I used to read Popular Science religiously. Those great stories about the new technologies were so exciting, sometimes I had trouble sitting still. And the best part was turning to the back where you could buy some DIY kit! I remember there were “lightsabers” and “hovercrafts” and flying vehicles, all available in kit form. I have since stopped reading Popular Science, but I could very easily imagine some of those ads on the back. One might just happen to read “Batteries no longer necessary. Ultra-capacitor is the wave of the future! Cheap energy for all!”. Of course, these are in fact the headlines for an Austin based company EEStor.

So I’m going to say it. I don’t think EEStor will deliver on the hype surrounding them. Even the more recent endorsements from third party auditors, a deal with Lockheed Martin and their ongoing partnership with ZENN motors does not make me think they can produce an award winning product any more than other companies out there could. Part of me thinks there are signs that prove this (explained below) but the other part of me is secretly hoping this is one of those situations where I say something will never happen and then it immediately does. This could be called “self-reverse-psychology” or “deluding myself” or even just “being wrong”, but who cares? I just don’t see it in the cards for EEStor and I’m not the only one.

Oh sorry. I forget sometimes that the only people who fall into reading my blog are my lovely friends and hopefully a few casual browsers. EEStor is a company that claims they have and are continuing to develop an “ultra-capacitor” capable of producing capacitors with extremely high capacitance, thanks to a new dielectric material, barium titanate. But real quick, let’s look at capacitors in general for anyone who might not have the whole picture. (Maybe skip down the page if you know how capacitors work).

The simplest capacitor possible is two flat plates of metal, connected to a DC electricity source:

When you turn on the source, charge flows to either side of the plate, but cannot pass through. In this case it cannot pass through because of the air in between the plates; here, the air is the dielectric.

Ok, so now there is charge stored on either side of the plates…but what good does that do? Well, there are myriad uses for the capacitor in the world of science and otherwise; but in the most basic definition, a capacitor exists to store energy. Furthermore, the higher the capacitance of a capacitor, the more energy it can store. So how do we get that capacitance to be higher? Let’s look at the equation (real quick, I promise and then no more equations).

C = frac{varepsilon{}A}{d}

Here C is capacitance, A is the area of the plates, d is the distance between the plates, and ε is something called the permittivity of the dielectric. So to make C bigger, we either need to make A or ε much bigger or d much smaller. At first I thought EEStor was trying to only find a better dielectric (with a higher value for “ε”), which would look like this:

This shows that the charges being closer together, but in reality, it’s that the material between the plates allows the electric field to permeate through to the other side better than air. This approach of having a better dielectric is actually closer to an electrolytic type capacitor.

However, EEStor is trying to make a better ultra-capacitor. So back to the formula (last time). Ultra-capacitors try to change everything in the formula. To maintain overall size of capacitors, the area of the plates (“A”) is changed by adding material with higher surface area (Wikipedia lists a possible material as activated charcoal). This gives the charges on each plate more places to rest. Next, the distance between the plates (“d”) is reduced to be as small as possible, down to the nanometer range. This is where most ultra-capacitor manufacturers stop. They use an ultra-thin dielectric layer with a standard permittivity (“ε”) and then surround the capacitor in electrolytic fluid. This limits the overall capacitance and the material properties of the current dielectric also limits the amount of voltage (potential energy), usually to around 3V (rather there is a trade off between voltage rating and capacitance).

EEStor is trying to change all of this by using a dielectric with a much higher value. They use barium titanate, which in a powder form has a very high dielectric constant and very high tolerance to voltage. They claim to compress the material to a pure form in a very thin layer (up to 99.9994% purity, they claim), which should maintain that high dielectric constant; however, this is up for contention. If they do manage to purify the material, they will be able to put a much higher voltage across the dielectric without fear of material breakdown, which they claim is main benefit of using barium titanate. Additionally, they use many different layers of the dielectric and other plates in order to create a higher capacitance. Why, you ask? Because the work (Energy * charge) a capacitor is capable of producing is equal to

That means if you are capable of increasing the voltage rating of a capacitor (how much it can handle before the dielectric breaks down or blows up), the work goes up in a square relation to that higher voltage (doubling the voltage yields 4 times the work). You can have a much higher energy density in the device, making the operation appear to be closer to that of a battery.

