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EEStor: Are We There Yet?

Does yet another announcement about a successful test from secretive ultracapacitor developer EEStor mean a step closer to actual production? Yesterday, EEStor announced that it received third-party verification of the energy storage capacity of a key material used in its technology. The test, which was conducted by Texas Research International, exceeded expectations, according to Cedar Park, Texas-based EEStor.

That’s good news for Zenn Motor, a Toronto-based electric car maker that’s invested in EEStor and plans to use the technology in its upcoming highway-speed vehicle — and eventually package it into an ubiquitous drive system. Zenn CEO Ian Clifford told us at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference this week that he envisions the company following the “Intel Inside” model, supplying a range of automakers and grid operators with energy storage technology. As part of their agreement, the test also triggers a milestone payment to EEstor from Zenn, spokeswoman Catherine Scrimgeour confirmed via e-mail this morning. It’s a small payment, just $700,000, but is in addition to $1.3 million in previous payments to EEstor. Zenn can also invest up to another $5 million for a bigger equity stake now that EEStor has hit the milestone.

EEStor has yet to come out with an actual product, but over the past year has announced a successful purity test and claimed a production capacity milestone. Clifford told us this week that this permittivity test — a verification of performance characteristics under extreme temperatures — represents the third of four milestones set up (as we’ve noted before) as part of Zenn’s investment agreement. The fourth milestone is the delivery of a commercial product, Clifford said, as opposed to a lab-built demo.

So this latest milestone could help ease the concerns of investors (shares of Zenn trade on the TSX Venture Exchange in Canada). EEStor was previously set to come out with its ultracapacitors last year, but it’s running behind on that original timeline. Zenn has had to delay its car as a result of waiting on EEStor and doesn’t expect an initial introduction of the vehicle until late 2009, with commercial availability in 2010.

For Zenn to make its new timeline, it clearly needs to get its hands on an actual ultracapacitor from EEStor soon. But according to Zenn’s Scrimgeour, “No timeline has been announced” for the delivery of an energy storage unit from EEStor. So whether the successful test will actually bring the company closer to production remains to be seen.

13 Responses to “EEStor: Are We There Yet?”

  1. Reality check: wind power. A friend of my son talked us into helping build a 3 story home 40 miles up water on Rainey Lake in Canada. The battery they used for storing wind power was a fork-lift metal halide monster that was hauled in by snow mobile caravan. 5 years later and you need another caravan!!

    On the one hand, EEstor has a good thing but on the other hand they lack facilities, are underfunded, understaffed, under water, and generally are in danger of redefining the Darwin award limits for stupidity. How long would it take at current trend to get that wind power monster replaced. How long would it take to put 700 million car systems in place at current pace. Never!! Every man, woman, and child in this country should be on the street with a placard protesting. They are literally killing millions of people by their foolishness; pollution alone is a cause for worry, lead, cadmium, carbon footprint, global warming can all now be placed at the door of EEstor unless they move like a bat out of hell. So I vote we give the thing to Dr. Ovshinky at Energy Conversion Devices or to GM as a cattle prod. To start, and despite being a staunch Republican, I vote we nationalize their sorry asses and put them all in prison until hell freezes over!
    (P.S. This is what is known as a negative motivational speech, positive hasn’t worked very well.)

  2. Brendan Baghead


    This EESCAM debate can be easily settled. Enough of the press release, speculation, and news reports.



  3. fyngyrz, I think I’ll go with “common sense” and “rational thought”, over Zenn’s posturing for venture capital and stock picks, thank you very much.

  4. NC LLC:

    a) Do you actually believe that Zenn would allow a milestone test that didn’t measure a factor related to actual operation? Of course they checked it at the appropriate operating voltage. Zenn isn’t going to give out 700k on the basis of a 1v test.

    b) I’m afraid your claim of “impossible” looks pretty silly as these milestones are passed. Think I’m going to have to go with Zenn’s need for due diligence over your… expertise.

  5. Good job Rud, becuase of your comments given to B at regarding temps, they now determine that that is proof that eestor has what they claim, way to put the kabosh on that dude, nice job.

  6. In order to store the amount of energy sought by eestor, its ultra capacitor must maintain its high relative permittivity at HIGH voltage. It has always been easy to measure a high relative permittivity of an engineered materials like barium-titanate at LOW voltage, but the relative permittivities of these materials dramatically degrade at high voltage because the high electric fields lead to permanent changes in the crystal structures of the material. This occurs even if the breakdown voltage of the material is not exceeded (eestor’s previous milestone).

    Unfortunately, the eestor press release did not indicate a voltage level for the measured permittivity, so we are still in the dark as to whether eestor has found the holy grail of electric energy storage.

  7. NanoCarbons LLC

    This announcement must be read carefully. It is relative permittivity of the CMBT powder, not a component. The ASTM standard calls for 25C at 1 volt.
    This is not about a component, nor does it give the TCC, the VCC, or the breakdown voltage. It cannot, as that would require a chipcap component. Hanson’s patent on which EEStor CMBT is modeled has data on permittivity up to 25700 in actual chipcaps. But these are Y5V class components, with TCC, VCC, and breeakdown voltages impossible for an ESSU.