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The Replacement For the Battery?

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the charge-it dept.

Power 318

jackd writes "Great article in Technology Review, bordering on 'too good to be true,' about a small company in Texas that is developing the replacement for the electrochemical battery. The device is a kind of hybrid battery-ultracapacitor based on barium-titanate powders. Quoting: 'The company boldly claims that its system... will dramatically outperform the best lithium-ion batteries on the market in terms of energy density, price, charge time, and safety... The implications are enormous and, for many, unbelievable. Such a breakthrough has the potential to radically transform a transportation sector already flirting with an electric renaissance.'"

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318 comments

Sounds great! (0, Redundant)

Hazclan13 (745791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17730968)

This sounds wicked however we shall see if it works......

Rumor: I am a Google SHILL !!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731018)

Fact: I am not a Google SHILL !!

Re:Sounds great! (2, Interesting)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731498)

Feh. I want to know two things:
Watts per kilogram (330) and Watts per cubic centimeter (not derivable from speculations).

Then I'll be impressed.

(a 25g AA battery at 1.2v output would store 6875 mAh, assuming a similar density to NiMH. Half of that would impress me.)

Charged in 10 minutes (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17730992)

Everybody who can pump 90kW into a car battery, please stand up.

Re:Charged in 10 minutes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731030)

Hey, that's only 120 horsepower! Now, if only we had some sort of "engine" hooked up to what I like to call a "generator"...

Re:Charged in 10 minutes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731290)

It's obviously going to require a special charging station with a high-power hookup---and it won't be available at home. But when I'm at home, I don't care if my car has to charge overnight.

Re:Charged in 10 minutes (2, Informative)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731560)

Why would it?

For example, your television steps your house current up to a couple thousand volts. At, say, 120kv, your house circuit need only handle 20A (ie: 120kv by 0.02A is 20A at 120v. Given the specs of 280Wh/kg and 100lb [45.5kg] for a vehicle power system, that means we have 12kWh to fill. That means 5 hours for a complete fill-up, or just leaving your car plugged in overnight.)

Why are they even trying to do cars? (5, Insightful)

sinij (911942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731000)

Leave cars to companies that specialize in cars, like Honda or Ford, that can apply your batteries to already working hybrid or electric cars with manufacturing, distribution and sales in place. If you have amazing [anything] technology - focus on that technology instead of re-inventing its applications.

Re:Why are they even trying to do cars? (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731052)

Why are they even trying to do cars?

Because companies like Honda and Ford won't produce a viable electric car on their own!

Re:Why are they even trying to do cars? (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731092)

Exactly, First make a regular car starter battery. There is already an infrastructure based around 12v batteries: cars, boats, many off-the-grid homes use these or banks of these heavy, limited lifespan lead/acid things that would provide an eager market to replace with a lighter/longerlasting/fastercharging battery.

Re:Why are they even trying to do cars? (2, Insightful)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731548)

Nope,

my car battery is cheap, lasts longer than 5 years and just works.

My laptop battery however is a piece of expensive useless junk.

Fix broken things not things that are already fixed.

Re:Why are they even trying to do cars? (1)

mcg1969 (237263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731354)

Uhh, that's what they're doing. EEStor is not in the car business, they're in the ultracapacitor business.

Re:Why are they even trying to do cars? (4, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731628)

Becuause the State of the Union speech is tonight?

Ok, this will sound like conspiracy theory stuff, but is it not interesting that a small company in *Texas* just happens to announce a 10- to 20-fold imrovement on battery technology - and emphasises cars more than they ought to - just when an embattled prez is preparing to announce new domestic energy policies, and is widely blamed for foreign policies that are driving up oil prices?

Miracles Required? (4, Insightful)

EricBoyd (532608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731008)

I've blogged about this EESTOR stuff twice already:

http://digitalcrusader.ca/archives/2006/09/power_s torage_r.html [digitalcrusader.ca]
http://digitalcrusader.ca/archives/2007/01/ultraca pacitor.html [digitalcrusader.ca]

And I remain unconvinced that they are going to actually achieve what they claim. And even if they did, we don't have the 10,000amp service at my house necessary to actually charge them at speed. And we haven't heard anything about "leakage" (or "self-discharge") rates.

