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Electrical Energy Storage Unit (EESU)

A little personal history:

I was around to see the personal computer come in and knew it was big. I was an early adopter on the World Wide Web and knew immediately that it would change the world. We are again at just such a moment where a technology innovation will change the world. The technology this time is the Electrical Energy Storage Unit (EESU) from EEStor, a small high-tech company in Texas.

The Technology:

This device is an electrical energy storage unit that will initially be used for all-electric cars for all-electric cars but will soon be seen as the key technological component that makes wind and solar power practical. The EESU replaces the battery but is a different technology, an ultra capacitor. It is four to ten times better than anything available technology today and costs only about 1/7 as much to manufacture. It will extend the range of all-electric cars to over 250 miles (400 km) on a charge, while substantially reducing the cost of the vehicles.

The basic EESU is rated at 30.7 Farads at 3,750 volts and will store 52 kWhr of electrical power. The weight is about 300 lbs and the manufacturing cost will be around $3000. The unit will charge as fast as you can push the amps into it and has no intrinsic factors that limit it lifetime. None of the required materials are toxic or very rare. The critics say these numbers are simply too good to be true.

At first glance this seems to be only converting the energy we use for transportation from oil to coal, all be it, while reducing the carbon footprint. However, after only a year or two we will be able to make transportation an integral part of a total green energy system. Right now wind and solar have the debilitating problem of their power availability not meeting the customer need in a timely manner. The power is there but it comes at the wrong time of day. This could be overcome if large amounts of power could be stored. Here is how this new device will make this possible:

Imagine a California where everybody drives electric vehicles and most people plug their cars in at night. The first thing that happens is that the car charger sell power back to the utility to cover the early evening power peak period when everybody is cooking dinner. Later, at 2:00 in the morning, the charger buys back power during the daily power use minimum. The EEStor power unit will finally make green power work!

What's next?

EEStor is a privately held company and is very secretive. Many people think the whole idea is just so much smoke and, in truth, the project has been delayed by the current recession. Fortunately, a publicly held Canadian electric car company, Zenn, has an 11% interest in EEStor and is required to make public progress reports on the project. Last July they had an independent testing company test the basic EESU subassembly for a key electrical parameter. It passed with flying colors. The science is sound.

In the last month the company has received its third patent and applied for an Under Writers listing. The next benchmark test is now scheduled for November. Again the testing will be done by an independent company and made public. This will be world changing news.

After that is it is simply a matter of the company being able to manufacture the units in large enough numbers. For this technology to work the units must be made nearly perfectly. This is comparable to building hard drives for computers. It took some years to develop HD manufacturing technology but we did and now produce hard drives in mass at amazingly low prices. The first mass produced EESU's should come off the line next spring.

Why we must watch:

Problem one: Big Oil

The day that the first EESU moves off the assembly line, the value of Big Oil's reserves and their stock will drop by many trillions of dollars. Suddenly there will be a viable alternative to their sludge. They have more money than God. It would be worth many billions of dollars to them to buy up this technology and sit on it. They could then simply discover many technical problems and drag their feet in solving them.

The way to stop this scenario is for millions of environmentalists to follow EESU developments like a hawk. The first sign of hanky-panky we must shine a spot light on the spoiler so bright that even Big Oil must back down.

Problem two: China

The materials needed to build EESU's and all-electric cars are not toxic or dangerous but a few, if not rare, are uncommon. Control these and you control the whole process. The most likely bottle neck is the Rare Earth Elements what are needed to build all-electric cars. China has the best mines for REE's in the world and has now announced restrictions on their export. The best American mine (Mountain Pass) is being reopened and expanded.

China has also announced that they plan to lead the world in climate change efforts. They are planning to build huge plants, powered by coal, to grab the lion's share of green manufacture. They will be burning coal to build green. This makes no sense. Once the EESU technology is demonstrated, it will not be too difficult for in-country companies to make small improvements, get Chinese patents, and take over the world market. We do not want to stand by and let the Chinese pirate this one.


