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Author Topic: EEStor's Electrical Energy Storage Unit  (Read 4721 times)

Jay Sadie

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EEStor's Electrical Energy Storage Unit
« on: January 15, 2010, 04:51:14 PM »

EEStor Office
EEStor Office
EEStor is a company based in Cedar Park, Texas, United States, that claims to have developed a revolutionary new type of capacitor for electricity storage, which EEStor calls the 'Electrical Energy Storage Unit' (EESU). EEStor claims the EESU can store far more electrical energy than any other type of capacitor, and that it could be used to propel a small car for about 300 miles. This potential for making electric vehicles fully competitive with gasoline-powered vehicles has created much interest, although the company's claims have yet to be verified. The claims are described in detail in two of the company's patents, US patent 7033406 and US patent 7466536.

Background

Richard Weir
Richard Weir
EEStor, Inc. was founded on January 1, 2001, by Richard D. Weir, Carl Nelson, and Richard S. Weir, who have backgrounds as senior managers in disk-storage technology at such companies as IBM and Xerox PARC. They previously co-founded disk-storage startup Tulip Memory Systems, where they won 16 U.S. patents, and later a similar company named Titanium X. Neither company was successful. EEStor, Inc. has been granted two patents relating to EESU technology (as of December 2008), and claims 16 more patents applied for.

EEStor is a small, secretive, privately owned startup company. Because it shuns publicity, little is known about this organization. It appears the company's sole activity is developing the EESU and a production line for the units.

Claimed Specifications

The following is how the EESU is claimed to compare to other electrochemical batteries used for electric cars:

[table border=1 cellpadding=4 cellspacing=0]
[tr]
[td][nbsp][/td]
[td]Ceramic EESU[/td]
[td]NiMH[/td]
[td]Lead-acid(Gel)[/td]
[td]Lithium-ion[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]Weight (kg/lbs)[/td]
[td]135/300[/td]
[td]780/1716[/td]
[td]1660/3646[/td]
[td]340/752[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]Volume (litres/cubic inches)[/td]
[td]74.5/4541[/td]
[td]293/17,881[/td]
[td]705/43,045[/td]
[td]93.5/5697[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]Discharge rate[/td]
[td]0.02%/30 Days[/td]
[td]5%/30 Days[/td]
[td]1%/30 Days[/td]
[td]1%/30 Days[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]EV Charging time (full) 100% charge[/td]
[td]3-6 min[/td]
[td]>3.0 hr[/td]
[td]3-15 hr[/td]
[td]>3.0 hr[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]Life Reduced with deep cycle use[/td]
[td]none[/td]
[td]very high[/td]
[td]high[/td]
[td]very high[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]Hazardous Materials[/td]
[td]none[/td]
[td]yes[/td]
[td]yes[/td]
[td]yes[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]Temperature vs. effect on storage[/td]
[td]negligible[/td]
[td]high[/td]
[td]very high[/td]
[td]high[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]Commercially Available[/td]
[td]no[/td]
[td]yes[/td]
[td]yes[/td]
[td]yes[/td]
[/tr]
[/table]

  • For a 52 kWh unit, an initial production price of $3,200, falling to $2,100 with mass production was projected in 2004.
  • No degradation from charge/discharge cycles

Status and Delays

EESU?
EESU?
Several delays in production have occurred and there has not been a public demonstration of the uniquely-high energy density claims of the inventors. This has fueled speculation that the claims are false. In January 2007 EEStor stated in a press release "EEStor, Inc. remains on track to begin shipping production 15 kilowatt-hour Electrical Energy Storage Units (EESU) to ZENN Motor Company in 2007 for use in their electric vehicles." Eight months later Richard Weir told CNET news production would begin in the middle of 2008. Later it was reported he stated "as soon as possible in 2009." ZENN Motor Company (ZMC) denied there was a delay, just a clarification of the schedule, separating "development" and "commercialization". In March 2008 Zenn stated in a quarterly report a "late 2009" launch was scehduled for an EEStor-enabled EV.

Morton Topfer left the board in March 2009 for the 2nd time, stating he didn't want to be associated with an early stage start-up at his age (73).

In April 2009 EEStor announced third-party certification of permittivity. The press release did not mention at what voltage it was tested, so EEStor's uniquely-high energy density claims remain to be demonstrated.

In July 2009 ZENN Motor Company, as a result of the April 2009 permittivity tests, invested an additional $5 million in EEStor, increasing its share of ownership to 10.7%. A Zenn press release indicates they were able to get a 10.7% stake because other EEStor investors did not increase their stake.

In September 2009 Underwriters Laboratories' Priya L. Tabaddor, PhD stated "We have received a request to certify EEStor's product."