It's all vapor ware until they show us a functioning prototype instead of just bragging about materials purity...

Re:Miracles Required? (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731034)

And I remain unconvinced that they are going to actually achieve what they claim

Indeed, FTA:

"I get a little skeptical when somebody thinks they've got a silver bullet for every application, because that's just not consistent with reality," says Andrew Burke, an expert on energy systems for transportation at University of California at Davis.

Re:Miracles Required? (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731110)

And even if they did, we don't have the 10,000amp service at my house necessary to actually charge them at speed.

I'm skeptical as well, but your argument above is silly. I don't have a refinery or a pumping station at my house, yet my car is quite practical.

Re:Miracles Required? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731484)

filling a gas tank and charging a battery are surprisingly different propositions.

Re:Miracles Required? (2, Funny)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731556)

filling a gas tank and charging a battery are surprisingly different propositions.

So are filling a tank with gas compared with getting a bag of feed for the horse.

Re:Miracles Required? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731616)

> So are filling a tank with gas compared with getting a bag of feed for the horse.

well, if it's ok to take as much time to refuel your car as it is to let a horse eat it's fill, then I guess we have no problems.

Re:Miracles Required? (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731574)

Not if the time frame becomes the same.

Roll up to the pump connect it to the refill tube, press the button hold the handle and it's all done. Now did I flow gas or electrons.

Who cars as long as I don't attach a gas pump to my electric tank.

Re:Miracles Required? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731594)

erm, the point was that the time frames can't become the same because:

we don't have the 10,000amp service at my house necessary to actually charge them at speed.

About fast charging... (5, Informative)

mcg1969 (237263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731138)

I see the claim about charging in 10 minutes---but I've never seen them claim that will happen at home. It is indeed quite clear, as you've figured out yourself, that a residential hookup just doesn't have the capacity for a fast charge. But frankly, that's not that big of a deal, because in practice it will not be impractical to recharge a car at home over the course of hours.

It's when you're on a long trip and you need to refill and go that you'll be wishing for a filling station with an ultracap-compatible, high-power electrical supply---for which you'd likely be willing to pay a premium kWh rate.

Re:About fast charging... (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731334)

And while you are on these road trips, waiting 10 minutes or so for your car to charge isn't so bad. 10 minutes is a good break from the road and gives you time to relieve yourself, get some food, or buy souvenirs.

While this might not be the case in the midwest or east coast, out here in the south west there is a lot of undeveloped land (desert) around rest stops. Sounds like a good place to setup a giant solar power plant. During the hot summer, more people will be driving (and your energy generation level will be highest).

Re:About fast charging... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731626)

It sounds as if you gobble a lot of kok.

Re:About fast charging... (2, Interesting)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731422)

Well, if you don't mind the expense of having two of them, you could keep one charged at home, make a quick pit stop, and off you go. If they can make the amps, they can take the amps.

Stop, stop, I can't help flogging this:
If you have solar power you can take your transportation off of fossil fuels too. The range issue looks as though it may be fixed with this technology. Once you get an electric vehicle just add a few solar panels to your locked in rate solar system and your fuel costs are fixed to. How is the FED going to keep inflation at 3% if prices refuse to rise?

I've started keeping a list of users who can help you get a solar power system: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Re:About fast charging... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731470)

How is the FED going to keep inflation at 3% if prices refuse to rise?

Have you looked at your contracts lately? I've been haggling for several months with one possibly-will-be partner company that wrote into their contract that yearly cost increase will be 10% or CPI (doesn't specify which), whichever is greater

Don't worry about the government. Capitalists will make sure prices keep going up all on their own.

Re:About fast charging... (5, Insightful)

cbc1920 (730236) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731468)

Um... Couldn't you just use another bank of capacitors? At home, you can charge one bank slowly, and when you get back from the trip, use them to dump power into your car. The ones at home would be cheaper because there are much lower size and weight restrictions.

