EEStor

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EEStor is a company based in Cedar Park, Texas, United States that claims to have developed capacitor for electricity storage, which EEStor calls the 'Electrical Energy Storage Unit' (EESU).[1] Key to the increased energy density of the device is not improved charge density, but dramatically higher operating voltages.

The company claimed that the EESU stored more energy than lithium-ion batteries at a lower cost than lead-acid batteries used in gasoline powered cars. Such a device would revolutionize the electric car industry. However, the company has repeatedly missed research deadlines and still has not publicly demonstrated the technology. Despite this, EEStor's partner, Zenn motors, raised CAD$2 million from investors primarily on the promise of EEstor's technology.[2]

Claimed specifications[edit]

The claims are described in detail in two of the company's patents, US 7033406 [3] and US 7466536 .[4]

The following is how the EESU is claimed to compare to electrochemical batteries used for electric cars:[5]

Ceramic EESU NiMH Lead-acid(Gel) Lithium-ion
Weight (kg/lbs) 135/300 780/1716 1660/3646 340/752
Volume (litres/cubic inches) 74.5/4541 293/17,881 705/43,045 93.5/5697
Self-discharge rate 0.02%/30 days 5%/30 days 1%/30 days 1%/30 days
EV Charging time (full) - 100% charge 3-6 min > 3.0 h 3-15 h > 3.0 h
Life Reduced with deep cycle use none very high high very high
Hazardous Materials none yes yes yes
Temperature vs. effect on energy storage negligible high very high high

Status and delays[edit]

Several delays in production have occurred and there has not been a public demonstration of the uniquely high energy density claims of the inventors.[6] This has led to the speculation that the claims are false. In January 2007 EEStor stated in a press release "EEStor, Inc. remains on track to begin shipping production 15 kilowatt-hour Electrical Energy Storage Units (EESU) to ZENN Motor Company in 2007 for use in their electric vehicles."[7] In September 2007, EEStor co-founder Richard Weir told CNET production would begin in the middle of 2008.[8] In August 2008, it was reported he stated "as soon as possible in 2009".[9] ZENN Motor Company (ZMC) denied there was a delay, just a clarification of the schedule, separating "development" and "commercialization".[10] In March 2008 Zenn stated in a quarterly report a "late 2009" launch was scheduled for an EEStor-enabled EV.[11] In December 2009 Zenn announced that production of the lead acid based ZENN LSV would end April 30, 2010. At that time Zenn did not announce a date for production of an EEstor based car.[12]

In April 2009 EEStor announced third-party certification of permittivity. The press release did not mention the voltage at which it was tested, so EEStor's uniquely high energy density claims remain to be demonstrated.[13][14]

In July 2009 ZENN Motor Company, as a result of the April 2009 permittivity tests, invested an additional $5 million in EEStor, increasing its share of ownership to 10.7%.[15] A Zenn press release indicates they were able to get a 10.7% stake because other EEStor investors did not increase their stake.[16]

In January 2013 EEStor released a press release that included test results of four samples of dielectric layers tested by System Engineering and Laboratories ("SEAL"). One sample showed a permittivity of 162,291 and an energy density (dielectric layer only) of 73.90 (W.h/L). This sample was tested at 1500 volts.[17]

On June 5, 2013 EEStor, Inc. had Criteria Labs certify certain aspects of a current layer of its electrical energy storage unit (EESU) that had been produced on April 29, 2013 using new materials that provided both high capacitance and high resistance simultaneously. The following data from new layer material was certified by Criteria Labs on June 5, 2013: Average capacitance of the four layers = 0.22 µF, Average Resistance of the four layers = 10.7 MΩ. Subsequently, on June 26, 2013 EEStor, Inc. had the area and thickness of the new material layer certified by TesCom at EEStor, Inc. using TesCom calibrated EEStor, Inc. equipment. The following data from new layer material was certified by TesCom:Average thickness of the four layers = 25.1 µm. The area of each of the four layers = 0.403 cm2. The average volume of the four layers = 0.00101 cm3. Using the certified capacitance, area, thickness, and volume the following relative permittivity was calculated:The average relative permittivity of the four layers = 15,476.[18]

