I don't know if you've seen this one or not (its about a week old).
Anyone heard of EEStor?
Are their claims valid?
They apparenlty are a valid company, with a variety of patents...
(I've snipped out some of the stuff for brevity, and because AP is
facistic about their stuff).
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Millions of inventions pass quietly through the U.S.
patent office each year. Patent No. 7,033,406 did, too, until energy
insiders spotted six words in the filing that sounded like a death knell
for the internal combustion engine.
An Austin-based startup called EEStor promised "technologies for
replacement of electrochemical batteries," meaning a motorist could plug
in a car for five minutes and drive 500 miles roundtrip between Dallas and
Houston without gasoline.
Clifford's company bought rights to EEStor's technology in August 2005 and
expects EEStor to start shipping the battery replacement later this year
for use in ZENN Motor's short-range, low-speed vehicles.
Skeptics, though, fear the claims stretch the bounds of existing
technology to the point of alchemy.
EEStor's secret ingredient is a material sandwiched between thousands of
wafer-thin metal sheets, like a series of foil-and-paper gum wrappers
stacked on top of each other. Charged particles stick to the metal sheets
and move quickly across EEStor's proprietary material.
The result is an ultracapacitor, a battery-like device that stores and
releases energy quickly.
For years, EEStor has tried to fly beneath the radar in the competitive
industry for alternative energy, content with a phone-book listing and a
handful of cryptic press releases.
ZENN Motor's public reports show that it so far has invested $3.8 million
in and has promised another $1.2 million if the ultracapacitor company
meets a third-party testing standard and then delivers a product.
EEStor's founders have a track record. Richard D. Weir and Carl Nelson
worked on disk-storage technology at IBM Corp. in the 1990s before forming
EEStor in 2001. The two have acquired dozens of patents over two decades.
Neil Dikeman of Jane Capital Partners, an investor in clean technologies,
said the nearly $7 million investment in EEStor pales compared with other
energy storage endeavors, where investment has averaged $50 million to
EEStor is instead creating better nonconductive material for use between
the metal sheets, using a chemical compound called barium titanate. The
question is whether the company can mass-produce it.
Joseph Perry and the other researchers he oversees at Georgia Tech have
used the same material to double the amount of energy a capacitor can
hold. Perry says EEstor seems to be claiming an improvement of more than
400-fold, yet increasing a capacitor's retention ability often results in
decreased strength of the materials.
"They're not saying a lot about how they're making these things," Perry
said. "With these materials (described in the patent), that is a
challenging process to carry out in a defect-free fashion."
Perry is not alone in his doubts. An ultracapacitor industry leader,
Maxwell Technologies Inc., has kept a wary eye on EEStor's claims and
offers a laundry list of things that could go wrong.
Among other things, the ultracapacitors described in EEStor's patent
operate at extremely high voltage, 10 times greater than those Maxwell
manufactures, and won't work with regular wall outlets, said Maxwell
spokesman Mike Sund. He said capacitors could crack while bouncing down
the road, or slowly discharge after a dayslong stint in the airport
parking lot, leaving the driver stranded.
Until EEStor produces a final product, Perry said he joins energy
professionals and enthusiasts alike in waiting to see if the company can
own up to its six-word promise and banish the battery to recycling bins
around the world.
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