The same concept applies at the gas station- just have a big bank of capacitors. On the other hand, this type of power is perfectly doable if you have a high voltage line going to the gas station. I think people forget how much juice is going through those things, thousands of times more than what gets to your house.

Re:About fast charging... (1)

Ikester8 (768098) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731662)

I think what's eventually going to happen is that fueling stations will simply exchange your drained batteries for already-charged ones, once the automakers figure out how to make a quick-switch battery pack.

Re:Miracles Required? (1)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731614)

Why would you need 10kA service? To fill up the 12kWh at home on the spec'ed out batteries, you need 120V@12.5A and an eight hour nap. Don't have that kinda time? Go to your service station which will be happy to fill you up at 12000V@30A (coming directly off their own ultracapacitors which are filling up off 120V@100-500A).

Better hybrids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731010)

If they can make a reasonable electric battery for a car that provide power for trips up to 60 km or so without needing a recharge, transportation could change dramatically. Couple in a gasoline engine to recharge the battery for longer trips (like a hybrid vehicle) and you could probably cut oil use by the general population by half or more. Unfortunately, this wouldn't be particularly useful for commercial transportation (ships, trucks, trains, etc.). And since commercial transportation is still a significant part of our oil usage technologies like fuel cells will still need to be advanced.

About 10 or 15 years back.../usage model (2, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731116)

There was some battery technology that used liquids. When the battery ran flat, you'd just pump out the old and pump in fresh and you'd be recharged and going again. The proposed technology would be supported by "gas station"-like refill services where you'd dump the old stuff and pick up recharged new stuff. The proposed usage madel was very much like a regular gas car. Unfortunately the technology never got commercialised.

Perhaps the same could be used here. Pull into a "gas station". Dump & replace the whole battery pack (or the old powders or whatever) and pick up fresh. That would make a lot of sense from various angles. You won't have to fit a 10kA feed into every house. Just one hefty feed into the recharge station.

Of course, for any such technology to work, there is going to have to be some sort of regulatory standard for batteries (just like there are for fuels and oils) to ensure interoperability.

Re:Better hybrids (2, Informative)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731276)

If they can make a reasonable electric battery for a car that provide power for trips up to 60 km or so without needing a recharge, transportation could change dramatically. Couple in a gasoline engine to recharge the battery for longer trips (like a hybrid vehicle) and you could probably cut oil use by the general population by half or more.

Um, you mean like the recently announced Chevy Volt (made by GM, the "company that killed the electric car"), which has a 40 km capacity on battery, and a small electric engine that kicks in as a generator when the battery runs out? They expect to be producing it in two or three years.

Re:Better hybrids (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731412)

You mean like the one designed by Porsche and produced by Lohner, with the advancement of hub motors (like the GM Sunraycer), more than 100 years ago?

KFG

Re:Better hybrids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731456)

I don't care if it was designed 10 years ago or 2000 years ago. If I can't buy it then it does me no good. All that I care is for an economical vehicle that I could operate off of electricity for most of my short range trips while still be able to use a gasoline engine for longer trips. This shouldn't be fracking rocket science.

Re:Better hybrids (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731690)

This shouldn't be fracking rocket science.

Well, rocket science is simple at its heart and several centuries old.

But what you are looking for is more than 100 years old nonetheless. One might wonder where it went.

If I can't buy it then it does me no good.

One might also wonder if there were ways of acquiring one's needs without buying them, or at least reducing that which needs to be bought to the commodity level. It seems I can no longer buy a classic, double breasted trenchcoat because "nobody" is wearing them anymore. I do, however, have a sewing machine. Hello, my name is "Nobody."

Yes, a car is a bit more complicated, both physically and legally, but the principal still stands.

And since you're in the realm of dreaming, you might also want to consider if a car is really what you want to buy. Perhaps if we're shifting paradigms and all there is a better one.

KFG

Re:Better hybrids (1)

localman (111171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731490)

I hate to be a party pooper, but I doubt that something as revolutionary as the Chevy Volt will not be on the market in the next 5 years by any American automaker. I've been casually watching concept cars for a couple decades now, and very little of the dramatic tech makes it into production vehicles. It seems that they're just a way to keep people excited while they churn out the stuff that really sells: big cheap boxes.

