industry.”
Dahn says that he hopes EEStor will succeed. “I hope it works like a charm, because it will be a lot easier than fuel cells and batteries if it comes to pass.”
A secretive Texas startup developing what some are calling a “game changing” energy-storage technology broke its silence this week. It announced that it has reached two production milestones and is on track to ship systems this year for use in electric vehicles.
EEStor’s ambitious goal, according to patent documents, is to “replace the electrochemical battery” in almost every application, from hybrid-electric and pure-electric vehicles to laptop computers to utility-scale electricity storage.Dell HD438 Battery Dell GK479 battery Dell PC764 battery Dell KD476 Battery Dell Inspiron 1150 battery
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, according to the company.
The implications are enormous and, for many, unbelievable. Such a breakthrough has the potential to radically transform a transportation sector already flirting with an electric renaissance, improve the performance of intermittent energy sources such as wind and sun, and increase the efficiency and stability of power grids–all while fulfilling an oil-addicted America’s quest for energy security.
The breakthrough could also pose a threat to next-generation lithium-ion makers such as Watertown, MA-based A123Systems, which is working on a plug-in hybrid storage system for General Motors, and Reno, NV-based Altair Nanotechnologies, a supplier to all-electric vehicle maker Phoenix Motorcars.
“I get a little skeptical when somebody thinks they’ve got a silver bullet for every application, because that’s just not consistent with reality,” says Andrew Burke, an expert on energy systems for Dell inspiron 8500 battery Dell Inspiron 4100 battery Dell Inspiron 4000 battery transportation at University of California at Davis. Laptop Battery acer Laptop Battery
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That said, Burke hopes to be proved wrong. “If [the] technology turns out to be better than I think, that doesn’t make me sad: it makes me happy.”
Richard Weir, EEStor’s cofounder and chief executive, says he would prefer to keep a low profile and let the results of his company’s innovation speak for themselves. “We’re well on our way to doing everything we said,” Weir told Technology Review in a rare interview. He has also worked as an electrical engineer at computing giant IBM and at Michigan-based automotive-systems leader TRW.
Much like capacitors, ultracapacitors store energy in an electrical field between two closely spaced conductors, or plates. When voltage is applied, an electric charge builds up on each plate.