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February 27, 2009

Energy Revolution Brewing or Vaporware in the (un)Making?

Isaac Lopez

It seems like since 1993, when the Internet got such a foothold on the imagination of the world, there’s always been the rumor of the next great disruptive technology lurking right around the corner. Many of these “any moment now” innovations never seem to come, and become relics in the vaporware dust bin of history.

But signs are promising from one vaporware contestant, EEstor. In case you aren’t familiar with this company — which has no Web site, doesn’t make public statements, and prefers not to receive any press – it is said to be working on a solid-state rechargeable ultracapcitor battery that stores at least 10 times more power than a lead/acid battery for about the same cost and has a virtually limitless ability to recharge. If that doesn’t pique your interest, this might: it supposedly recharges to full power in about five minutes – the time it takes to fill up a gas tank.

The company has had some apparent delays in the past few years and has cultivated its fair share of skepticism along the way. But recent developments have made it clear that Lockheed Martin and General Motors may not be among the naysayers.

According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Lockheed Martin has an exclusive agreement to market electrical power-storage units developed by EEStor Inc. for military and homeland-security applications. Likewise, General Motors is now admitting a “working relationship” with EEstor for its battery-powered Chevy Volt.

Its patent reads like a science fiction novel, and the technology sounds promising past the point of electric cars and military applications. Racks of these rechargeable batteries could mean a revolution in how residential, commercial and industrial power is generated and delivered.

From the most recent EEstor patent:

None of the EESU materials used … will explode when being recharged or impacted. Thus the EESU is a safe product when used in electric vehicles, buses, bicycles, tractors, or any device that is used for transportation or to perform work, portable tools of all kinds, portable computers, or any device or system that requires electrical energy storage.

It could also be used for storing electrical power generated from electrical energy generating plants, solar voltaic cells, wind-powered electrical energy generating units, or other alternative sources on the utility grids of the world for residential, commercial, or industrial applications.

The power averaging capability of banks of EESU devices with the associated input/output converters and control circuits will provide significant improvement of the utilization of the power generating plants and transmission lines on the utility grids of the world. The EESU devices along with input/output converters and control circuits will also provide power averaging for all forms of alternative energy producing technology, but specifically wind and solar will have the capability to provide constant electrical power due to the EESU storing sufficient electrical energy that will meet the requirements of residential, commercial, and industrial sites.

That’s impressive (if true). This is the type of technology development that would have the potential to touch every industry and every walk of life imaginable. But coming back to earth, nothing has happened yet. As noted earlier, the company has already faced delays, but expects its capacitor to make a debut in Toronto-based Zenn Motor Company’s “CityZENN” automobile in late 2009.

In the meantime, don’t forget to hit the lights on your way out.