On the other hand, I hope I'm wrong and if I am, I'd certainly be a potential customer for such a car, as I own a Prius and would love to see even more dramatic ways to reduce our oil dependency and polution.

Cheers.

Fantastic! Until... (0, Troll)

fragreaper (1043904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731012)

Mr Shell comes along, buys the company and disbands the project and says "nothing to see here.. move along..."

Re:Fantastic! Until... (1)

dredson (620914) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731172)

That is no doubt what the company is betting on.

Re:Fantastic! Until... (5, Insightful)

bobscealy (830639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731238)

This might be some shocking news to you - but your big oil companies didn't end up rich and powerful by being morons. I fail to see the financial gain in Shell (or any other big oil) buying the company and disbanding the project. Wouldn't it be more sensible for them to buy the company, finish development, and then have a strategic advantage over their competitors by being able to roll with the punches as oil demand goes down and demand for high performance energy storage goes up.

Actually, no, what I have written is crazy. I forgot to take into account that these are the same people that suppressed the 400 mile to the gallon carburettor and had the guy killed that invented the car that only runs on water.

Re:Fantastic! Until... (1)

Lothsahn (221388) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731348)

Those are fantastic claims. Do you have sources?

Re:Fantastic! Until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731394)

Actually, I remembered a James Bond movie while reading your last phrases... so that's why they never had that car back in the movies again...

Re:Fantastic! Until... (2, Insightful)

SeePage87 (923251) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731280)

If the battery works the way they claim it does for as cheap, etc., then they stand to make much more money letting the company flourish then selling it to Shell. Even if they did sell it, Shell would have the wits not to destroy the technology; they would just become a more diverse (and profitable) energy company as a result of the accusation.

Re:Fantastic! Until... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731540)

If the battery works the way they claim it does for as cheap, etc., then they stand to make much more money letting the company flourish then selling it to Shell.

And Shell will make an offer they can't refuse. "Either their signature or their brains will be on the contract."

Re:Fantastic! Until... (1)

FST777 (913657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731362)

If the current owner has a mind at all, he will realize that he might just have a silver bullet if Shell is that interested. That means he won't sell.

As long as a company doesn't have 66% of its shares on the market, it's not that easy to buy out a potential competitor.

Re:Fantastic! Until... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731520)

As long as a company doesn't have 66% of its shares on the market, it's not that easy to buy out a potential competitor.


      Although there are plenty of other ways a huge corp can put a little guy out of business WITHOUT buying him out... and as a last resort they can always rely on goverment lobbying to introduce new legislation at different levels (municipal and up) to put insurmountable obstacles in their path...

      Best to keep quiet about something like this unless you're ready for production, really.

Re:Fantastic! Until... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731416)

yes, lets not by it and be the sole owner and reap many hundreds of Billions of dollars, look like the good guys, and watch are competors dry up over night, that wouldn't make sense at all.

Idiot.

Isn't there other capicitors in an earlier story.. (1)

J.Dev.06 (1025842) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731028)

Nano fibers used to increase a capacitors surface area i believe was the concept. Capacitors look to be coming mature

Re:Isn't there other capicitors in an earlier stor (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731156)

See also http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cache:gDrrgY0YU9QJ: peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:MIT_Nanotube_Super _Capacitor+supercapacitor+lifetime&hl=en&lr=&clien t=firefox-a&strip=1 [64.233.183.104] (Google text-only cached copy) for similar MIT technology.

If two groups are independently getting similar results in terms of potential lifetime (>10y; 600,000 cycles) and speed of charge, then we can be more hopeful IMHO.

Color me (5, Insightful)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731032)

a deep shade of skeptical. In fact I'm borderline disgusted. A claim like this should ONLY be made when at least an engineering sample is available for review.

I'm tired of "too good to be true" products whose primary goal is to draw VC.

I hope they last long (5, Interesting)

scoot80 (1017822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731036)

Geez.. ultracapacitors.. we had supercapacitors till now.. whats next.. ubercapacitors? ubersuperultracapacitors.. anyhow..

