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500 Miles on a 5-Minute Recharge? 854

Posted by timothy
from the sure-just-get-in-the-electric-missile-launcher dept.
ctroutwi writes "In the wake of rising gasoline costs there have been plenty of alternatives seen on the horizon. Including Hybrids, Biofuels, fuel cells and battery powered all electric cars. CNN has recently posted a story about a company (EEStor) that plans on offering UltraCapacitor storage products. The claim being that you charge the ultracapacitor in 5 minutes, with approximately $9 of electricity and then drive 500 miles."
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500 Miles on a 5-Minute Recharge?

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  • by Catamaran (106796) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:05PM (#16188993)
    I'm not sure about these long distance claims, you would probably need a huge capacitor, but it doesn't matter because really we don't need to go such long distances on a single charge.

    How about a system in which cars connect to electric lines along the highways, like they use for electric busses and trollies, and use ultra-capacitors to get from the highway to your home? The capacitors could charge while you are on the highway, and then you would only need enough charge to go 5-10 miles.

    • by Golias (176380) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:10PM (#16189073)
      How about a system in which cars connect to electric lines along the highways, like they use for electric busses and trollies, and use ultra-capacitors to get from the highway to your home?

      Behold the future. [rides4u.com]
      • I'm thinking of a system more like this... [slotcarcorner.com]
    • by wcb4 (75520) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:10PM (#16189083)
      I am old enough to remember city streets in places with overhead power lines for this. Its ugly. Why? I get 500 miles on a tank of gas (13.5 gallons and 29 miles to the gallon) so why not just let me pull into a service station, which now takes almost 5 minutes for a full tank, and plug in... charge me $20 for the charge, make the 100% profit ($9 for the elec, $9 profit, 2$ to cover overhead)... I end up better off they end up better off (distribution now done by the existing power lines, no need for trucks) and eventually, when we figure out how to make electricity cleaner (or convert part of of grid to wind or water turbine or whatever) the environment would be better off. Sounds like a win/win/win situtation
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Politburo (640618)
        I am old enough to remember city streets in places with overhead power lines for this.

        Uh.. we're all old enough. They still exist. Philly, Seattle, Vancouver, Newark/Jersey City, Houston, Dallas, Baltimore.. there are many others.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by eric76 (679787)
        It might be easier to just electrify the roadways themselves.

        That would take care of hitchhikers and wild animals, too.
    • I'm not sure about these long distance claims, you would probably need a huge capacitor

      The whole idea behind an ultracapacitor is that it stores significantly more energy than a regular capacitor.

      Linky:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultracapacitors [wikipedia.org]
    • Highway tolls are outrageous enough, but atleast I can reduce the cost of my trip by buying a more efficient car. If we had to run off highway lines like electric busses (or cars in the Super Mario Bros. movie, blech) We'd all be paying the same (likely extravegant) rate. Then you also have people who actually buy cars/trucks for work like farming, construction, or just a camping trip. I don't think they'd enjoy cars that rely on the Highway supply and ultra-capacitors that only get you from highway to home
      • by Catamaran (106796)
        I agree, there will always be a need for long-distance vehicles.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rainman_bc (735332)
        If we had to run off highway lines like electric busses (or cars in the Super Mario Bros. movie, blech) We'd all be paying the same (likely extravegant) rate.

        Hmmm... Here in Vancouver, I see busses all the time get disconnected from over head power lines. The driver has to get out, line up his connection again to the power line, before he can drive away. Traffic in the meantime gets backed up because everyone is waiting for this bus, stuck in the middle of a left turn.

        While your idea is good on paper, im
    • There are places in the west where a 500 mile range would be very useful. I've driven several 100+ sections of interstate, and it's probably an extra 50 miles to the next station beyond that.

      How difficult will it be to deliver that much power (for an interstate!) to a remote location? What if that station is down for some reason?

      P.S., in the worst cases you learn to fill up at every station. It's not that the distance to the next service station is so long, it's that the road may be blocked (rockslide, a
    • the up front cost for infrastructure would be prohibitive
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dr. Eggman (932300)
        So would the infrastructure for switching to a hydrogen economy, but we're going to need something in the future. I doubt there are many if any choices that can utilize the current infrastructure.
    • by soft_guy (534437) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:18PM (#16189241)
      I'm not sure about these long distance claims, you would probably need a huge capacitor, but it doesn't matter because really we don't need to go such long distances on a single charge.
      How about a system in which cars connect to electric lines along the highways, like they use for electric busses and trollies, and use ultra-capacitors to get from the highway to your home? The capacitors could charge while you are on the highway, and then you would only need enough charge to go 5-10 miles.