Alright, so we’re finally at the point where I explain why I think that EEStor won’t deliver on their promises. First, let’s look at what they have promised:

  1. A working prototype by the end of 2008. A fully implemented device in a ZENN vehicle by the end of 2009.
  2. A Capacibattery at half the cost per kilowatt-hour and one-tenth the weight of lead-acid batteries.
  3. A selling price to start at $3,200 and fall to $2,100 in high-volume production.
  4. Weighs 400 pounds and delivers 52 kilowatt-hours.
  5. The batteries fully charge in minutes as opposed to hours.

Yikes. Those are some pretty lofty goals. I’d say the most unbelievable of these is the first one (followed closely by the third). Since they haven’t shown the slightest sign of publicity, there really is not much to go off of. In fact, as a business model, EEStor has mystique as it’s main asset. They could go public with no product and have people bid up the stock price towards the sky with absolutely no product behind the curtain. In fact, the only people who have really stuck their head out to talk about this product is the CEO of ZENN motors, Ian Clifford. And why not? Even if the EEStor product (called the EESU) is a flop, ZENN motors can play the martyr and get the free publicity. But that’s all business. What about the technical stuff? Let’s look at some safety/efficiency/production concerns that could prevent them from making a product that can be mass produced at (relatively) low prices:

  1. ESR
    • ESR stands for “Equivalent Series Resistance”. It is caused by imperfections in both the dielectric and the material that connects the capacitor to the rest of the world. The ESR is how much the imperfections impede the current flow, as the current works to align internal bonds (in both the capacitor and the connecting material). Normally, ESR will not have any effect at DC because it is assumed that there is no charging time. However, charging a battery or capacitor is more like an AC signal (albeit only half of a cycle), and the faster someone tries to charge it (in EEStor’s case, quite fast) the higher resistance will be. This will translate to heat in the capacitor and wasted energy. With the high currents being pushed through the capacitor at high rates, this becomes a safety concern first and an efficiency concern second.
  2. High Voltage
    • This is really the key to the EEStor device. If they are ever planning to have a super fast charge, it will require higher voltages, likely on the order of kV. However, the high voltages have the obvious safety concerns (ZAP!) and the not-so-obvious concerns such as skin effects. Manufacturing a safe product that will pass automotive standards will be a difficult test. Consistently turning out a reasonably priced product that will safely deliver those same voltages will be even more difficult.
  3. Piezoelectric Effect
    • Piezoelectric effect occurs when the crystal structure of a substance is stressed and then releases charge. The best piezos release charge all in the same direction based on their crystal structure. What happens when this box gets compressed, via a car crash? Will all of the charge be released at once? Will a fender bender turn into a ZENN car sponsored fricassee? (on a related, but unimportant note: If we go to all electric cars, what will happen in car chases in the future and they want to blow up the other car? Even though it doesn’t actually work, what will they shoot if there’s no gas tank? 🙂 )
  4. Material/Production Costs
    • The product we have heard about so far, with extreme purity, will require a cleanroom-like setting, a foundry-like setting, or both (comparing it to what I know about fabs). In any of these scenarios, the cost of operation far exceeds what most venture capital firms are willing and capable of supplying in terms of cash. Unless they are quickly bought by a large scale producer of batteries or similar technologies, they would not have the working capital necessary to bring their production facility to a point where they are making enough units to create economies of scale (lowering the overall cost by averaging large fixed cost over all products produced).
  5. Manufacturing issues/Large scale manufacturing
    • Aside from the material cost and the operations cost, let’s look at the obvious: making one of these units seems to be hard.  I understand that they are developing processes to create these products, but the precision required for a consistent quality product could be so cost sensitive that they will drive the final part cost way past the projected $3200 price tag.
  6. Leakage
    • Leakage would likely not be a barrier to production, but it would probably hurt them in their ability to deliver a product with the longevity needed to power cars. If the voltage across a capacibattery is supposed to be 1kV or higher, even with the best available insulators, there will be some amount of leakage (everything allows it). If the car was required to be plugged in while in a parking lot it would not be as big of an issue, but I don’t believe this is the model they are going for; they seem to want to deliver a standalone piece of equipment.
    • Another way “leakage” can happen is across the dielectric. As capacitors age, the stress on the dielectric barrier eventually starts to break down and let electrons through. If EEstor does not properly monitor for DC leakage, there could eventually be catastrophic failure of the capacitor, as more and more current moves through the dielectric; this would heat up the device to unsafe temperatures and eventually cause a meltdown or explosion (exciting, but unsafe).
  7. Efficiencies
    • Let’s say you have a “fueling station” that is actually capable of charging a ZENN car in minutes (as opposed to hours); it would likely require voltages on the order of kV as opposed to 10s or 100s of volts and currents that are on the order of amps. Let’s say for our example that we are trying to transfer 10 kW (10A * 1000V) . Even at 95% efficiency of power transfer (a very optimistic estimation), that means we would be wasting at least 500W everytime that we go to charge our capacicars.
  8. Infrastructure
    • While my friend Nate would love to point out that the energy density of these devices still won’t approach that of gasoline or ethanol, they are proposing a product that comes closer than any others have yet. However, to achieve their miraculously fast charge times and high capacity capacitors, the product will require a charging station as mentioned above that is capable of deliving a high voltage payload to the battery (hopefully at a high efficiency). This means we’ll either need to convert gas stations into power stations or create huge step up transformers for the home. Remember, US line voltages coming into a house are 120V out of your wall socket. That will take some expensive equipment to safely regulate those voltages and convert to DC (another potential efficiency problem). The costs associated with implementing such a system (either commercially or in the home) could seriously hinder any chance of public acceptance.