Micheal Blieden has been working on a documentary about the people and internet community surrounding EEStor, traveling to Canada, Texas, and other places for filming. He was hired for work on other projects in late 2008 that has so far prevented completion.

Skepticism From Experts

EESU?
EESU?
EEStor's claims for the EESU exceed the energy storage capacity of any capacitor currently sold, by orders of magnitude. Many in the industry have expressed great skepticism regarding the claims. Jim Miller, a capacitor expert who visited EEStor to evaluate the technology for potential investors, stated he was very skeptical because of current leakage typically seen at high voltages and because there should be microfractures from temperature changes. He stated "I'm surprised that Kleiner has put money into it." Andrew Burke, another expert who visited EEStor stated the consensus among experts was that the dielectric constant could not stay as high as claimed at the voltage levels claimed (i.e. energy density could not be that high). He stated EEStor would not provide any data to contradict the experts.

Patent Description and Claims

EEStor reports a large relative permittivity (19818) at an unusually high electric field strength of 350 MV/m, giving 10,000 J/cc in the dielectric. Voltage independence was claimed even up to 500 V/um. If true, their capacitors store at least 30 times more energy per volume than (other) cutting-edge methods such as nanotube designs by Dr Schindall at M.I.T., Dr. Ducharme's plastics research, and breakthrough ceramics discussed by Dr. Cann. In such a strong electric field, the permittivity usually decreases due to dielectric saturation , or the dielectric may break down, causing a short circuit between the capacitor electrodes. Northrop Grumman and BASF have also filed patents with similar theoretical energy density claims. EEStor has the only patent which claims to have actually measured the high energy density in sample components.

The EEStor patents cite a journal article and a Philips Corporation patent as exact descriptions of its "calcined composition-modified barium titanate powder." The Philips patent describes "doped barium-calcium-zirconium-titanate" (CMBT) and reports a permittivity of up to 33,500 at 1.8 V/micron, but does not report the permittivity at high electric fields such as the 350 V/micron EEStor claims. EEStor coats its 0.64 micron (average size) CMBT particles with 10 nm aluminum oxide (8% by volume) and immerses them 4% PET plastic by volume, giving 88% CMBT. The patent claims the aluminum oxide coating and PET matrix reduce the net permittivity to 88% of the CMBT permittivity. The Philips patent did not use either aluminum oxide or PET. The dielectric in solution is screen-printed and dried in 10 micron layers, alternating with 1 micron aluminum plates (used to apply the working 3500 V).

A July 2008 press release states the PET plastic matrix allows for better crystal polarization and that this "along with other proprietary processing steps provides the potential of a polarization saturation voltage required by EEStor, Inc." The patent states this is done at 180 C with 4000 V.

EEStor's US patent 7033406 mentions aluminum oxide and calcium magnesium aluminosilicate glass as coatings, although their subsequent US patent 7466536 mentions only aluminum oxide. Nickel was mentioned in the earlier US patent as the electrode but the later patent uses 1 micron aluminum plates as a less expensive alternative. According to the patents, both changes were made possible by selecting the PET matrix because it is pliable enough to fill voids at only 180 C.

Partnerships

In July 2005, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers invested $3 million in EEStor. They have not had any comment on the technology or company.

In April 2007, ZENN Motor Company, a Canadian electric vehicle manufacturer, invested $2.5 million in EEStor for 3.8% ownership and exclusive rights to distribute their devices for passenger and utility vehicles weighing up to 1,400 kg without the capacitor, along with other rights.

In January 2008, Lockheed-Martin signed an agreement with EEStor for the exclusive rights to integrate and market EESU units in military and homeland security applications but did not invest any money. Lockheed has not tested prototypes, but toured EEStor's facility. Lockheed was "very impressed" with EEStor, noting "they are taking an approach that lends itself to a very quick ramp-up in production."

In February 2008, Polarity Inc, a maker of electronic voltage converters, filed a patent referencing EEStor's technology. Polarity's website stated they were awarded a contract in 2009 to supply EEStor with a voltage converter to be used by Zenn electric cars. In December 2009 Zenn canceled plans for the car but plans to supply the drive train.

In September 2008, Light Electric Vehicles Company announced an agreement with EEStor to exclusively provide EEStor's devices for the two and three wheel market.

In December 2008, a patent application was filed by Lockheed-Martin that mentions EEStor's patent as a possible electrical energy storage unit.

In July 2009, Zenn invested another $5 million for a 10.7% stake. A Zenn press release indicates they were able to get a 10.7% stake because other EEStor investors did not increase their stake. Zenn has received $34 million from the equity markets in the past 3 years, and spent $10.1 million of the proceeds on EEStor ownership and technology rights. Zenn plans to cancel all production of electric vehicles by April 2010, leaving ownership of EEStor and their rights to the technology as their focus.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2010, 06:21:07 PM by Jay Sadie »
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