Lithium-ion not out of the running

Here’s a little article at Wired.com about A123 Systems’ new lithium-ion product. The gains are impressive — double the energy density, non-volatile, etc… And the product is already making its way into powertool products. It’s a reminder that there are many other energy storage breakthroughs happening out there, and while EEStor’s appears one of the most impressive so far, it’s comforting to know we’ve got some solid contenders in the pipeline.

A closer look at the promise of EEStor…

My Clean Break column in today’s Toronto Star is actually an in-depth feature on Austin, Texas-based battery startup EEStor Inc., which claims to have developed an ultracapacitor with battery storage characteristics that has 10 times the energy density of a lead-acid battery and blows away current lithium-ion technology in all aspects of performance. EEStor also claims it can mass produce its product at a fraction of the cost of its lithium-ion rivals.

Is this the real deal? EEStor itself refused to be interviewed for my story, so I cobbled together a profile based on patent documents filed with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. I also got my hands on an early investors’ presentation from EEStor. While it’s easy to be skeptical with this story, I point out in my piece that Kleiner Perkins’ involvement lends serious credibility to this venture. I also found out that Morton Topfer, former vice-chairman of Dell Computer and Michael Dell’s mentor, is on EEStor’s board along with Michael Long, a well-seasoned executive and current CEO of real-estate giant Homestore Inc. So it seems there are some very credible people backing this tiny, secretive company.

Give the story a read. You decide whether this is snake oil or a technology that has disruptive potential.