So for the final piece of this ultra-capacitor manifesto, let’s look at the possible scenarios we might eventually encounter with EEStor. Aside from the skeptics, there are a good deal of people who are hopeful this company will succeed and fully expect it to; this outcome is possible, but the extent to which EEStor delivers will be up for anyone’s guess. As such, I’ve included a complementary predicition of the chance each will happen (in percentage):

  1. They deliver a “product” but it is only a fraction of the promised delivery-Perhaps they have an overzealous marketing person.
    • Chance of happening: 40%
  2. They deliver a product but price it so high, there is no way to employ it in any commercial application for the next 5 years-Lockheed still might buy it. Lockheed’s interest is what got everyone so excited again back in May…but it doesn’t mean this product will be delivered or that it’s even possible.
    • Chance of happening: 55%
  3. They deliver on all of their specifications and price targets
    • Chance of happening: 5%

So go ahead EEStor, prove me wrong. I don’t want to seem like those people that said man would never fly or that there would be no need for more than 5 computers, I just wanted to write an article pointing out the difficulties that EEStor is likely to encounter and hopefully have already overcome. So EEstor, if you’re sending out samples and need a tester, I would be happy to play with one of your toys. And if you (the reader) think I missed any crucial points about ultra-capacitors or EEstor, please let me know in the comments.

EEStor not delivering
Tagged on:             

32 thoughts on “EEStor not delivering

  • November 11, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Good summary.

    There are a couple points that are missed, though.

    First, Bariuim Titanate is not a NEW capacitor material, it has been in use for over 50 years. It is well documented, and is the main dielectric for a 6 billion dollar industry.

    Second, the main technical problem is that the particular type of BT they propose to use, loses 90% of its permittivity at high voltage, so their 31 Farads will become 3

    Third, that dielectric historically, has not been able to withstand more than 100 volts per micron without catestrophic failure. They wish to use it at 300.

  • November 11, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Chris, already a visitor / poster at what I believe to be a very prominent site for EEStor info – http://www.TheEEStory.com/ ?

    If not, “come on down”!

