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Summary:

EEStor, maker of the supposedly killer energy storage device, might soon plug its “electrical energy storage unit” (EESU) into the grid to help solve renewable energy’s intermittent power generation problem of when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. MIT Technology Review reports that […]

EEStor, maker of the supposedly killer energy storage device, might soon plug its “electrical energy storage unit” (EESU) into the grid to help solve renewable energy’s intermittent power generation problem of when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. MIT Technology Review reports that the stealthy Austin, Texas-based startup is in “serious talks” with potential solar and wind energy partners to help boost grid capacity by providing utility-scale electricity storage. But before EEStor puts its EESUs on the grid it will have start making them and CEO Dick Weir has said production will start by the end of 2009.

EEStor joins AltairNano and A123 Systems as startups looking to connect their energy storage devices to the grid. The idea is that large capacity, fast-charging storage devices could sit on the grid, storing and providing energy to the grid as necessary. Excess energy generated at night could be stored and then used during the day during peak demand. Large, static storage devices could allow operators more flexibility and help renewable energy offer a stable base load. Weir claims that by partnering with wind and solar energy producers, EEStor could put 45 percent more energy on the grid.

AltairNano is developing ceramic lithium-ion batteries with nano-structured materials that allow for large amounts of surface area for fast charging. AltairNano’s new CEO Terry Copeland told us earlier this summer that the startup had successfully charged and discharged two megawatts of power to the grid in 30 minutes from one of their batteries in a partnership with AES.

Battery darling A123 Systems said in June it is already working with its investor General Electric to use its lithium-ion batteries for “grid stabilization.” Ric Fulop, founder and vice president of business development, said on a panel of energy storage experts organized by the New England Clean Energy Council that the battery technology is already there. “Now it’s a question of building the systems. Megawatt-level systems are all about systems integration.”

EEStor has a long way to go before it tackles systems integration. The startup just had its materials verified for purity and consistency, a necessary step, but far off from a working EESU. “I’m not going to make claims on when we’re going to get product out there,” Weir Told MIT Tech Review unapologetically. “That’s between me and the customer. I don’t want to tell the industry.”

By Craig Rubens

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  1. If EEStor works as advertised, Altair may as well discontinue building batteries – they, more than any ofhter batteries out there, are exorbitantly priced and only have interested the military for niche applications, which EESTor units could perform better at in every regard. Altair batteries will be history at the time the first EEStor storage device proves itself viable. It’s not even a close contest – it’s no contest.

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  2. Well, the CEO of ZENN (EEStor’s customer) is saying they expect to start production of their cityZenn car in Q1 2009 using EEStor super capacitors. It will be interesting to see if they stick to that timeline.

    I’m rooting for EEStor to be successful.

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  3. Actually EESTOR has a serious competitor that may have an even superior and lower cost technology for Grid Storage. Check http://www.1-LTL.com

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  4. I’d like to believe that EESOR will deliver. It would be a huge breakthrough for the world. I have even invested a small amount in Zenn Motors–call it a ‘psychological’ investment, not based on fundametntals at all–to support my wish.

    But EESTOR’s ‘stealth’, their refusal to release data that might convince a physicist or an electrical engineer makes me wonder now if we’re dealing here with another cold-fusion bubble. If EESTOR doesn’t ante up with something more soon they are going to lose even the tiny bit of credibility they now have.

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  5. I wish the journalists would be technically accurate. I see these inaccuracies all the time. Here is an example:

    “the startup had successfully charged and discharged two megawatts of power to the grid in 30 minutes from one of their batteries in a partnership with AES.”

    You don’t charge and discharge “megawatts”, you charge and discharge megawatt-hours, i.e., units of energy. He should have said they “charged and discharged two megawatt-hours in 30 minutes” In other words a certain amount of energy was charged and discharged in 30 minutes.

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  6. A question about EESTOR’s supercap:

    If it is true that a supercap such as EESTOR claims they are making can be built, is it safe? It stores as much energy as would be produced by the combustion of several gallons of gasoline (otherwise it couldn’t power a car hundreds of miles). It does this by storing electric charge at very high voltage gradients. Suppose a breach occurs somewhere in the battery. An arc occurs and a high current results. That melts and ionizes the surrounding material, resulting in an even greater current. This process continues, causing a runaway effect. The entire energy content of the supercap is released in a very short time, causing an explosion. How do they avoid this scenario? Any ideas?

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  7. If EESTOR works out, it may be a boon to L-Ion battery technology. I believe EESTOR’s capacitor still discharges its power in stuttered pulses and relies on fast charge-discharge long cycle life batteries like Atairnano’s to achieve usable power for use.

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  8. [...] EEStor Joining Other Energy Storage Startups on the Grid [...]

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  9. [...] EEStor Joining Other Energy Storage Startups on the Grid [...]

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  10. Anthony Smith Friday, October 3, 2008

    If Zenn are to be in production with an EESU vehicle by the end of 2009 then they’ll need some urgent, and immediate, schedule discussions with Mr Weir of EEstor.

    If the EESU units are not going to be available in production quantities until “the end of 2009″, then I suggest there may be a pipe fill problem for Zenn. My industry experience says even with “Just-in Time” inventory management, Zenn will need EESU units at the latest by the end of Q3 2009. Remember that Zenn will have to fill the pipeline to consumers with vehicles before the formal introduction of the vehicle into the N. American marketplace.

    Anthony M. Smith, Oct 3rd 2008

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