Natural Gas & Ultracapacitors

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.
post resumes below image

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.

18 Responses to “Natural Gas & Ultracapacitors”
  1. EEStor is very late in producing a prototype for ZENN Motors, despite having a considerable financial incentive fir them to do so. Electrical Engineering types, for example Andrew Burke, a research engineer at the University of California at Davis, Institute of Transportation Studies, have suggested that descriptions of EEStor technology are at the very least implausible. Of particular concern is the insulation qualities if the Materials EEStor’s Richard Weir has chosen to use. According to Burke, “Richard Weir has chosen to not make available any test data which contradicts what the experts say”. Burke reported that he had attended a meeting at EEStor headquarters with a group of would be investors, but that Weir “absolutely refused to show us any test data.”

    So far EEStor has not produced a single D-cell size working proof of concept prototype, despite the the promise that one would be shipped to ZENN Motors in 2007. In 2009 full scale commercial production for ZENN is scheduled to begin, but ZENN could hardly be expected to put untested units into cars and ship the cars off to consumers, without a prolonged test of what is after all a new automotive technology. It takes a far more credulous person than I am to believe the EEStory.

  2. Ed Mai says:

    Yeah EEStor ultracap can’t be real. This stuff is all hype. When are we going to get over the fact that cars will always use gasoline. This whole fantasy about man flying! Rubbish! Man wil never fly! And don’t get me started on the moon.

    Will EEstor ever deliver? I hope so. If not? Well Maxell must be worried!

    In the end I don’t car what’s under the hood, a battery or an ultracap as long as it works and is cheap enough to economically viable.

    We have seen a lot of impossible things happen in our lives. Maybe we should wait and see what happens.

  3. The point of the most recent articles at is that the skeptics will have the opportunity to either renew or abandon their complaints based on the fact that EEStor is scheduled to produce their first commercial unit. This is precisely what the experts like Burke have said is either unlikely or impossible. Therefore, if they succeed, it will be one of the most important developments in the history of technology.

    So at this point, either EEStor is right or their skeptics are right. Looks like we will find out who is correct this month.

  4. Tom Villars says:

    “According to Wikipedia’s entry on EEStor, EEStor’s capacitor may achieve an energy density as high as 700 watt-hours per kilogram.”

    Actually the Wiki says:
    700 Wh / Liter
    450 Wh / Kilogram

    Also I tend to go more with the time line Carl Watkins outlines on the LightEVS site, LightEVS recently signed a contract with EEStor, where he says:

    EEStor expects to complete their first production prototype EESU (i.e., produced from their production line) in early 2009. The ensuing refinement of the production line and testing of the EESUs will last for a few months. Barring unforeseen problems (it would be surprising if none occurred), the first production EESUs ready for distribution in EVs should be available by mid 2009. We intend to be ready to start introducing EESU-powered LEVs and electric propulsion systems for LEVs, in conjunction with manufacturing partners, as soon as EEStor makes production EESUs available to us.

  5. Aaron says:

    The whole EESTOR scam is ridiculous, it’s been 8 years and not a single piece of evidence. Crap or get off the pot. EESTOR is not possible.

  6. Aaron says:

    And to the author of this article, You might as well be extrapolating on the possibility of anti-gravity because as it sits right now, there are only about 5 people in the world who think that EESTOR has something, its a complete fake.

  7. Ed Ring says:

    Tom – Wikipedia reports, in mass production, a projected energy density of 680 watt-hours per kilogram for EEStor systems. This is what, apparently, EEStor’s management believes is feasible, and what the post was referring to. One of the reasons we are intrigued by EEStor is they have attracted some of the absolute top private equity investors in the world. They have been vetted. Does this mean they are going to deliver the goods? We will see. Even if EEStor only delivers a capacitor of comparable energy densities to lithium ion batteries they may find a niche. As to the larger question of whether or not advanced capacitors will play a greater role in automotive power systems we are bullish.