    Not too bad a summary.
    Some errors, though.
    Pricing is up – possibly simply profit, maybe additional expense.
    Interestingly, price of lead, for lead acid batteries, up 60% since those $2,100 and $3,200 numbers.
    $5,200 ($100 / kWh) currently talked about for ZENN, as most favorable pricing.

    Weight is closer to 300 pounds.

    No mention of the 100Å layer of electrically insulating aluminum oxide (aka alumina and, believe it or not, sapphire) coating the sub-micron grains of BT. Unknown, but might well be a very important aspect.

    Ultra-low dielectric leakage – at the kV level, an absolutely necessity, in order to work. Otherwise, poof or phlat.

    Other, similar small misses.

    Overall, though, you’re dead on.
    Lots and lots of difficult issues.
    Even if the science works, not an easy manufacturing task, especially to make commercial / industrial quantities (millions) of these suckers!

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

  • November 11, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    To me, our understanding of electricity seems to perhaps be somewhat incorrect. For example: do we truly “know how capacitors work”? Almost every ‘explanation’ of capacitance insists upon the presence of a dielectric, as if such a material is necessary for the capacitor to function – yet in the real world, there are examples of capacitance without the presence of any dielectric at all. Indeed; early radio engineering was plagued and often confounded by the unwanted capacitive coupling problems posed by the inherent interelectrode capacitances present in vacuum tubes, and eventually the phenomenon was realised as a commercial product: the vacuum capacitor, which was utilised in the high-voltage tuning circuits of many transmitters. Yet despite this fact, no-one to my knowledge has yet explained how capacitance without the presence of any dielectric occurs!

    As for the particular problems of EEStor’s decision to incorporate barium titanate into their product as a dielectric material, perhaps they may have discovered that in addition to being useful as a dielectric, barium titanate is also known to be a good piezoelectric – in other words, there will be movement, and therefore wear. As the barium titanate expands and contracts throughout the change in electric field strength incurred during charging and discharging, more and more of the nanostructures fabricated upon the plate materials will be broken; the effective plate area will therefore be decreased, and over time the overall capacitance value of the device as a whole will be correspondingly degraded. Could this be one of the “difficulties” they have encountered?

  • November 11, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you for the great tutorial on UC’s. You make it very simple for a layman to underestand. I have been putting together a like-document and you have helped immensely.

    I have been saying for months that even if EEStor works, the infrastructure would not handle it. Many of the the so-called UC pundits Poo-Poo’s that fact.
    I think the future of storage is in the combination of battery/fuel cells with UC taking the peak loads and extentding the life of the batts.
    I would like to imform you that there is a new UC Electrode Technology that is soon to be announced on another website. It is EDL technology that uses Activated carbon like the presently marketed UC’s . The patent for this product is in the condolidation of the carbon. The presently marketed UC’s mostly use binders for this process. This new technology creates an UC withich is 10-20 times the F/g as anything on the market now. It is manufactured using a one-step process which takes about 2 hours. It has a superior mass compared to the thin film used today so it can also be used for capacitive deionization. (Desalinization which is far cheaper than Reverse Osmosis).

    The product is called Reticle Carbon and has 4 patents and one more pending.

    If you require further information please email me.

    Great Job!@.

    Jack Mastbrook

  • November 11, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Interesting post. Very well written

    But the bottom line: You don’t know.

    Neither do I. Eestor could turn out to be a big scam. Or not.

    You do, though, have a very eloquent way of saying “I don’t know”

    That is the most succinct summary I have seen and couldn’t have said it better myself 🙂 ~Chris

  • November 11, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Hey Chris:

    Tell us why you stopped reading Popular Science (and Mechanics)??


    Don’t have any time! Now I read blogs 🙂 ~Chris

  • November 11, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Even though I agree with your conclusion, I think your rational is very poor.
    First most of your points are about safety (1,2,3), cost (4,5) and usability (7,8). Non of these are reasons to believe that the technology will not work. Cost is the only one of these that may make the company fail. Safety, is gas safe? No safer than a capacitor. Usability, I disagree with the need for fast charge, people will charge slowly at night, and even if they do charge quickly, 95% efficiency is excellent, you seem to think that is somehow terrible. The gas engine is about 30% efficient. Finally leakage, generally capacitors are excellent in this regard, especially if compared with batteries, but if it does have high leakage, then the product is a failure. The possibility that it can be a failure is not a reason that it will be a failure.

