EEStor: The Story So Far

Energy storage startup EEStor has been very quiet about its technology, so when CEO Richard Weir told us back in January that the company’s high-tech battery could do “a helluva lot,” we considered ourselves lucky to accrue such detailed intel. We got a little more yesterday when EEStor said its equipment, procedures and techniques had been verified by independent third parties — in other words, researchers from outside the company have decided that the special sauce of chemicals in EEStor’s energy storage tech are of a quality and purity that should allow it to achieve EEStor’s bold claims. But while this development is exciting for energy geeks, the super battery tech remains far from operable.

The Cedar Park, Texas-based startup previously had its energy storage unit labeled as a potentially “disruptive technology” by The Economist. Potential markets for disruption include automotive batteries, grid energy storage and even battlefield power supplies.

But the very nature of EEStor’s ambiguously named Electrical Energy Storage Unit (EESU) is very cloudy. The company describes its device as follows: “Using revolutionary ultra capacitor architecture and environmentally friendly materials the EEStor, Inc. EESU will have the capability to compete against all existing battery and capacitor technologies.” The company says its technology can provide 10 times the energy of lead-acid batteries at one tenth the weight and half the price. No wonder people are paying attention.

Founded in 2001 by disk-storage vets Richard D. Weir, Carl Nelson, and Richard S. Weir, EEStor reportedly received $3 million in backing from Kleiner Perkins in 2005, though the startup is not listed in Kleiner’s portfolio.

Electric car maker ZENN Motor Cars invested $2.5 million in EEStor in 2007 for a 3.8 percent stake in the company, putting EEStor’s estimated equity valuation at the time at some $66 million. ZENN has the exclusive rights to use EEStor’s technology in new vehicles weighing up to 1,400 kilos, as well as for retrofits. In the wake of EEStor’s recent technical verification, ZENN has the option to invest an additional $5 million. ZENN says that depending on the investments of EEStor’s other backers, its potential total investment of $7.5 million would give it a stake of between 6.2 percent and 10.5 percent, putting EEStor’s valuation at somewhere between $71.4 million and $121 million.

Early this year EEStor got a huge credibility boost when it signed an exclusive agreement with defense contractor Lockheed Martin, which plans to use EEStor’s EESU for military and homeland security applications. Lockheed hopes EEStor’s units can help lighten the load of today’s high-tech war fighter. While delays have already pushed back estimated production start dates, we hope excited EEStor customers will show off the devices once they are finally delivered.

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