Skepticism from experts[edit]

EEStor's claims for the EESU exceed by orders of magnitude the energy storage capacity of any capacitor currently sold. Many in the industry have expressed skepticism about the claims. Jim Miller, vice president of advanced transportation technologies at Maxwell Technologies and capacitor expert, stated he was skeptical because of current leakage typically seen at high voltages and because there should be microfractures from temperature changes. He stated "I'm surprised that Kleiner has put money into it."[19]

Patent description and claims[edit]

EEStor reports a large relative permittivity (19818) at an unusually high electric field strength of 350 MV/m, giving 10,000 J/cm3 in the dielectric. Voltage independence of permittivity was claimed up to 500 V/μm to within 0.25% of low voltage measurements. Variation in permittivity at a single voltage for 10 different components was claimed by measurements in the patent to be less than +/- 0.15%.[4] If true, their capacitors store at least 30 times more energy per volume than (other) cutting-edge methods such as nanotube designs by Dr Schindall at M.I.T.,[20] Dr. Ducharme's plastics research,[21] and breakthrough ceramics discussed by Dr. Cann.[22] In such a strong electric field, the permittivity usually decreases due to dielectric saturation, or the dielectric may break down, causing a short circuit between the capacitor electrodes.[citation needed] Northrop Grumman and BASF have also filed patents with similar theoretical energy density claims.[23][24] EEStor has the only patent which claims to have actually measured the high energy density in sample components.[citation needed]

The EEStor patents cite a journal article[25] and a Philips Corporation patent[26] as exact descriptions of its "calcined composition-modified barium titanate powder." The Philips patent describes "doped barium-calcium-zirconium-titanate" (CMBT) and reports a permittivity of up to 33,500 at 1.8 V/μm, but does not report the permittivity at high electric fields such as the 350 V/μm EEStor claims. EEStor coats its 0.64 micrometer (average size) CMBT particles with 10 nm aluminum oxide (6% by volume) and immerses them in 6% PET plastic by volume, giving 88% CMBT. The patent claims the aluminum oxide coating and PET matrix reduce the net permittivity to 88% of the CMBT permittivity. The Philips patent did not use either aluminum oxide or PET. The dielectric in solution is screen-printed and dried in 10 μm layers, alternating with 1 μm aluminum plates (used to apply the working 3500 V).

A July 2008 press release[citation needed] states the PET plastic matrix allows for better crystal polarization and that this "along with other proprietary processing steps provides the potential of a polarization saturation voltage required by EEStor, Inc." The patent states this is done at 180 °C with 4000 V.

EEStor's US patent 7033406 mentions aluminum oxide and calcium magnesium aluminosilicate glass as coatings,[3] although their subsequent US patent 7466536 mentions only aluminum oxide.[4] Nickel was mentioned in the earlier US patent as the electrode but the later patent uses 1 μm aluminum plates as a less expensive alternative. According to the patents, both changes were made possible by selecting the PET matrix because it is pliable enough to fill voids at only 180 °C.

Partnerships[edit]

In July 2005, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers invested $3 million in EEStor.[27][28]

In April 2007, ZENN Motor Company, a Canadian electric vehicle manufacturer, invested $2.5 million in EEStor for 3.8% ownership and exclusive rights to distribute their devices for passenger and utility vehicles weighing up to 1,400 kg (excluding capacitor mass), along with other rights.[29] In July 2009, Zenn invested another $5 million for a 10.7% stake.[30] A Zenn press release indicates they were able to get a 10.7% stake because other EEStor investors did not increase their stake.[16] Zenn has received $34 million from the equity markets in the past 3 years, and spent $10.1 million of the proceeds on EEStor ownership and technology rights.[30] In December 2009 Zenn canceled plans for the car but plans to supply the drive train.[12] By April 2010, Zenn had cancelled all production of electric vehicles, leaving ownership of EEStor and their rights to the technology as their focus.[12] Zenn raised CAD$2 million in April of 2012, mostly on the promise of EEStor's technology.[2]