  8. Tom Villars says:


    The 682 Wh/kg is based of EEStor’s 2004 business plan that was using the older technology technology from EEStor’s original EESU patent and then only after the production line was operating at “mass production” levels.

    The 450 Wh/kg comes from Carl Watkins and reflects what should come off the productions lines sometime middle to late 2009 using the the techniques discussed in EEStor’s newest patent application.

    But I think there is still hope for much better energy densities shortly after the first EESUs start shipping. Dick Weir has mentioned several times a military version would be available at twice the energy density so the potential exist for 900 Wh/kg units.

  9. Solar Nano says:

    The world no longer believes its survival depends on zero future imported dirty fossil fuel at any price. It now depends on clean domestic alternative renewable energy at a price benefiting all mankind, and every other thing known and unknown, providing a clean prosperous sustainable forever! Algae, a clean renewable forever, provides biofuel easily stored to fuel every home/ business/industry, as well, charge every type of vehicle.

    A beautiful, clean sustainable forever,

    Solar Nano
    Roy Mahoff

  10. why wait says:

    I saw this company AFS Trinity is currently producing ultra-capacitors in a complete vehicle system.

    I’m not sure what their power density is.

    Is this EEstor’s competition?

  11. boprn says:

    Good to see a conversation re EEstor. Eventually it will happen, be patient! Companies like Lockheed-Martin don’t spend money on companies that can’t produce. The techonology is cutting edge, and there are usually stumbles when one goes from crawling to walking. EEstor should be coming around with the product soon. The real question is, will the government allow such techology to exist. Sound paranoid? Think of this; the government derives a lot of tax revenue based on gas gallons at the manufacture & sale point. Imagine all that tax revenue gone. What would the fed do to replace it, can it replace it? There must be a system in place to support lost revenue to the fed if we are to believe that EEstor type systems will be allowed to exist. Such transformations in energy usage not only effect tax bases at fed and state levels, but also effect international relationships that are dependant on the export of energy to the U.S.

    At any rate, it is good to see Ed Ring write an artile on this. Wondering if this article was in response to….?

  12. Dan says:

    I am tempted to think like Dave. Does someone seriously think that some unknown company could attract inverstors like Lockheed-Martin and Kleiner-Perkins with a totally faked product? To my opinion, there are two real questions. First what will be the actual performances of the units once produced on a large scale and at what price? And the second question is to what extent will the arrival of this technology in our cars be delayed or stopped by the pressure exerted on security authority? Think of it. If the ultracaps only achieve half of the energy storage capacity they are said to do, this is the end of the internal combustion engine car. Even hybrids will be by far superseded. Automakers (and especially in the current financial situation they are in) can’t afford to lose their spare parts market (which account for 75% of their profit) with cars that don’t need spare parts, together with incurring the cost of changing everything in the way they make cars. Now if you place side by side the oil industry, the automakers and the large spare part business to lobby together with the government expecting to lose money from tax revenue, you can expect some “security problems” with the ultracaps to suddently appear that would preclude their use on public roads for the moment…

  13. Silas says:

    My name is Silas, and im heading up a team of young individuals who are looking for contributors to an eco friendly conference in Sweden, just south of stockholm in July 2009. I am extremely intrigued by your website and hope that there may be interest in doing a week long workshop on climate change alternative energy. Even if you yourself know you cannot do it, other contacts would be appreciated. Please get back to me! it was be amazing.

  14. CBDunkerson says:

    I’m with others on the ‘you do NOT defraud Lockheed Martin’ view of things. EEStor either has some very impressive technology… or a death wish. :]

    As to ‘security problems’. Hold up. A single EEStor unit as specified in their patent would hold about the same charge as the battery pack in a Tesla Roadster (good for about 240 miles) at roughly one fourth the weight and volume. That’s impressive, but still has some issues which would prevent it from being mainsteam overnight. Even at 1/4th the weight… we’re talking about 280 pounds. That would prevent alot of people from being able to swap these units in and out manually. The EEstor can apparently fully charge in about four minutes (as opposed to four hours for the Tesla battery pack)… but only with an extremely high voltage/amperage charging station. On an ordinary household outlet it would take a full day to get that 240 mile charge.

