Now two weeks out from a press release EEStor has met the goal of getting under the radar of the media. A quick look at Google News finds almost nothing. Still, the stockholders of Canada’s Zenn Motors are thrilled. Zenn is a “hibernating” company now, as its electric car building has long since ceased. The last Zenn asset is it’s holding in EEStor.
EEStor has been working at ultra capacitor storage for 12 years now. The goal is a very low cost, high density, high capacity medium for holding an electrical charge. An EEStor module wouldn’t be a battery; rather it would be much closer to a capacitor. Old yardstick measures had the modules packing 10 times more energy than a lead-acid battery, at half the price, charging in minutes, and made of abundant, non-toxic materials.
The backers of EEStor are of the amazingly patient kind. Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, best known for its successful bets on Google and Amazon.com has been involved a very long time. EEStor has a strategic development agreement with military contractor Lockheed Martin.
Twelve years is a long time to not have a splash out in the world. EEStor had its following, but now most everyone, even if skeptical, have tuned EEStor out. That is probably a blessing.
We’ve all been shown our expectations were unrealistic and didn’t reflect the many barriers that stand in the way of product development, irrespective of the breakthrough nature of a technology.
The press release reveals that EEStor has its pilot production facility running and is in early final tuning.
Dr. Rick Ulrich , Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Arkansas was chosen for the third party examination of the EEStor modules. EEStor provided Dr. Ulrich access to data and materials related to EEStor’s Composition Modified Barium Titanate (CMBT) powder.
Dr. Ulrich said, “Dielectrics with the properties shown here would provide unprecedented amounts of capacitance per area. The possibility of obtaining ferroelectric-sized permittivities with the stability of a paraelectric material is very exciting. A dielectric with a permittivity of 1000 is considered high in current capacitor technology, so materials with the permittivities reported here would be an important breakthrough.”
Permittivity goes to the capacity of a material. Next Dr. Ulrich discussed the effect of voltage with, “Capacitor dielectrics that show very large permittivities tend to lose storage capacity as voltage increases. It’s long been a goal of the dielectric community to solve this problem.”
“Materials like this would find immediate applications in both signal and power electronics,” Ulrich said. “While there is still work to do in order make these dielectrics suitable for powering electric cars, this level of power storage represents a significant advance in the art.”
In addition to the third party work Dr. Ulrich performed, personnel from System Engineering and Laboratories (“SEAL”), a professional engineering organization headquartered in Tyler, Texas using the following testing equipment including a QuadTech 1715 LCR Digibridge LCR, Keyence GT2-212K, Yokogawa WT3000, Stanford Research PS350/5000B-24W reported the following results. The manufacture date of tested layers was Nov. 27, 2012. SEAL has verified the following parameters:
The data aren’t the best results, but indicate that the benefits of the paraelectric dielectric path are being delivered through EEStor engineering processes and in a pilot production line facility. The samples were chosen to show results with low leakage, some for permittivity. Most importantly, as applied voltage was increased across the samples, there was no detectable degradation of layer capacitance or relative permittivity (i.e.; polarization saturation), thus exhibiting fundamental evidence of paraelectric behavior of the manufactured layers.
EEStor is likely still tuning the production line. Next would be certification of pre-production sample layers produced by the pilot production line. Layers will then be available for purchase by qualified commercial buyers for their independent testing purposes. After layer certification, EEStor, Inc. will work in conjunction with commercial partners to customize and improve throughput of the continuous pilot production facility specific to the needs of customers.
That makes it a near certainty EEStor is going to “disappear” again. Ulrich pointed out that, “There are only 80 people in the world that EEStor needs the attention of at this point, and to get those 80 people to care you have to put out this information. This is a tease, for sure, but enough is there to get those peoples’ full attention.”
When those “80 people” are satisfied and like what the CMBT module layers can do things will get very interesting. Whether or not we hear about it is quite a question, but if the EEStor technology gets into products we will be sure to know.
Meanwhile the lithium ion industry isn’t laying about. Lithium technology has about caught up to EEStor’s early capacity claims with the latest technologies that could be only a couple years out.
But all along EEStor as suggested that it can get to energy densities of more than 1,000 watt-hours per kilogram, something three and four times the best technology of today.
For the doubters and skeptics, the technology march moves to its own drummer. Nothing we say or think is going to change the facts. It looks pretty certain now that EEStor can deliver a very good storage medium that can charge instantly and would have unmatched price, material and environmental advantages. Charging cycle lifetime is another attribute sure to be important.
For now keep in mind EEStor has been at this for 12 years and cannot be said to be some elaborate fraud. Chances are CMBT is going to market – eventually, and we’ll all be better off for it.