Thursday, December 4, 2008

EEStor Ultra Capacitors

The buzz on this particular battery technology is high and is been led by the Zenn electric car promoters who are also providing cash. The details are in the Wikipedia article.

That they are finding slippage on goal posts is hardly a surprise. That anyone makes an issue of it is tiresome. And the creation of proprietary knowledge does tend to drive an over compensation on secrecy.

I seriously wish these folks would pack it in until they are invited to do a walk through in a defense factory and experience real security.

What matters is that these folks have caused something to happen at the lab level and they are now working on perfecting a manufacturing process.

The ultra capacitor battery is important and the apparent energy density is very competitive. It certainly explains Zenn’s involvement who know that it is no big trick to generate a light electric car or as I prefer to call them ‘autocarts’

Even today, the autocart has a very clear niche that we may be forced to mandate and establish in a hurry. It is going to be easier to produce fresh grid power quickly than produce new oil production in a hurry. And an ultra capacitor is a good start for automotive storage. It is naturally mobile although I cannot comment yet on weight. What is described is certainly superior to any known technology that I have seen.

One can appreciate Nanosolar’s silence until they had their tool up and running when you see the flak these guys are flying through.

The point is that they have made a big claim, have filed patents and attempting to convert their know how into a working production line. They can fail technically or for lack of money. They are progressing at what looks like a normal pace.

And recall that funding sources always ask for time lines that are unrealistic however well staffed you are as you leave the gate. In the end they accept visible progress.

EEStor's Weir on ultracapacitor milestone

The stealthy energy storage developer's product is real and will meet specs, claimed passionate CEO Richard Weir in an exclusive interview.

Cedar Park, Texas-based ultracapacitor developer
EEStor could be a step closer to shipping its first product, announcing the certification of production milestones and the enhancement of its chemical purification processes.

The secretive startup has made bold claims for the performance of its upcoming solid-state electrical energy storage unit, yet the company has some significant partners backing its claims, including Toronto-based electric vehicle maker
Zenn Motor (TSX: ZNN), Silicon Valley's Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), the world's No. 1 defense contractor.

Richard Weir, president and CEO of EEStor, told the Cleantech Group his company's certification announcement is significant.

"It certainly allows us to meet present specifications and major advances in energy storage in the future," he said. "It'll meet the voltage, we say that, it'll meet the polarization, saturation, we say that."
EEStor is developing an ultracapacitor which it said will be longer lasting, lighter, more powerful, and more environmentally friendly than current battery technologies.

Texas Research International, acting as an independent laboratory, certified the level of crystallization in EEStor's composition modified barium titanate, or CMBT, powders at an average of 99.92 percent. EEStor said this puts it on the path toward meeting its goals for energy storage.

The company expects its ceramic ultracapacitor, which it said uses no hazardous materials, to have a charging time of 3 to 6 minutes, with a discharge rate of only 0.02 percent over 30 days. EEStor said that compares to more than 3 hours to charge a lithium-ion battery and a discharge rate of 1 percent over 30 days.

"It's all certified," said Weir. "No bullshit in this."

EEStor's milestone comes on the same day that San Diego-based competitor
Maxwell Technologies (Nasdaq: MXWL) announced a supply deal (see Golden Dragon Bus to use Maxwell ultracapacitors).

Maxwell shipped its Boostcap ultracapacitors to Xiamen, China's Golden Dragon Bus for use in diesel-electric hybrid buses in Hangzhou.

EEStor said the enhancement of its chemical purification processes is one of its most critical technical milestones, but EEStor has yet to release the results of permittivity testing, which will trigger the next milestone payment from Zenn. The automaker said permittivity is a measurement of how much energy can be stored in a material.

In a statement today, Zenn CEO Ian Clifford said the news "bodes well for EEStor's completion of its third party verified permittivity milestone and is a very strong affirmation of our investment in and the rapid progress of our business plan."

Zenn currently makes low-speed electric vehicles, shipping its first production vehicles in October 2006, but plans to roll out a highway-speed vehicle powered by EEStor's technology in the fall of 2009 (see
Zenn gearing up for EEStor-powered car).

Zenn has already made three milestone payments to EEStor totaling $1.3 million. Another $700,000 is payable after the permittivity testing, with a final $500,000 due when EEStor ships its ultracapacitors.

Separately, Zenn also holds 3.8 percent of EEStor after investing $2.5 million in the ultracapacitor company in April 2007. After EEStor's permittivity milestone, Zenn has the option to boost its investment to a range of 6.2 to 10.5 percent.

In 2005, Kleiner Perkins invested a reported $3 million in EEStor. The percentage of Kleiner's stake has not been revealed.

"We were invested in to put in a high-volume production line. I think this says we've made some very major strides to completing that," said Weir.

"The plant is going in right now in Cedar Park as we speak. And then we'll, of course, we'll always expand from there."

Lockheed Martin announced its contract with EEStor in January, saying that it plans use the ultracapacitors for military and homeland security applications (see
Lockheed Martin to use EEStor's ultracapacitors). The defense contractor did not release the financial terms of the deal.

Weir wouldn't disclose if EEStor is working with any other companies, saying only, "Once contracts are signed, I'm sure we'll have a news release on them."

EEStor's ultracapacitors were previously set to come out in 2007, but Zenn has since said that EEStor has committed to commercialization in 2008, with EEStor's first production line to be used to supply Zenn.

When asked for an update on that schedule, Weir said, "Good things should happen in a reasonable period of time."

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