A closer look at the promise of EEStor…

My Clean Break column in today’s Toronto Star is actually an in-depth feature on Austin, Texas-based battery startup EEStor Inc., which claims to have developed an ultracapacitor with battery storage characteristics that has 10 times the energy density of a lead-acid battery and blows away current lithium-ion technology in all aspects of performance. EEStor also claims it can mass produce its product at a fraction of the cost of its lithium-ion rivals.

Is this the real deal? EEStor itself refused to be interviewed for my story, so I cobbled together a profile based on patent documents filed with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. I also got my hands on an early investors’ presentation from EEStor. While it’s easy to be skeptical with this story, I point out in my piece that Kleiner Perkins’ involvement lends serious credibility to this venture. I also found out that Morton Topfer, former vice-chairman of Dell Computer and Michael Dell’s mentor, is on EEStor’s board along with Michael Long, a well-seasoned executive and current CEO of real-estate giant Homestore Inc. So it seems there are some very credible people backing this tiny, secretive company.

Give the story a read. You decide whether this is snake oil or a technology that has disruptive potential.

8 thoughts on “A closer look at the promise of EEStor…”

  1. Engineer-Poet has more about the potential then commenters to the post ruminate about the possible veracity of the early claims.

    What is discouraging is that venture capitalists may settle for selling the patent to the highest bidder, and, if something like Chevron is the highest bidder, then we may never get to see if the EEStor product potentially had application as traction batteries.

  2. EV World carried your story:

    It’s a consumer’s dream and an engineer’s fantasy: Safe, affordable and eco-friendly batteries that can store immense amounts of energy, allow for lightning-fast charging, and handle virtually unlimited discharging with little affect on quality.

  3. Do you have the patent #s for these guys? I’d like to know more because the use of BaTiO3 as a dielectric isn’t exactly new. I wonder what they seem to think they’ve come up with and whether it’s actually novel enough to create a defensible patent.

  4. The link to the Canadian patent filing is on the post. From what I understand, while the use of barium titanate is nothing new, they’ve come up with a way of mass producing using this dialectric.

  5. Bunch of harddisk drive industry retreads repurposing Barium-titanate (material used in heads) for capacitor dielectric. As for Kleiner Perkins being so smart – they’re the ones who backed the world-changing Segway scooters.

  6. Just as Tyler, I wanted to take a closer look to the EEStor technology and actually found two patent applications on behalf of EEStor.

    The first one – US 0000 07033406 B2 – is mentionend above (as a Canadian patent application). The most recently, published on 9th of March 2006 with patent # WO 002006 026136 A2 seems to describe a further developped production technology leading to a weigt reduction of at least 15%!

    Here an extract of the abstract:”…to provide a parallel configuration of (the EESU) components that has the capability to store at least 52.22 kWh of electrical energy. The total weight of an EESU with this amount of electrical energy storage is 281.56 pounds including the box, connectors, and associated hardware.”

    I just found the patent application and wanted to share this right away with you, but for now i go on reading the whole document (22 pages )

    Greetings from Germany/Rumania

  7. BaTiO3 is used with another material to make a ceramic dielectric so the ceramic material may in fact be new. So it is completely solid state. No eletrolyte to leak or expand. Some electrolytic capacitors use rubber on the botom. That is so that if a high current and or voltage will pop it out so it does not explode. It seems that solid state is the new way in battery and capacitor technology, unless vandium redox cell goes public.

  8. I find it odd that this technology is going to partner with a Toronto electric car company that I haven’t found any car-owners of. Why didn’t EESTOR partner with, say, Dynasty IT, which makes NEV’s that are seen on the road? When I was in Toronto, years ago, I repeatedly asked that electric car company (went by another name then) for a demo ride and tour of their facility, but they declined our electric scooter group’s request.

    On a related front, Byron Wong of Vancouver has equipped in electric scooter with a Maxwell supercap, and he reports that the voltage sag is cut in half, and performance improved. However, the supercap, by itself, delivers only a minutes worth of electric power.

    On another related story, the world’s first electric pickup using only cost-free revived batteries should be on the road in two or three weeks.:

    http://electric-pickup.blogspot.com/

    http://towing-s15.blogspot.com/

    …although we could use some help, as you’ll see

    from the photos.

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