A recent comment on our report entitled “Ford Delivers Electric Vehicles” (written in April 2001 when USPS tried out a fleet of 400 EVs) has called our attention once again to EEStor (site under construction), the stuff of legends, the company developing an ultracapacitor to supply partners such as ZENN Motor Company, among others. According to Wikipedia’s entry on EEStor, EEStor’s capacitor may achieve an energy density as high as 700 watt-hours per kilogram. By comparison, the lithium ion battery only attains an energy density as high as 150 watt-hours per kilogram. This is making up a lot of ground. For example, a lead acid battery has an energy density of about 40 watt-hours per kilogram, but a good off-the-shelf conventional capacitor only has an energy density of around 5 watt-hours per kilogram.
The disruptive potential of EEStor’s ultracapacitor technology has been known for some time, as evidenced by the Technology Review report of January 22, 2007 entitled “Battery Breakthrough?” or our own report dating back to September 27, 2006 entitled “ZENN Cars & EEStor’s Ultracapacitor.” But EEStor has also been in the news lately, it turns out, though they remain fairly quiet. Earlier this year the anonymously authored “EEStorblog” went online, billing itself as “News, Reviews, Interviews and Overviews of all things related to EEStor Inc.” They reported on December 12th that Intel is considering getting into the automotive electricity storage business, in their post entitled “Intel Inside Model May Attract Intel.” Earlier this week, the EEStorBlog claimed “first Zenn Motor EESU production unit” could arrive at Zenn sometime this month in a post entitled “A Speculative Piece on the Arrival of the First Production EEStor EESU.”
A Cleantech Group report from July 30, 2008 entitled “EEStor’s Weir on ultracapacitor milestone” stated EEStor had “announced the certification of production milestones and the enhancement of its chemical purification processes.” All in all, there still isn’t much recent information available regarding EEStor, but what is out there remains positive. The fact that Intel could consider manufacturing storage systems for electric vehicles should excite anyone still wondering if they are for real. One of the advantages of capacitors as a storage application is that compared to batteries, capacitors have virtually unlimited surge capacity. Also, as storage devices, an added attraction of advanced capacitors is their manufacture may require fewer expensive inputs and less toxic material.
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|The Chevy Volt’s “E-Flex” technology is likely the most advanced all-electric
drivetrain under development today, insofar as it is designed to accomodate
any onboard power source, presumably including a natural gas diesel generator.
(Photo: General Motors)
The combination of batteries and advanced electrochemical capacitors are part of a plethora of rapidly evolving and hybridizing electricity storage innovations. They are only one example of how new technologies are relentlessly delivering decidedly unbiased pluralism to automotive design. The ferment of new ways to design an automobile are disrupting established auto manufacturers, and this technology pluralism will impel economic pluralism. The next great automaker could be in the Silicon Valley, manufacturing an extended range plug-in with extra power from an onboard natural gas diesel generator, an all-electric drive train, and a novel electricity storage system that includes ultracapacitors.