      I would find a car that does not have a 300+ mile range to be totally unacceptable. Your idea of having the car be attached to a power line is not very practical because there are not many roads that have these kind of power lines. Also, if you have ever watched the bus driver connect and disconnect a bus from these lines, you would realize that this is not a solution that would work for private cars due to the larger number of cars on the road. It would block traffic in an unacceptable way. The reason why busses run on these kinds of lines is typically because of air pollution - often the buses have to go through tunnels where the exhaust would cause huge problems. Also, busses run in major cities which have a legal requirement to reduce pollution to meet EPA requirements.

      Busses go on a few known routes over and over. Private cars have a different requirement - they must go on any road for 300+ miles at a time. They must not block traffic.

      If someone has developed a storage system for electricity that allows $9 of electricity to be transferred into the storage unit in 5 minutes - that is a huge advancement over the current technology. It would do a lot to make electric cars practical.
    • >system in which cars connect to electric lines along the highways

      would work for me, I already wondered how to be a free-loader on the ultra-high voltage powerlines. Just need a flexibile input voltage charger, and some metal filiment fishing line, oh and a good faraday cage for the driver. just shoot a arrow/kite over the existing power line trailing the wire, ground just enough to charge, when your done you ground your end of the line, and poof one lightning bolt evaporates the charging line.

      now this
    • How about a system in which cars connect to electric lines along the highways

      My entire hick town wouldn't buy into this "cars on rails" philosophy. How are you going to be able to go mudding in a Corn Field?
  • I*V=P (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    " The claim being that you charge the ultracapacitor in 5 minutes, with approximately $9 of electricity and then drive 500 miles.""

    Current and voltage?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      At 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, $9.00 is 90 kilowatt-hours, or a little over a million watts in five minutes.

      This is what happens when you have a faith-based scientific curriculum in public high schools. The populace becomes vulnerable to all kinds of interesting scams.
      • Re:I*V=P (Score:5, Informative)

        by Webmoth (75878) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:00PM (#16191213) Homepage
        Let's expand the math for a little bit. First, let's assume a national (USA) average of $0.09/kWh, as that makes the math a little easier. Nine bucks divided by 9 cents per kilowatt-hour equals 100 kilowatt-hours. 100 kilowatt-hours of energy dispensed over five minutes represents a power draw of 1200 kilowatts, or 1.2 megawatts, roughly one one-hundredth the capacity of the now-decomissioned Trojan Nuclear Power Plant [wikipedia.org] near Porland, Oregon. Divide that by the standard US voltage of 240V AC, and you have a current draw of 5000 amps.

        That requires some fat-ass wires.

        As most homes in the US have a 200A electrical service, this represents the power draw of approximately 25 homes loaded to capacity. Further considering that the National Electrical Code requires that continuous load of a circuit be 20% less than the rating of the circuit (typical peak load would therefore be 160A), and that average peak load will probably be closer to 100A, this battery will represent to the electrical system a load equal to 30-50 homes!

        I guess it's time for everyone to build nuclear power plants in their back yards.
    • Re:I*V=P (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pclminion (145572) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:47PM (#16191977)

      Current and voltage?

      You can figure it out if you're willing to make educated guesses.

      Assuming 6.2 cents per kilowatt-hour (price in my state), $9 of power is about 145 kilowatt-hours. This energy is delivered in 5 minutes according to the article. 145 KWh / 5 minutes = 1.74 megawatts AVERAGE charging power.

      But that's AVERAGE. Because this is a capacitor (albeit an "ultra" one), it charges in an exponential fashion. The peak charging power during the first few seconds of charging is going to be SIGNIFICANTLY higher than 1.74 megawatts. How MUCH higher depends on the impedance of the charging system.

      The real value missing here is capacitance. If we knew that, we could work out peak charging currents for given fixed charging voltages, or vice versa. According to Wiki, the "largest capacitance" of an ultra capacitor is 2.6 kilofarads. Using this as a reasonable but arbitrary number, we can set the total energy equal to CV^2 / 2 and figure out the charge voltage: 633 volts.

