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Light shines on world's craziest battery company

EEstor. Think of it as a cross between Tesla Motors and the CIA.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
3 min read

If you've been working in electric transportation for a while, you'll know the name EEStor.

The company says it has a supercapacitor, which is sort of like a solid state battery, which could replace gas engines. Moreover, unlike lithium ion batteries, the supercapacitor won't take hours to recharge. It recharges rapidly.

But those are the claims. When it comes to discussing the fine points of the technology, the company clams up. I've contacted them several times and they have not responded. During a business trip to Texas in May, one reporter asked me just to do a drive-by and see if they would answer the door. He's also been rebuffed several times.

I've talked to potential customers and investors who visited the company--when it came time to talk technology, the company clammed up. "Weird", "mystery" and a shrug of the shoulders were some of the comments I got from visitors.

Most of the articles on these guys have been vague, but upbeat. Last year, the Toronto Star had a bit more detail, and EEStor threatened them, according to this post. The links to the original story no longer work.

The facilities, though, are supposed to be state-of-the-art. The place looks like a lab set up by DARPA, I'm told. That's where a lot of the money from Kleiner, Perkins apparently is going apparently.

The company in January said it hit a production milestone for the chemicals inside the unit. (Unfortunately, the minimal company Web site, which functioned in May, has gone AWOL. Still, you can find the release on the Web in other places) Rumors say that it may reveal more in September.

Then again, this Howard Hughes vanishing act could be the sign of something other than a run-up to a coming out party. EEstor wouldn't be the first alternative-energy company to come up with a delay. Miasole (another Kleiner, Perkins company) and Greenfuel Technologies have recently delayed.

Zenn Motor Company announced an investment in the company.

"We are very pleased to strengthen and deepen our strategic relationship with EEStor through this investment," said Zenn CEO Ian Clifford in a press release.

In any event, here's a patent from the company. (It's from 2006 and the only one that's been issued so far.) If you want to know more, take a look.

Some highlights from the filing:

"This invention relates generally to energy-storage devices, and relates more particularly to high-permittivity ceramic components utilized in an array configuration for application in ultrahigh-electrical-energy storage devices."

"One aspect of the present invention is that the materials used to produce the energy-storage unit, EESU, are not explosive, corrosive, or hazardous."

"Another aspect of the present invention is that the EESU initial specifications will not degrade due to being fully discharged or recharged."

"Yet another aspect of the present invention is that the coating of aluminum oxide and calcium magnesium aluminosilicate glass on calcined composition-modified barium titanate powder provides many enhancement features and manufacturing capabilities to the basis material."

Good, or too good to be true? Hopefully we will find out soon.