So far, the supercaps i know of are quite expensive, and their performance degrades - i.e. with each charge cycle, the capacity gets smaller and smaller. I am not sure what the lifespan of a supercapacitor is, but it surely isn't terrbily long. I guess for the current applications (flash in cameras for example) its not all that critical - how many times is flash used over the lifetime of the camera.. If the lifespan is really improved, then they may be onto something.

Re:I hope they last long (3, Funny)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731130)

>> ultracapacitors.. we had supercapacitors till now..
>> whats next.. ubercapacitors? ubersuperultracapacitors..

googlecapacitors!

Re:I hope they last long (1)

stonefoz (901011) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731198)

They're taking on all the web... and now all the roads.
drive.google.com

Re:I hope they last long (4, Funny)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731336)

>> ultracapacitors.. we had supercapacitors till now.. >> whats next.. ubercapacitors? ubersuperultracapacitors.. googlecapacitors!

I for one welcome our new googlecapacitor overlords.

Re:I hope they last long (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731250)

Flux-capacitors? (a la Doc Brown)

-AC

Re:I hope they last long (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731378)

leetcaps! A11 y0ur 3lec+r0ns Ar3 b3l0|\|g +0 u5!

I was pretty sure... (2, Funny)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731668)

I was pretty sure the order was supposed to go:

Capacitor
SuperCapacitor
Capacitor64
Capacitor^3
Gii

Some people will claim anything to get investors.. (3, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731054)

I bet in a few months, they will only be somewhat better and in a year, it will turn out that their product is actually inferiour for mots applications. Same scam over and over again.

Re:Some people will claim anything to get investor (1)

Alain21 (855504) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731134)

Not so sure. About a year ago, I've seen an Oshkosh military hybrid truck using ultracapacitors instead of batteries (for weight and safety).

Re:Some people will claim anything to get investor (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731438)

For a hybrid, that is ok. The power does not need to be stored long-term. And batteries loose a lot and die fast if they have to be charged fast. Capacitors are very good in that department and may be suberiour to batteries if you have several 10's of charge-discharge cycles that may be interrupted at arbitrary times per hour.

Of course it is possible that we will have capacitors in 10-20 years that can sort of compete against todays batteries. But the claims made seem very inflated.

Pound for pound. (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731060)

> Ultracapacitors have many advantages over traditional electrochemical batteries. Unlike batteries, "ultracaps" can completely absorb and release a charge at high rates and in a virtually endless cycle with little degradation.

10 amp-hour 12V Li-Ion Battery: 500 grams ($100).

versus

10 amp-hour 12V Ultracapacitor (or 36-amp-second 12kV ultracapacitor): 50 grams ($100).
Current-limiting resistor of sufficient wattage rating to ensure that ultracapacitor storing that much energy won't vaporize any conductor that it happens to touch...: 450g. ($Priceless)

Re:Pound for pound. (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731190)

<sarcasm mode=a_little_bit>
Yeah, li-ion batteries never have safety issues.
</sarcasm>

Too good to be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731068)

When it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

They just want media coverage so they get investors or their stock rise.

We've seen similar stuff before, a small company that is claiming to have something that can revolutionize everything, but its all just a PR stunt.

Next Year's Vaporware? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731074)

The company is expecting delivery of the systems later this year.

Great. Call me on December 31 and I'll tell you how it's looking. At least they gave a date of delivery. We'll know when they didn't make it. Not that I'm hoping they'll fail. I would be a good fit for an electric car. But I'll never buy a chemical battery based electric or hybrid. Why? I'm in Alaska. Capacitors can work at low temps much better than the chemical batteries. Not to mention a cell phone with longer life, lighter laptops, and cheaper rechargable everything that would come out of these if they work as advertised.

Re:Next Year's Vaporware? (1)

volsung (378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731194)

Unfortunately, it sounds like they aren't yet able to make things work in very cold environments. From the article:
He also doesn't believe that the ceramic structure--brittle by nature--will be able to handle thermal stresses that are bound to cause microfractures and, ultimately, failure. Finally, EEStor claims that its system works to specification in temperatures as low as -20 C, revised from a previous claim of -40 C.

