EEStor Ultracapacitor 'Battery' And Heinlein's Shipstone

EEStor, a start-up based in Austin, is hoping to begin shipment of a radical new battery replacement - an ultracapacitor or supercapacitor - that could actually power a small car for a reasonable distance.

Energy storage is the problem that has bedeviled the electric car industry; batteries take hours to charge and people don't want to wait more than a few minutes at a station.

Ultracapacitors (also called supercapacitors) solve this problem by combining the best of batteries (storage of a large charge) with capacitors (quick recharge and discharge).

Supercapacitors have been around for a while; the first recognized device was developed in 1957 by General Electric. Interestingly, the Standard Oil Company patented a similar device in 1966.

Does EEStor's device really work? ZENN Motor, a firm based in Toronto, Canada, thinks so and has backed up their belief with 3.8 million dollars in venture capital.

EEStor's secret ingredient is a material sandwiched between thousands of wafer-thin metal sheets, like a series of foil-and-paper gum wrappers stacked on top of each other. Charged particles stick to the metal sheets and move quickly across EEStor's proprietary material.

This device may remind readers of the Shipstone, a manufactured "battery" that was shipped from the factory with enormous charges built in.

The Shipstone complex is mammoth, all right, because they supply cheap power to billions of people who want cheap power and want more of it every year. But it is not a monopoly because they don't own any power; they just package it and ship it around to wherever people want it...
(Read more about Heinlein's Shipstone)

Shipstones also came in very small, "lifetime power" versions for home tools and appliances.

Interested in science-fictional vehicles? Try these real-life counterparts:

Via Sydney Morning Herald. Thanks to an anonymous reader who contributed the tip.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/7/2007)

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