Building a Myth around the EESU

What happens when EESU's are in wide use?

The whole EEStor invention is seen by some as a myth but not by me (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEStor ). Here I am interested in what happens when their Electrical Energy Storage Unit (EESU) become available in large numbers. If the EESU is to be used in military, aerospace, and security application it will have to withstand a bullet hit without catastrophic effects and preferably without total loss of power.

General construction

The EESU is made of thousands of ultracapacitor units about one inch by one inch by 0.2 inches. These are a layered stack of tiny spheres of barium titanate covered with aluminum oxide insulation, imbedded in a PET plastic matrix, and interleaved with metallic aluminum. The units are stacked in a cell which are in turned stacked into a subassembly about 4 inches by 6 inches by 2 inches with all the ultracapacitors wired in parallel. The subassemblies are farther mounted into a plastic box the size of a suitcase. The details of the internal structure have not be released but it is expected that the system will have features to prevent catastrophic failure such as fusible links to stop excess currents and spark gaps to discharge over voltage. Such a safety system is needed even if it places limits on the rapid charge time.

Bullet?

What would happen if a rifle bullet struck the side of a fully charged EESU?

The bullet would easily penetrate the body panels of a normal car without much lost of energy. Likewise it would penetrate the EESU outer box which is normally plastic. When it hits the power storage capacitors, get interesting. The ceramic and metal foil layered material should adsorb the energy of the bullet very well and the bullet will fragment. No more than two or three of the subassemblies should be seriously damaged.

A current surge can be expected to flow out of the damaged cells but should be limited by the over-voltage protection. A subsequent surge of current into the damaged cells should be limited by the fusible link system which should isolate them before too much power can flow in from other cells.

The bullet will leave a conductive path of metal fragment, fragments of the metal foil, and damaged fragments of the barium titanate spheres now with their aluminum oxide insulation shells breached. In the ultracapacitor configuration, the barium titanate is reasonably good conductor. The metal path will lead to collapse of much of the ultracapacitor effect which will cause a very high voltage spike. Certainly enough voltage to establish an arc through the bullet damaged area.

One might think the damaged subassemblies would simply explode, but the ultracapacitor effect has a rather show time constant. This is why they cannot be used as power supply filter caps. The high-frequency roll off is expected to be around 1/3 Hertz. This factor would have to be above 120 Hertz to be of value as a power filter. This slow response limits the speed of the voltage build up below what would be required for a real explosion.

What could be expected is the generation of an arch plasma over several hundred milliseconds that would travel right back in the direction the rifle bullet entered. In short the EESU will shoot right back at you with a ball of fire.

Memresistor?

There is a possibility that the ultracapacitor function is a memresistor effect (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memristor ). These are materials that can be programmed to exhibit an electrical characteristic and then remember it as long as the programming is not disrupted. In this case the barium titanate is being programmed to show extremely high permittivity by be heated to about 120 C with 4000 volts applied and then cooled. This process allows the spheres to align with the electric field and then freezes their orientation.

The concern is that the shock wave from the bullet strike might deprogram some part of the EESU outside the immediate damage area. The charge on the plates would momentarily remain the same but the capacitance of the effective unit would drop by several orders of magnitude. This would generate a catastrophic voltage spike in any effected units causing even more arc plasma and perhaps a cascading degeneration of the entire EESU.

Tests by other groups with other high permittivity materials are rumored to have exploded when the programming state vector was lost. In that case the state vector was a cryogenic temperature and the high permittivity programmed material simply exploded when it warmed up. The EESU components are unlikely to exceed the 120 C, 4000 Volt programming configuration unless of course the whole box is put in a fire.

The Getaway

In any case, what we need is an internal safety system that will isolate damaged sections of the EESU while preserving at least enough charge for use in a fast getaway.


Join the Watch:

Let us make sure that this key technology for green energy makes it to market in a timely manner. Join me in an EEStor watch through this fall and into next spring.

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