EEStor, a company located in Cedar Park, Texas, has been quietly working on an energy storage device that might be powerful enough to be competitive with the internal combustion engine.
The device, called an Electrical Energy Storage Unit (EESU), is not a battery because it is not chemically powered; in fact, it contains no hazardous materials of any kind.
If it functions as advertised, however, it will store enough electricity in five minutes of charging to drive 500 miles for about $9. That would work out to about 45 cents a gallon for an equivalent gas-powered car.
According to a patent issued in April, the device is made of a ceramic powder with a barium-titanate insulator, coated with aluminum oxide and glass.
It works as a combination of energy store and ultracapacitor, which can completely absorb and release a charge at high rates. A bank of these ceramic ultracapacitors could be used at "electrical energy stations" where people on the road could charge up.
Perhaps the predicted demise of the electric car has been a bit exaggerated. EEStor's goal is to replace the electrochemical battery in virtually every application, from fully electric cars and hybrids to laptop computers, with their battery-ultracapacitor hybrids.
This ultracapcitor technology is absolutely amazing, and it appears that it will herald a revolution in car battery technology.
EEStor's patent documents claim that the EESU not only will outperform the best lithium-ion batteries, but can contain up to 10 times the juice of conventional lead-acid batteries, while being produced at half the cost and without the need for toxic chemicals.
Questions have arisen as to whether the EESU will be able to overcome the problems other ultracapacitors have faced, such as a lower capability for energy storage than lithium batteries, and structural fragility that may make them break easily. You'll likely find out soon, as Canada-based ZENN Motor plans to put the EESU in action later this year in electric cars.
On Vital Votes, reader Russ Bianchi from Soquel, California is less than optimistic: