Friday, September 22, 2006

So Long, And Thanks for All the Oil

Our Wahhabi brethren who've been funding terrorism with petro-dollars may be disappointed to read this story, but if the death of the combustion engine is to come, it is the will of Allah.

Gentlemen, Stop Your Engines

By Erick Schonfeld and Jeanette Borzo, Business 2.0
September 20 2006: 2:16 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) --

The Disruptor: EEStor

The Innovation: A ceramic power source for electric cars that could blow away the combustion engine

Forget hybrids and hydrogen-powered vehicles. EEStor, a stealth company in Cedar Park, Texas, is working on an "energy storage" device that could finally give the internal combustion engine a run for its money -- and begin saving us from our oil addiction. "To call it a battery discredits it," says Ian Clifford, the CEO of Toronto-based electric car company Feel Good Cars, which plans to incorporate EEStor's technology in vehicles by 2008.

EEStor's device is not technically a battery because no chemicals are involved. In fact, it contains no hazardous materials whatsoever. Yet it acts like a battery in that it stores electricity. If it works as it's supposed to, it will charge up in five minutes and provide enough energy to drive 500 miles on about $9 worth of electricity. At today's gas prices, covering that distance can cost $60 or more; the EEStor device would power a car for the equivalent of about 45 cents a gallon.

And we mean power a car. "A four-passenger sedan will drive like a Ferrari," Clifford predicts. In contrast, his first electric car, the Zenn, which debuted in August and is powered by a more conventional battery, can't go much faster than a moped and takes hours to charge.

The cost of the engine itself depends on how much energy it can store; an EEStor-powered engine with a range roughly equivalent to that of a gasoline-powered car would cost about $5,200. That's a slight premium over the cost of the gas engine and the other parts the device would replace -- the gas tank, exhaust system, and drivetrain. But getting rid of the need to buy gas should more than make up for the extra cost of an EEStor-powered car.

EEStor is tight-lipped about its device and how it manages to pack such a punch. According to a patent issued in April, the device is made of a ceramic powder coated with aluminum oxide and glass. A bank of these ceramic batteries could be used at "electrical energy stations" where people on the road could charge up.

EEStor is backed by VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the company's founders are engineers Richard Weir and Carl Nelson.


Kleiner Perkins is one of the top VCs going. If this technology is real and not vaporware, it will be the most disruptive technology since, well, the combustion engine.

KPCB's investments are closely watched because the firm has made some of the most successful bets in VC history (Google, Amazon.com, Netscape, AOL, etc.). Energy investments carry a little extra risk for the firm since it is relatively new to the sector. Speaking at Stanford University in February, KPCB general partner John Doerr said the firm had made four energy investments so far, including fuel-cell maker Ion America. It will be interesting to watch how these companies develop.


Here's the link to the actual patent, filed earlier this year.

United States Patent #7,033,406
Weir, et al. April 25, 2006

Electrical-energy-storage unit (EESU) utilizing ceramic and integrated-circuit technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries

Abstract

An electrical-energy-storage unit (EESU) has as a basis material a high-permittivity composition-modified barium titanate ceramic powder. This powder is double coated with the first coating being aluminum oxide and the second coating calcium magnesium aluminosilicate glass. The components of the EESU are manufactured with the use of classical ceramic fabrication techniques which include screen printing alternating multilayers of nickel electrodes and high-permittivitiy composition-modified barium titanate powder, sintering to a closed-pore porous body, followed by hot-isostatic pressing to a void-free body. The components are configured into a multilayer array with the use of a solder-bump technique as the enabling technology so as to provide a parallel configuration of components that has the capability to store electrical energy in the range of 52 kWh. The total weight of an EESU with this range of electrical energy storage is about 336 pounds.



UPDATE: In the honestjohn.co.uk forums, reader madf does the math:

A real electric car? - madf

Fri 22 Sep 06 17:21
"If it works as it's supposed to, it will charge up in five minutes and provide enough energy to drive 500 miles on about $9 worth of electricity. At today's gas prices, covering that distance can cost $60 or more; the EEStor device would power a car for the equivalent of about 45 cents a gallon."

Now lets suppose it needs 100hp and drives for say 10 hours at an average of 50mph. And assume it uses on average 50hp so it uses 500hp hours .
That is equivalent roughly to 280KWH by my calculations.

Assuming the power supply to charge the batteries is 110Volts (US) . To charge up in 5 minutes and get 280KWH means a chargeing rate of 30,000 amps..!!!

If I have done my sums correctly , I would say that is very unlikely.. (to put it mildly).

Can someone please confirm I'm wrong?

madf

UPDATE:

At The Energy Blog, they have this to say about EEStor:

The one hang up that many ... have on the technology is that it would require enormous bursts of power to charge the ultracapacitor in the short recharge times that are referred to when discussing this technology. 1) the short recharge time is essential to increasing the efficiency of energy recovery from braking that present batteries can't do. 2) most charging should be done overnight in the owners garage. 3) "filling stations" will need to charge some sort of energy storage system, such as more ultracapacitors or more likely flow batteries or other energy storage systems. (I'm not expert enough to know which technology is best) using off peak power if available, or during lulls in activity at the filling station, rather than imposing a extremely high demand on the grid for the short bursts of power that would be required for "refueling". Whatever method is used it will be quite a bit more expensive to buy electricity from filling stations rather than recharging overnight at home or in the parking lot at your workplace.

Meanwhile, back at honestjohn.co.uk, reader madf starts to get mad about the whole thing.


As my numbers are confirmed, it's a load of rubbish.. At least the 5 minute recharging bit is. And 30,000 amps is one HUGE current. You would need bus bars of solid copper around 3cms in diameter..to carry the load and a HUGE transformer to handle the load and a HUGE substation..

In fact the thought of 30 cars all attempting to recharge at the same charging station at once would probably melt the substation.

So 110volts is out. Lets say it is a more feasible 11,000 volts bringing the current down to a more feasible - but still huge 300amps.
You don't plug in cars to 11,000 volts. One mistake and you and the car are fried. Voltages of that size can jump large distances.

My view is the website is a complete sham.

PS: and how many power stations will you need to build for the extra power rewquirements? Remember this proposal is in the US: a country with no National grid and whose power supply is so marginal it had rolling blackouts over 1,000s of miles in the last 3-4 years at peak demand periods..

Oh and the US most power stations are coal fired... so bang goes any thought of reducing pollution..

As for his economics..

Mickey mouse is not the phrase I would use.. it's far too kind.... there is a phrase that fits it perfectly "cow ordure baffles brains":-)


His points make sense. In order for something like this to work -- cars running on ultracapacitors and re-charging in short bursts at "gas" stations, you would need to basically have a nuclear reactor or two in every city to handle demand, and a whole new power grid to handle the massive new loads.

But.

It's not as if America hasn't taken on big projects before.

2 Comments:

Anonymous randomname said...

Everybody together, now...can you say, "Cold Fusion?"

6:00 AM  
Blogger wordwarp said...

Poor analogy.

Cold fusion violates the laws of physics as we understand it.

Ultracapacitors don't violate any laws of physics. They exist already, right now. Whether they can be used in cars, and whehter an infrastructure could be built to deliver such massive loads of electricity safely and economically, is the question.

However, I did used the words, "could be vaporware" about EEStor. Often what companies like this do best is extract dollars from underly skeptical and overly optimistic investors who "want to believe"and buy shares that later turn out to be worthless.

remember plugpower.com? I do.

2:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home