August 05, 2008

EEStor update from MIT Technology Review

EEStor has manufactured materials that have met all certification milestones for crystallization, chemical purity, and particle-size consistency. The results suggest that the materials can be made at a high-enough grade to meet the company's performance goals. The company also said a key component of the material can withstand the extreme voltages needed for high energy storage. Representatives of the company said in a press release that certification data proves that voltage breakdown of the aluminum oxide occurs at 1,100 volts per micron--nearly three times higher than EEStor's target of 350 volts.

EEStor claims that its system, called an electrical energy storage unit (EESU), will have more than three times the energy density of the top lithium-ion batteries today. The company also says that the solid-state device will be safer and longer lasting, and will have the ability to recharge in less than five minutes. Toronto-based ZENN Motor, an EEStor investor and customer, says that it's developing an EESU-powered car with a top speed of 80 miles per hour and a 250-mile range. It hopes to launch the vehicle, which the company says will be inexpensive, in the fall of 2009. At the EESU's core is a ceramic material consisting of a barium titanate powder that is coated with aluminum oxide and a type of glass material.

EEStor claims momentum is building and that they'll start coming out with information about the company's progress on a "more rapid basis." Plans are also under way for a major expansion of EEStor's production lines. "There's nothing complex in this," he says, pointing to his past engineering days at IBM. "It's nowhere near the complexity of disk-drive fabrication."

If EEStor is successful, their technology could be used to extend the range, capacity or other performance metrics of electric planes. Current electric planes have a range of about 100 miles. Tripling range would be 300 miles. Alternatively a shorter range with more passengers is also possible. 4 people instead of two people at about 100-150 mile range.

Hybrid electric planes can go 720 miles.