    My reasons for being pessimistic? Mostly they seem to be desperate for cash, which means that existing investors are not willing to pony up more doe. To demonstrate progress they have a second outside expert to “confirm the purity” but he only confirmed that they have the equipment and knowledgeable staff to operate it. He was not allowed to see any manufacturing or product. This is no proof at all.

  • November 11, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Incidentally I used to read popular science and popular mechanics, but I don’t any more. I think I drifted away because some of the articles were about things that were just downright nutty (cold fusion, personal jetpacks, etc.) and I really like to see the science/math/equations behind how things work, otherwise I feel like people are proposing magical answers to problems without a strong basis for their opinions. (Chris, equations are A-OK for future posts). I’m not really blaming popsci and popmech for being a little out on the edge, because it isn’t a trade journal, it’s a magazine for people who like science in a very broad sense. Personally though, I like equations and citations and references.

    It sounds like you think there’s a good chance EEStor will make a pretty big improvement in capacitor production with their methods, just not as good as they might want everyone to believe. Lockheed certainly thinks so. Besides their aircraft business, Lockheed also has a very active satellite business, and I assume that is their desire with regard to uber-capacitors. Care to speak on the usefulness or value of improved capacitors? From my naive perspective it seems to me that current capacitors are already pretty small and effective, so I’m not sure what great purpose a better one would serve in generic applications, but I see the usefulness in cars and the like. Feel free to correct my misconceptions.

    Also, lets not think about what happens when everyone wants to charge their capacicars before they visit family on Thanksgiving or whatever, and 100,000 people try to suck 10kW a piece off the power grid on top of whatever they already have going on with lighting and appliances, etc. Then we really will need Dr. Brown and his 3.2 jiggawatt flux capacitor.

    Otherwise, I loved the post, it gets back to your analog roots and was a good read.

  • November 12, 2008 at 2:09 am

    capman says:

    “First, Bariuim Titanate is not a NEW capacitor material, it has been in use for over 50 years. It is well documented, and is the main dielectric for a 6 billion” blah blah blah

    i don’t think you are talking about high purity sintered BT like in the eestor patents. very misleading….tsk tsk

    did you not see that University of Cali report confirming permittivity results when they used this sintering process with high purity BT?

  • November 12, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    1) First of all 95% efficiency not bad, but I imagine the efficiency will be closer to 93% or lower which is typically the efficiencies used within satellite power systems. But hey, just focusing on efficiency this misses the biggest point in the world — which is if an American spend $50 for gasoline to fill their vehicle’s tank to drive 400 miles each week (in which good chunk that money is exported to pay for the oil crude) and a car wastes 70% of the gasoline in making noise and heat, do you think an American would want to keep doing this rather spend $5 on electricity to drive 400 miles. Net savings in one year on the primary fuel source is a whooping $2340, not to mention that you will not have to pay to repair and maintain that complicated heavy Internal Combustion Engine. Electric motors work reliable for years without maintenance.

    2) Just imagine how much “gasoline” is wasted every time you step on the brakes. If an electric car was design to have regernative brakes, meaning the vehicle could resave the stored kinetic energy when applying brakes then this makes the transport in “hilly” and “stop and go” traffic even more efficient.

    3) If you could save $2340 dollars a year alone just on the primary fuel costs for one vehicle then it is easy to imagine a household with two vehicle with two electric cars would buy an extra EESU for there garage. The unit in the garage could charge overnight (off peak) and transfer the energy to the vehicles in minutes.

    4) EESTORs CEO Richard Weir claims the EESU only loses a very small amount of storage energy. I recall reading something like 0.1% a month. Again, please think in terms of gasoline…. your choice is $5 worth of electricity at 12 cent per kW or $50 dollars of gasoline at $2.50 a gallon. If you charged your electric vehicle with $5 worth of electric and you let is sit for one year are you worried about losing 5 cents of energy?

