For those of you who don't know, there's a company out there that's attracted the interest of venerable venture capitalists, established corporations, politicians, and even a few bloggers with claims that seem nearly impossible. Now, this isn't Steorn, it's not free energy. What they're talking about is possible without re-writing the laws of physics. But what they say they can do would change things. A lot of things.
EEStor says that they are working on an "electrical energy storage unit" (EESU - explained in more detail here, if you're curious) that would hold ten times the amount of power as todays most advanced batteries at the same weight. This storage unit would be able to charge and recharge infinitely without any loss of capacity and charging time (with enough power) could be brought down to three or four minutes. The storage units can be infinitely stacked together for applications as small as watch batteries and as large as grid-level power storage. And, of course, the technology is 10 times cheaper than lithium ion batteries. In short. it all sounds too good to be true.
I wouldn't even be wrting about this if EEStor didn't have investments from very smart people and contracts with very large companies. But that doesn't mean I'm not still skeptical. Smart people have been duped before. But because EEStor has been in the news an awful lot, and their strategic partner ZENN Motors says that they will be putting these devices into cars by early next year, let's try and figure out what this would mean for the world.
- Electric cars, of course, would become much more practical. While the EESU wouldn't be able to charge in 5 minutes at home with a 220 volt plug, it could charge in five minutes at high-power charging stations. This infrastructure would have to be built however, and the technology isn't cheap. Just like hydrogen or ethanol or Better Place's battery swapping stations, EESU's would require new infrastructure. The only electric vehicles that do not require new infrastructure are cars designed not to travel out of the city and cars with on-board, gas-powered generators like the Volt.
- ZENN Motor company currently has exclusive rights to put EESU's in four-wheeled vehicles that weigh less than 3,000 lbs. ZENN will likely sell those rights fairly quickly if the EESU pans out. If they don't, we'll be stuck with lithium ion for a while anyway.
- However, companies working on next-generation batteries for electric vehicles, including A123, LG Chem, GM, Tesla, Toyota and many more, will find themselves with a lot of useless research on their hands. Lithium ion batteries will never hit the numbers EEStor has claimed for it's EESU.
- Battery swapping technology may or may not become completely obsolete. Project Better Place's system of swapping out batteries to reduce the need for charging batteries could be used for EESU's instead of batteries. However, it's difficult for me to imagine that high-power quick-charging infrastructure wouldn't be far cheaper than battery-swapping facilities.
- Renewable energy sources would become much more viable. Currently, options for storing power generated during windy or sunny times of the day are limited and inefficient. An EEStor grid-level battery could store power for use at other times during the day at a comparatively low cost.
- The world might actually see a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions because of the EESU.
Let's remember, there are a lot of "if"s here. EEStor's technology could be viable, but costs could rise, imperfections could be found. It's very possible that the EESU will hit the market and lithium ion batteries will remain competitive with the new technology. Time will tell...I'm looking forward to it.
written by BruceMcF, September 07, 2009
written by "EEshock", September 08, 2009
written by B, September 09, 2009
written by Chas Martin, September 10, 2009
written by Eric, September 11, 2009
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