In January 2008, Lockheed-Martin signed an agreement with EEStor for the exclusive rights to integrate and market EESU units in military and homeland security applications.[31] In December 2008, a patent application was filed by Lockheed-Martin that mentions EEStor's patent as a possible electrical energy storage unit.[32]

In September 2008, Light Electric Vehicles Company announced an agreement with EEStor to exclusively provide EEStor's devices for the two and three wheel market.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Signs Agreement with EESTOR, Inc., for Energy Storage Solutions". Lockheed Martin. 2008-01-09. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  2. ^ a b Tim Kiladze (April 19, 2012). "Zenn raises $2-million, without its electric car". Globe and Mail. Retrieved April 27, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b US patent 7033406, Weir; Richard Dean & Nelson; Carl Walter, "Electrical-energy-storage unit (EESU) utilizing ceramic and integrated-circuit technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries", issued 25 April 2006, assigned to EEStor, Inc 
  4. ^ a b c US patent 7466536, Weir; Richard Dean & Nelson; Carl Walter, "Utilization of poly(ethylene terephthalate) plastic and composition-modified barium titanate powders in a matrix that allows polarization and the use of integrated-circuit technologies for the production of lightweight ultrahigh electrical energy storage units (EESU)", published 16 December 2008, issued 16 December 2008, assigned to EEStor, Inc 
  5. ^ a b "Zennergy". Zennergy.com. 21 April 2011. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  6. ^ "Zenn/EESTOR Update - April 22, 2010". gm-volt.com. 2010-04-22. Retrieved 2011-05-21. 
  7. ^ "EEStor Announces Two Key Production Milestones: Automated Production Line Proven and Third Party Verification of All Key Production Chemicals Completed". Marketwire.com. 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  8. ^ Kanellos, Michael (2007-09-04). "''Is EEStor delaying its power system for cars?'' - September 4, 2007". news.com. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  9. ^ "Better Batteries Charge Up". Technology Review. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  10. ^ "Official Response from Zenn on delay of EEStor (under Comment section written by afjerry on 09/11/2007 at 9:47 PM)". 2007-09-11. 
  11. ^ "ZENN : Management's Discussion and Analysis". Zenncars.com. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  12. ^ a b c "Zenn Motor Company Updates on Realignment of Its Business Operations". Zenncars.com. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  13. ^ "EEStor, Inc. Announces Relative Permittivity Certification of Their Composition Modified Barium-Titanate Powders". Prnewswire.com. 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  14. ^ "Update to EEStor Press Release on Permittivity". Sev.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  15. ^ "ZENN Motor Company increases ownership of EEStor". Emediaworld.com. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  16. ^ a b "News Release : Zenn Motor Company's Strategic Energy Storage Partner, EESTOR Inc. Confirms Progress Towards Commercialization of Its Technology". Zenncars.com. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  17. ^ [1][dead link]
  18. ^ [2][dead link]
  19. ^ "Battery Breakthrough?". Technology Review. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  20. ^ [3][dead link]
  21. ^ "Stephen Ducharme". Physics.unl.edu. 1996-07-09. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  22. ^ "High Energy Density Dielectrics Based on Bi-Perovskites | Department of Physics". Physics.orst.edu. 2009-04-29. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  23. ^ US application 2007121274 
  24. ^ US 7023687 
  25. ^ S. A. Bruno, D. K. Swanson, and I. Burn, J. Am Ceram. Soc. 76, 1233 (1993)
  26. ^ US 6078494 
  27. ^ Gunther, Marc; Lashinsky, Adam (26 November 2007). "Cleanup Crew" (PDF). Fortune. p. 82. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  28. ^ Hibbard, Justin (3 September 2005). "Kleiner Perkins' Latest Energy Investment". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  29. ^ "ZENN Motor Company Makes Equity Investment in Strategic Partner, EEStor, Inc.". Marketwire. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  30. ^ a b "Zenn 2009 3rd Quarter report". Zenncars.com. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  31. ^ "Lockheed Martin Signs Agreement with EEStor, Inc., for Energy Storage Solutions". Pressmediawire. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  32. ^ WO application 2008156903 
  33. ^ "Light Electric Vehicles Company : Press Release". Lightevs.com. Retrieved 2013-11-06.