    Even if the EESU discharge at a rate of 100 times more than Weir’s claim then an EESU would only lose 2.2% of the energy in a week or 10% of the energy in a month. Again assuming this worst case (assuming100 times more leakage than EESTOR ) that would be 10% of $5, and that is assuming the EESU is fully charge. If the EESU was only half charged I guess you would lose only 10% of $2.50. I am not sure what you would like to do– but I would rather lose some charge then pay an extra $45 dollars to fill up my current vehicles tank with gasoline.

    5) If the EESTOR EESU works, will change how we think about Wind power and Solar power.

    6) This is potentially the greatest invention since harnessing electricity. The product EESTOR has could end up making EESTOR the first trillion dollar company in history. It is both shocking and confusing to hear EESTOR say they have to slow things up over funding. My hunch is that the CEO of EESTOR just wants to pick his partners carefully rather then end up in the situation like Steve Jobs getting tossed out of Apple once a upon a time.

    7) The EESU will not explode. Inside a capacitor there is both the negative and positive charges (an electron and the missing electron). Driving a spike through one of these units is only going to release the electrons to migrate to the metal plate missing the electron. The outcome is going to be some light, heat from arcing along with some smoke and outgasing from some dielectric and other materials vaporizing which got caught within the arcing. If you are worried about an “explosions” then I strongly suggest not going near vehicles with tanks carrying gasoline and diesel fuel.

  • November 12, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Joe,

    I wanted to post a comment in regard to yours, as opposed to adding commentary as I did on some other posts. I think to respond to points 1-6 I would say: “I agree”. If the EESU works, it will be a great thing. I did not contest that it would be revolutionary, as it would be. I instead was trying to point out that many of the claims that Weir makes are not likely to happen. As for your point 7, I would say that you might be misinterpreting what I am saying. The situation would not be “driving a spike through the unit” so much as the unit getting crunched in a car crash. The dielectric is a strong piezoelectric material (a material that releases charge when compressed). I was simply postulating that a crash could release some of this energy.

    Thanks to everyone who has read this post and responded so far! Even if the EESU doesn’t work out, I’m sure the interest in something similar will drive the next-best-thing to market quickly!

    ~Chris Gammell

  • November 12, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    bastole, Do you have a link for that permittivity confirmation? When as it?

  • Pingback: Renewable Energy Investing | Chris Gammell's Analog Life

  • November 18, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I’ve been following the anouncments from EEStore for about two years and appearantly nobody has ever seen a prototype or something similar, just announcments. The ZEEN CEO once stated in an interview that he has never seen a prototype and he doesn’t want to !???. Well, I personally work in the technology buisness and for me that seems just ridiculous. If you want to use a new developed device in your products, you try to get a prototyp as soon as possible to run your own test and to figure out the real limitations. For me it seems as if they just try to make money by selling their stocks (there was good example with a German company for that a few years ago).

    It would be great if I was wrong, so, think twice before you invest your money

    (sorry for not providing my email address, but my email accounts get spoiled enougth)

  • December 3, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Great article with many smart responses. Yes, I stopped reading Popular Science myself too. Not lack of time but due disgust to articles glamoring the new weapons systems. Wonder how much money they get from those military adds covering their pages ?
    It appears that one of Cardinal Sins “Greed” has becoming ruling business
    principle at EEStore. Too bad if I am correct because it will mean that Maxwell
    is going to become market leader and more potential jobs are going to be lost
    in US. Ultracapacitors of some kind will be found part of future electric car
    battery system but are any of those cars or parts gonna be made in US?

  • December 9, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    I’m not too well read in the area of electricity and energy. But I did want to chime in on the infrastructure concern.

    It’s been my fear with the moving to clean renewable energy would have a large negative economic effect. Simply from shutting down all the gas stations and convenience stores associated with them. I’ve heard for a long time that the only thing that’s profitable is the convenience store, but if we don’t stop for gas .. we’ll go in far less. That’s a lot of jobs.