Re:Next Year's Vaporware? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731364)

I read that it is rated at -20, not -40, but that doesn't matter for me. They need -40 for automotive applications, according to the article. For some of the same reasons GM wouldn't let anyone outside CA and AZ get an EV-1 (led acid sucks in the cold), they'll have to make it work or not sell it. Some electric cars have warmers around the batteries to keep them in proper operating range and prevent damage. That wouldn't be hard with this system. It gets colder in MN than here. I'm in Anchorage, coastal, so it isn't as cold as people think. We have cold for 6 months, so something that loses 50% efficiency at 0F is crap, but it rarely gets below -20 here. In Minneapolis, they'll have a low for the year well below Anchorage's low for the year. So they'd be breaking them there more than here, as long as I don't drive up to Fairbanks in the winter. But an electric or hybrid car that runs about the same whether it is -20 or 120 outside is great thing. And, based off their initial number of -40, I'm sure they are hoping to get back to the magical -40 rating.

Hate to break it to you: (4, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731212)

But I'll never buy a chemical battery based electric or hybrid. Why? I'm in Alaska. Capacitors can work at low temps much better than the chemical batteries.

From TFA:
Finally, EEStor claims that its system works to specification in temperatures as low as -20 C, revised from a previous claim of -40 C.

"Temperature of -20 degrees C is not good enough for automotive," says Miller. "You need -40 degrees." By comparison, Altair and A123Systems claim that their lithium-ion cells can operate at -30 C.

Re:Hate to break it to you: (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731612)

Of course, a heater on the capacitors would work wonders. Add a small battery that is used just to heat the capacitors. This ultra capacitor could be made to work up north without too much work esp if this is a hybrid system (as opposed to pure electrical).

Re:Next Year's Vaporware? (0, Redundant)

Lothsahn (221388) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731308)

Actually, their system is WORSE than lithium Ion batteries at low temps. These would NOT work for you and your Alaskan friends, at least until Global Warming really kicks off.
FTA:

Finally, EEStor claims that its system works to specification in temperatures as low as -20 C, revised from a previous claim of -40 C.

"Temperature of -20 degrees C is not good enough for automotive," says Miller. "You need -40 degrees." By comparison, Altair and A123Systems claim that their lithium-ion cells can operate at -30 C.

Re:Next Year's Vaporware? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731536)

Actually, their system is WORSE than lithium Ion batteries at low temps.

Chemical batteries lose effeciency as the temperatures decrease. At -19 C, it will have even a greater advantage over chemical batteries. Then, at -21 C (assuming a hard floor, which is overly pessimistic) the capacitors will fail. As long as you aren't below the minimum operating temperature, they are increasing their lead over chemical batteries. Then they fail completely. Chemical batteries also have a temperature at which they can't operate below (lead acid batteries don't work if the acid is frozen solid), but it is lower than -20 C. As long as the capacitors are kept above the point where they physically break (apparently, -20 C for now) they will be good. A little heater in the compartment should help out.

Patents anyone? (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731102)

Are they going for a patnet or do they have one? If so it is guaranteed that they are either full of shit, or will be so high priced that it won't be worth it.

Can I buy stock in this company? (1)

deft (253558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731108)

Or does the stock not yet exist either?

Re:Can I buy stock in this company? (5, Funny)

ThePopeLayton (868042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731204)

If you are ready to buy stock in this company after reading this article. I own a business that you might want to buy stock in. My company makes food replicators, the kind on star trek. We don't have a working model yet but it should be out in a year or two. Please send checks to.... you will receive your stock certificates in 6-8 weeks.

I don't know about you but... (5, Funny)

Quick Sick Nick (822060) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731118)

I find this shocking.

Re:I don't know about you but... (1)

painQuin (626852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731564)

I am sincerely apologetic that I do not have mod points, because that's my kind of humour.

