EEStor, the now famed ultracapacitor maker of the future is one step closer to having a product coming to market. Last week saw information escape that EEStor has contracted with Polarity of Rancho Cordova, California to design and specify the construction details of the ultracapacitor’s power converter. A power converter would ideally provide a combined capacitor and controller set to deliver steady electrical energy at optimal voltage and amperage.
The power converter would be effectively a transformer, a device that steps down the ultracapacitor’s high voltage to a lower voltage that can be used in motors and other devices. Reports have it that the EEStor capacitor’s voltage peak is about 35 to 37 hundred volts, much more than electric motors are currently designed to cope with. Although high voltage allows smaller wires, lighter weights, and other attributes, insulating for high volts has it own issues such as more dimensional needs meaning a larger physical size, voltage insulation that can contain the “pressure” as high voltage much more easily jumps away to grounds, penetrates insulation, and can heat conductors very quickly.
The power converter speculation is supposed to reduce the voltage to the more familiar 600-volt range. Many insulation types can deal with voltages in that range at low cost and the dimensional issue nears optimal with today’s technology. At to 400 to 600 volt range, particularly using alternating current very high power output can come from very small packages.
This writer is also assuming that Polarity will offer the power converter with an internal method of providing steady output voltage from capacitors that one expects have voltage drop as they are drained. Thus the transformer inside would be a variable type that adjusts to the available voltage while the load voltage is a constant.
Some sites are crediting Polarity’s photos, links and products to the EEStor contract. Those assumptions are certain to be in error, even if interesting. A little closer reading of the Polarity site makes clear that the products on hand have existing markets. Most products have generator or battery input voltages; no mention is easily seen of ultracapacitor input products. As noted the voltage decline will entail certain design modifications to extract the maximum available charge.
Meanwhile snoopy reports have it that EEStor will prove publicly the capabilities of their technology before the end of September 2009. The context of these, blogs, hypetype news media, etc. tend to overstate the ‘proving” but EEStor may well have announcements in that area.
Factually though the whole thing is based on Polarity’s tight acknowledgment saying on their site, “Awarded contract from EESTOR to integrate Polarity’s high power HV to LV converter into EESTOR’s EESU that will be used in Zenn Motor Company’s small to medium size electric car.” EESU would be “electrical energy storage unit.”
It seems to be time for those seriously interested in electron storage to come up to speed with EEStor. This is a link to a transcript of Mr Weir, of EEStor and Tyler Hamilton, senior energy reporter and columnist for the Toronto Star. Significantly, at 14:04 where Weir says,
“We’ve taken those specifications to our circuits company that builds our circuits for us. A company called Polarity. They’re out of California. ZENN has gone there and came back very impressed. I was lead to them by the Air Force Research Labs because they’re so effective in building high performance converter circuits for them. However there are multitudes of companies around the world that could build these circuits in high volume. But, I got started with them so … they’re building our circuits right now. They’re actually putting the ZENN circuits together literally as we speak. I’ll be going out there, if not next week the following week after that to have a long session with them to talk about getting the parts in here quickly so I can not only do … I don’t want to stop and build circuits for component testing I want to use their circuits for full EESU testing. Which is also component testing. So I kill 2 birds with 1 stone there. And get that in here and get that tested and get UL in here start looking at it. So, that’s going quite well.”
Of major note, Weir is suggesting that UL aka Underwriters Laboratories has been invited in to start their process. Things are much further along than thought.
While much is made of the impact the EEStor device might make across the whole of the electric spectrum Weir reminds us at 24.28 that:
“You can take the grids of the world and put our batteries on it and charge ’em at night and dump ’em during the day. Well known fact you can put 45% more electricity on the grid and do nothing more than put our batteries on there.”
This could be a very advantageous development for consumers when peak demand generation has serious competition.