    I am rather excited about the idea that the EEStor won’t necessarily be charged at home. Because it causes us to create new fueling stations, and modify the ones we have. Maintaining the jobs as well as creating construction work.

    Secondly, I remember reading in one of the few articles I’ve found that the EEStor has the ability to charge in minutes if the voltages are there, but it will also still charge over hours on your current home wiring.

  • December 10, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I have been following EEStor’s progress for awhile now and really hope they are able to deliver
    While browsing popsi i noticed an article saying GM had chosen the battery manufacturer for the Volt ….. A123 i believe….anyway….
    At the end of the article in the comments section a Mr. Siegel of Micro Bubble Technologies claims to have modified a lead acid battery with carbon nanotubes and a new electrolyte and have increased the capacity by 800 percent, with a recharge time of 10 minutes, and increased the no. of charge/discharge cycles by 400 percent while less than doubling the cost of the battery…..he calls it the CNT battery…..if this is for real it would certainly be a major breakthrough…..a battery pack storing 50 kwh would cost less than $3000.

  • December 11, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    While most of the technical jargon is above me I am astute enough to recognized revolutionary stuff. The pattern is the same. I see something like this…I get excited..at last..something to change the world. Claims by EEStor would clearly change the world. Fast back to Cold Fusion. Again a revolutionary, world changing technology. Do we see a parallel? Sadly, as the dates keep getting pushed back my disillusionment becomes more palatable and the world continues its slide down the vortex of the global warming, pollution ridden, oil depleting, socially restless toilet. Its a wonderful world. Be happy!

  • December 15, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Remember, energy can not be created nor destroyed, only converted to different form. If the “plates” of the capacitor are shorted, all the energy stored in the electric field is going to be converted to heat. The only question is how fast. Since to be effective, the ultra capacitor should have low internal resistance, I would expect any short to begin arcing and cause further breakdown of the dielectric to the point that all of the energy will be released in a very short time.

    52 kwh of energy converted to heat in a few hundredths of a seconds is going to make the evening news. I can’t wait for the episode of Myth Busters where they shoot one of these things with their 50 caliber sniper rifle, hopefully from a safe distance.

  • Pingback: Circuit Board Design (And How It Has Changed) | Chris Gammell's Analog Life

  • December 18, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    OK, real quick. Weir knows that he cant deliver, Zenn knows that Weir cant deliver. This has been a flop from the word GO. My only thought is, how can we fluch out the truth once and for all. Weir has lied so many times. We all know that there is no reason why Weir cant show a prototype, he claims that his agreement with Zenn wont allow this, I call BS. Theres no legal rational for this.

    Famous quote from ol Dick himself.

    “Seeing is believing and the latest EEstor, Inc. press release is the beginning of the certification process and in 2007 our battery will be functioning in someone else’s electric vehicle.”

  • December 28, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    A dielectric is simply something which is relatively good at resisting the transfer of charge. Air & vacuum are much better than metals, but not as good as plastics – they will spark if you put 1mm of air in between two plates and charge them up to N kilovolts. You might require 100*N kilovolts to pass a spark through 1mm of a good dielectric. Additionally, it’s much more difficult to control(to maintain the thickness of) a 1mm thick layer of air than it is to control a 1mm thick layer of plastic.

    Like many things in electrical engineering, it’s a relative term. We can measure conductivity for any substance – but we only call the very best metals “conductors,” while other materials get the “semiconductor” label and still others can be called “resistors”, but most we don’t label at all.

  • Pingback: What The World Needs, Part 1 | Chris Gammell's Analog Life

  • Pingback: Blogging Keeps Me Going | Chris Gammell's Analog Life

  • February 19, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Whether Mr. Weir can deliver is not really important in the long run (10 years). Already, many others are jumping in with similar abilities (nanotube capacitors, improved ultracapacitors, improved batteries, and etc.). The Wright brothers didn’t invent the airplane, they made it more practical.
    We are most assuredly going to be driving electric cars in the future. How far in the future is anyone’s guess. This kind of excitement motivates us to create that new world.
    Zenn Motors is being very smart about this. What I will remember if EEstor fails is that Zenn makes electric cars. Cars that do not care what kind of electricity they carry on-board. Cheap, sneaky publicity is what they are getting! They are also getting people to think about the infrastructure needed to make THEIR cars more desirable.
    Also, on the price of gas/electricity: It is never going to be $5 a fill-up. We need the taxes currently on gas to maintain our roads and infrastructure. It will likely be cheaper with electricity, but not necessarily.