Seems unlikely (4, Insightful)

mgemmons (972332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731144)

Per the article,

Pound for pound, it will also pack 10 times the punch of lead-acid batteries

So, let's see...lead-acid batteries have a energy density of 30-50 Wh/Kg. Lithium-ion is 110-160 Wh/Kg. If it packs 10x as much as lead-acid batteries we can expect an energy density of 300-500 Wh/Kh. About 3-4x that of li-ion battery. Although the claim doesn't seem overly outrageous I find it unlikely that someone has managed this sort of improvement while the rest of the world is clueless.

The article is confusing (2, Informative)

mcg1969 (237263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731208)

The 10x comment must be pretty rough. From the article, the EEStor ultracaps will come in at 280Wh/kg, with Li-ion at 120Wh/kg and 32Wh/kh. So really, it's more like 2.3x the density of Li-ion. I dunno, that doesn't seem that far to me.

It is far compared to other ultracaps. (1)

guidryp (702488) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731688)

"So really, it's more like 2.3x the density of Li-ion. dunno, that doesn't seem that far to me."

But it is around a factor of 50 over other ultracaps.

Re:Seems unlikely (2, Interesting)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731444)

FTA
For example, the company's system claims a specific energy of about 280 watt hours per kilogram, compared with around 120 watt hours per kilogram for lithium-ion and 32 watt hours per kilogram for lead-acid gel batteries

  so they're claiming more like 2 1/3 an Li-ion battery. On the other hand even if the thing is too fragile and doesn't have enough temperature range for over-the-road use as some anticipate, I can think of some useful thing to do with it in a stationary mode such as peak buffering solar-voltaic or wind generation stations.

Re:Seems unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731526)

The fun thing about capacitors is that the power storage increases as the square of the voltage, so increasing the breakdown voltage pays big dividends. According to Wikipedia, EEStor claims a unit with 37 farads capacitance and an operating voltage of 3.5 kV, capable of storing up to 52kWh...

Please..... (1)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731162)

Wake me when there is a demo of this miracle battery if I could actually produce something this fantastic and I wanted investors overnight I'd demo it on video put the demo on youtube and sit around waiting for cash. I need to start a vaporware company so I can get some VC.

Dupe (5, Informative)

ed_g2s (598342) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731180)

As likely as it was in September: http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/09/ 25/1837254 [slashdot.org]

Not a dupe. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731670)

This one has more info. The other one was more business aspect. This one is lightweight tech and has a bit more behind it. Now, the skeptics can attack it.

All the way down from pacemakers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17731192)

>"It's really tuned to the electronics we attach to it," explains Weir.
>"We can go all the way down from pacemakers to locomotives and
>direct-energy weapons."

All the way down from pacemakers?

Down from that would be a toy train and a joy buzzer.

Good news, bad news... (4, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731200)

The good news: everything in the article is true, and they've already started production with a major worldwide OEM.

The bad news: it's Sony.

Re:Good news, bad news... (3, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731390)

The bad news: it's Sony.

The news is still good ... after the inclusion of a detonator they've been repurposed as low-cost cluster bombs for the U.S. military.

Re:Good news, bad news... (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731646)

Didn't Sony just recall a whole heap of Li-Ion batteries? They could use those as detonators!

Re:Good news, bad news... (1)

MattPat (852615) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731500)

... I'm sorry, but I must ask: why is the parent modded "Interesting?" :P

One of my Funny mod points goes to you, man.

Re:Good news, bad news... (1)

MattPat (852615) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731510)

... if I had remembered that I can no longer assign mod points to this thread. :P

Don't Try This At Home (3, Interesting)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731232)

The trick is to modify the composition of the barium-titanate powders to allow for a thousandfold increase in ultracapacitor voltage--in the range of 1,200 to 3,500 volts, and possibly much higher.

Oh man.. as if tossing a charged capacitor to an unsuspecting victim wasn't funny enough already.

Re:Don't Try This At Home (2, Insightful)

mcg1969 (237263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731326)

Oh man.. as if tossing a charged capacitor to an unsuspecting victim wasn't funny enough already.

