Monday, October 26, 2009

EEstor and the Holy Grail Ultracapacitor


and the Holy Grail

of Ultracapacitors

EEStor Inc. is a private (very private indeed - it is said secretive even) company based in Texas. It was founded in 2001 by Richard Weir and Carl Nelson. EEstor has just announced that it is about to launch a new ultracapacitor (battery) an EESU (Electrical Energy Storage Unit), which if it works like they say, it would be nothing short of the Holy Grail for electric cars and many other applications, and it would make many of the older types of batteries completely obsolete.

The Claim

EEStor says its ultracapacitor has several times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries. This is a fairly amazing claim and will no doubt spark much suspicion and disbelief. I will keep an open mind and live among the hopeful.

Ultracapacitors already exist and are used in some applications, hybrid cars use them. However, up until now, ultracapacitors can only take about 5 - 10% of the power/charge of a lithium-ion battery of the same size. Many scientists recon that it is next to impossible to make an ultracapacitor that can match or beat a lithium-ion battery.

Click on the image for better quality Blogger has poor image handling

For instance the EEstor EESU is reported to be some 20+% smaller in size and to have 60% less weight than that of a similar capacity lithium-ion battery. It can be charged fully in 5 minutes, unlike a lithium-ion battery that takes at least 4 hours to charge. Because of its smaller size and greatly reduced weight, a larger capacity unit can be fitted in a given space thus giving a greater range to the vehicle.


Just imagine an electric car, truck or bus, that can make a journey from Cork to Belfast on a single charge. Then imagine charging it up fully in the time it takes to have a quick cup of coffee. And what about a ‘battery’ that can outlast the life of the vehicle it powers. A battery that is safe and non-toxic, no fumes, heat, or flames!!

And it doesn’t even begin to stop there. Ultracapacitors could be the answer to the mass storage needed for wind turbines in order to balance out the power. They could soak up energy very quickly, and release it equally quickly. They could last decades, making them a very good choice on economic grounds, gaining over pumped storage and other types of battery. Ultra capacitors could power mobile phones, cameras etc. Your mobile would charge in a few seconds.

Ahhhh but is my imagination running away with itself a bit too soon?????



craig said...

Tony, whether the ultracapacitors every materialize as cheap units for small consumer electronics remains to be seen, but they will not provide the dream of a quick refill that you envisage. The problem is common to all electric cars:
Petrol has an energy denisty of about 10kWh/kg ~ 12kWh/litre.
A 60 litre fuel tank will hold 800kWh of energy, which is approximately 3GJoules.
Say a refill takes 5 minutes=300seconds (a quick coffee!).
The energy flux is now 3GJ/300s=10MW !!
The problem is not whether the battery can hold the charge (although this is an issue) but that the infrastruture to provide the flow of energy is very significant. That's why I don't think people will willing give up liquid fuels for transport!

Erik said...

But u can use a grid of these supercaps which can be charched slowly and then give there energy when someone wants to "fill up" the car. The grid needs to be big enough offcourse to handle a lot of traffic, but it can be done.

Everyone will leave the house with a full "tank" and with a 250/300 mile radius charging the car during a trip will become a lot less necessary.

How many times has it happened that you emptied your car in one trip?

Can't remember the last time it happened to me.