  • Pingback: Are Engineers Naturally Cheapskates? | Chris Gammell's Analog Life

  • April 13, 2009 at 7:15 am

    I was so hopeful about EEstor. To me the Ultraconductor held the answer to everything. It would solve the energy problem and it would come in time. I have reconciled that Weir is not going to deliver so now we re back, racing against the climate change clock looking for new ways to produce and store energy.

    I admire your optimism Ray, but I am afraid the issue now is time. We see what disaster befall us when we have economic blips as we have now. So when really serious economic disasters come along as a result of serious world/climate issues can the scientific community survive enough to maintain the inventive momentum to come up with the new solutions? That is why I was so excited about Weir’s announcements. Here we had the perfect device to make electric cars (and for that matter untold other formats) viable. This would have put us on the way to reducing carbon emissions by doing away with the internal combustion engine. It was timely. Now we are back to the waiting game. Can we come up with suitable technologies in time before our economy grinds to a standstill due to untold disasters. And make no mistake about it. Disasters will come.

    All it will take is one or two summers of seriously hot temperatures in the south along with drought through the mid west and promise for more. Throw in a major hurricane sweeping past Florida creating storm surges that will flood half of the state. Millions of Americans will begin migrating north creating unbelievable social upheaval and economic turmoil. Now multiply this by ten to account for what is also going on around the world. Will the scientific community survive enough to maintain their push forward for new technologies? I fear not.

  • July 17, 2009 at 3:17 am

    While their claims are hard to believe and their likelyhood of meeting them slim…. and their continual delay of providing is very annoying…. their patent shows potential.
    go back to your pictures. stack multiple capacitors on top of each other. this doesn’t give you any benefit yet…. but, now on the layers in the middle evenly remove 50 percent of the plate and dielectric. there you go. might not be as much as an improvement as they clam, but that is the bulk. by powdering the plates and the primary dielectric and suspending it all in the secondary dialectric they increase surface area that can hold a charge. Also, I could be wrong, but I presume that the plastic used probably complements the barium titanate nicely by being good in the areas that the barium titanate is week…… or maybe that is the ceramic coating the barium titanate that does that.
    I would believe the beginning of the journey that is EESTOR started with: “barium titanate is such a great material for caps, but doesn’t scale up in size due to weaknesses x, y, and z. I wonder if I can find a way to compensate for that” I could be far off base though. either way, having the layers be a powder submersed in a liquid (at time of printing atleast) does have payoffs over having the layers be a solid piece of material in terms of surface area and presumably cost of mfr due to more efficient use of materials. and having it really a series of caps stacked on top of each other has to have some lower energy dissipation benefit….
    Oh, I think I remember some other company talking about spray / print on solar cells. so it isn’t like this mfr technique is unique to EESTOR. maybe unique to cap making…..
    and another thing Irelatively new. porous LI-ION batteries
    goes to show, using less material can create a better product.
    “capacity-to-weight ratio of 1,000 milli-amp/hours per gram of carbon (mA/hours/g), while recent work achieved up to 4,000 mA/hours/g”
    Not exactly what I am talking about, since this involves a reaction with air, but it is an interesting innovation.
    In short (too late) no reason to lump all our hopes and dreams of a long range electric car in to Mr Weir’s /potential/ product that refuses to appear.

  • Pingback: I Have A Million Dollar Idea For Free Energy! | Chris Gammell's Analog Life

  • Pingback: The Amp Hour #6 — Open Hardware and The Creative Economy | The Amp Hour

  • Pingback: Jasperated Jimswinger Jobbery | The Amp Hour Electronics Podcast

Comments are closed.