I just don't get this danger angle. I mean, yes, charged high-voltage capacitors can be dangerous. So can bottles of gasoline with flaming pieces of cloth stuffed in the neck. And yet, none of us seems to be particularly freaked out by a fifteen-gallon can of gasoline strapped under our butts when we're driving---even with thousands of tiny explosions occurring per minute under the hood in front of us.

I'm not saying we shouldn't be concerned about the safety issues---just that I think we can be reasonably confident that the obvious ones will be licked if this comes out to market.

Re:Don't Try This At Home (2, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731410)

I'm pretty sure the GP was referencing the practical joke of throwing a charged capacitor at someone. Obviously if that's funny on its own, then using a supercapacitor will be hilarious.

Phillip Jose Farmers Riverworld series had this. (3, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731338)

The Not For Hire ran on a batacitor charged on the grail stones. According to Phillip Jose Farmer these things were supposed to have been developed in the early 80s. 5th paragraph [everything2.com] .

Price (1)

fetus (322414) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731502)

Sounds great, but when I hate when they say it will cost less... cause it never will. We're going to pay MORE for each reason they've listed why it's better than current batteries. Kinda like when I would watch Beyond 2000 and they claimed how space-age flat TVs will be cheaper to produce...

I can't really understand Jim Miller's criticism (4, Informative)

sonoronos (610381) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731558)

Taken from the Technology Review article:

"We're skeptical, number one, because of leakage," says Miller, explaining that high-voltage ultracaps have a tendency to self-discharge quickly. "Meaning, if you leave it parked overnight it will discharge, and you'll have to charge it back up in the morning."

The Jim Miller quote above confuses me, as Maxwell Technologies advertises a 125V output power module which is spec'd to only lose 70% of its charge after 30 days. So why is he contradicting his own company's products?

For those who are unfamiliar, while ultracaps sound fantastic, they are ultimately bound by the physical laws of capacitors, one law being that their output voltage drops (linearly) as they discharge. Maxwell Technologies knows about this, so they develop ultracapacitor arrays with extremely high internal voltages (4000+ V) and regulate the power output using efficient step-down converters. Battery cells, of course, do this naturally, because the electrochemical reactions generating the current do so at a voltage determined by the electric potential of the galvanic reaction inside the cell.

This is one reason why you don't hear much about using ultracaps in portable electronic equipment. While ultracaps may be relatively compact, they are still bulky, and though they may be able to provide the necessary voltage, you have to factor in doubling or even tripling the required voltage to use efficient step-down converters. The story gets even worse for charging. Let's say you want to charge using 12 volts DC. Do you run through dedicated charging circuitry which takes in "safe" voltage, but can only charge the ultracap at battery-style rates (low current), or do you try and charge the ultracap in its theoretical minimum charge time (high current), which means that the wall-warts you are used to seeing will look more like big, boxy IGBT/Invert-based welders (and you thought your xbox 360 power supply was big...)

In short, while it sounds good in theory, the practical challenges of discharging and charging ultracaps are fairly sizable.

Kleiner Perkins is funding this (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731604)

First off, this was reported in Business Week back in 2005 [businessweek.com] , with some of the same quotes.

What's striking is that Kleiner Perkins, one of Silicon Valley's top venture capital firms, is funding this. If they're funding it, it's not totally bogus; they will have done a due diligence and had some competent people look over the technology. There may turn out to be some reason it's not feasible, but if it was physically impossible, they wouldn't have obtained money from that group.

Patents (1)

RH_Jesus_Freak40 (939635) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731630)

This technology sounds great! I'm just afraid that someone will have an overly-broad patent that ties this technology up with lawsuits.

Less capacity? (1)

togashi06 (1013825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731642)

FTFA:

Where they're weak, however, is with energy storage. Compared with lithium-ion batteries,
high-end ultracapacitors on the market today store 25 times less energy per pound.
I fail to see how a battery with less capacity than the actual ones can be of any use.
Anyone care to explain?

Yeah... (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 7 years ago | (#17731720)

Along with the desk-that-charges gizmos and hard-chip that converts heat-energy to electricity, until I see one (or at least hear about one on a reputable site other than their own), I won't believe they are trying to do anything other than get hype to achieve the allocation of the almighty grant.
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