    So, it is too heavy to easily swap in and out and most existing chargers would take a LONG time to ‘refuel’ it. Ergo, this isn’t going to arrive on the scene and replace gasoline overnight. High power charging stations will need to be installed… likely at current gas stations. That means manufacturing and construction jobs… and then charging fees… all of which can be taxed. Further, if everyone went out and got one of these cars day one there wouldn’t be enough electricity to power them. Think about it. All the power currently generated by internal combustion engines would have to instead come from power plants… we don’t have anywhere near the capacity to cover it. Which means we need more power plants for such cars to be a viable replacement for gasoline. And a more robust distribution grid to handle all this extra power. Which means more construction and higher energy bills… and more taxes.

    So yes, alot of existing industries would become obsolete or severely downgraded by the switchover to electric cars… but alot of other industries would be vastly expanded or have to be built from scratch. To date the US government hasn’t been willing to switch horses, but the incoming administration is a very different story.

  15. l says:

    You need to recharge the 52 KW eestor unit in a single day only if You have a daily 240 miles trip!

  16. Jack Mastbrook says:

    would like to pass this on to you. It is very interesting technology, purporting to have 10 or greater the power density of Maxwell or NessCap devices. If this is true, it can augment HEV or EV batteries without adding so much weight. I will attach the PDF file for you perusal. Enclosed are excerpts from the article apperaing on
    Reticle Carbon: Electrode Material for Ultracapacitors
    Dr. Carl C. Nesbitt Reticle Inc. 334 State Street; Suite 204 Los Altos, California 94022 Executive Summary: Reticle Inc. (a California-based company) has developed a unique electrode material (Reticle Carbon) which is ideally suited for electric double-layer (EDL) ultracapacitors. Reticle Carbon is simple to manufacture, yet has low electrical resistivities (0.04-0.130 -cm), demonstrated high surface areas (1,250-1,750 m2/g), and the highest reported specific capacitance (200-310 F/g). It is produced by consolidating granular activated carbon that has been selected for its properties. That is, only activated carbon is used to make Reticle Carbon—no binders, no fillers, no adhesives. The manufacturing process is single-stage, but flexible enough so that we can tailor the properties of the material for ultracapacitors. Most electrode materials are limited to thin layers or thin films by the manufacturing processes. Reticle Carbon is unique in being the only material that can be cut to any thickness to meet any capacitance needed. This paper emphasizes this difference and presents the wide range of properties with the underlying theory to store energy in the massive surface area of the material. A comparison of our preliminary capacitors with commercial capacitors is included.

    Reticle Carbon has unique properties that allow it to be an efficient electrode material in ultracapacitors. The material has surface areas in excess of 1,700 m2/g, which give the material a specific capacitance of 300 F/g. Ultracapacitors made with material with 1,240 m2/g have energy densities of 26 Wh/kg and power densities of 31 kW/kg at a 2-V potential. With modification and design optimization these levels will be exceeded in next generation Reticle ultracapacitors. The most significant contribution that Reticle Carbon provides is the flexibility of providing any thickness (hence any mass) of electrode to a capacitor. This simple distinction sets Reticle Carbon apart from other electrode materials which must be kept thin for efficiency or because of the restrictions to the steps to manufacture the material.

    I understand Dr. Nesbitt will be at the World Advanced Capacitor summit at the end of this month.

    Jack Mastbrook
    San Pedro CA

  17. Jacque Swartz says:

    Well, it’s now 8 months into 2009. Any updates on EEstore or other capacitor developments? Tesla Motors is going strong, more alternatives are showing up in the market and even the mainline automakers are turning to. EEstore is fast running out of time to be a player.


    Jacque Swartz
    Broomfield, CO

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