      Okay, so we have a capacitance of 2.6 kilofarads, a charging voltage of 633 volts, and a charging time of 5 minutes. Further, we have to assume some percentage charge on the capacitor -- it never reaches 100% charge because it charges exponentially, so let's say it charges to 99%. We can use that to figure out the impedance of the charging system using the equation for a charging capacitor: 1-exp(-t/RC)=0.99. Let t = 5 minutes, C = 2.6 kilofarads, and we get a charging impedance (value of R) of 0.06 ohms.

      Whoo! Now you can compute the peak charging power (at the very beginning of the charge cycle), which is V^2/R = about 6.5 megawatts. That's 10550 amps. And some of that power is lost as heat in the (very large) wires you'll need to do this -- what fraction of the total is lost as heat is left as an exercise for the reader ;-) But suffice it to say, that heat loss will be at a MAXIMUM when the wire resistance is equal to half the charging impedance, so it implies that the resistance of the wire has to be a lot less than 0.03 ohms.

      Feel free to work through it using your own numbers pulled from your own butt, if you want.

  • by Phreakiture (547094) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:07PM (#16189015) Homepage

    I'll say the same thing here that I said on tribe.net when this came up.... How much electricity is "$9 worth"? Is that at 4 cents per kWh, or 25 cents per kWh? Electricity is found at both thos prices, and every price in between, in different places in the US, and I want to know how much electricity this car uses, not how much it costs some undefined person at some undefined location.

    • by dakryx (646923)
      Well considering the journalist who wrote the article is based out of San Francisco, I would assume its based off the cost per kilowatt hour in San Francisco.
      • Well considering the journalist who wrote the article is based out of San Francisco, I would assume its based off the cost per kilowatt hour in San Francisco.

        That's not much.

      • by misleb (129952) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:20PM (#16189281)
        Most likely the journalist was just repeating the claim from the manufacturer who found the cheapest electricity available and based hte claim on that. It would indeed be nice to know how much electricity this capacitor holds.

        -matthew

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bobdapunk (190639)
      The majority of people reading this article will not bother to look up the current kWh price and then determine the overall cost of 'filling' the device. So I think it is completely reasonable to state an example of how much it costs for a full charge to demonstrate the price savings (although I too would like to know the overall capacity and discharge rate). One just hopes the company is not using the lowest kWh price possible to sensationalize the price savings.
    • by CrazyTalk (662055)
      Then you, sir, are in the minority. Most people (i.e. the general public) can better relate to how much it is going to cost them to drive 500 miles than how many kWh this represents. Presumably (if they were honest) they used some form of average of residential electricity rates - if not, they prolly used the cheapest rate they could find.
    • by 2short (466733)
      They have marketing savy to know X kilowatts doesn't mean as much to people as $9, but exactly what kWh to dollar ratio they are using doesn't strike me as the biggest problem with their claims.

      They propose to increase the performance of electric cars by several orders of magnitude. They reference technologies that have barely reached the lab demonstration phase, to which they propose to make vaugely described radical improvements, and deliver as a product next year. There is no prototype to be seen. I
  • by krell (896769) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:09PM (#16189047) Journal
    As long as you get the ultrafluxcapacitor car going at 88 mph, you can go anywhen... ahem anywhere.
  • 1.2 Megawatts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stone Rhino (532581) <<mparke> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:09PM (#16189053) Homepage Journal
    $9 of electricity is about 100 KWh at national average rates. Passing that in 9 minutes gives you an average rate of 1.2 megawatts. What the hell knid of household has the circuit to handle that?
    • Re:1.2 Megawatts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aleksiel (678251) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:11PM (#16189095)
      what kind of a home has a gasoline pump? i'd imagine there would be special places along the roads that you plug into, just like how it works now.
    • by User 956 (568564)
      Passing that in 9 minutes gives you an average rate of 1.2 megawatts. What the hell knid of household has the circuit to handle that?

      Well, possibly Doc Brown's house, for one. And then there's the town hall....
    • by rblum (211213)
      It's clearly 1.21 Gigawatts. Your math must be off ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mark-t (151149)
      If this were real, which I currently highly doubt, the idea would be that you wouldn't charge it at home, you'd go to charging stations and charge there. If it only took 5 minutes to recharge, the time is not a problem as it's a similar amount of time to fill up with gasoline anyways.
    • He means "5 minutes". And he's correct.

      100 kWhs == 3,600,000 joules

      3,600,000 joules / (5 * 60) = 1,200,000 joules/per second [google.com]

      1,200,000 joules/per second == 1.2 mW [google.com]
    • Re:1.2 Megawatts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Golias (176380) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:17PM (#16189213)
      $9 of electricity is about 100 KWh at national average rates. Passing that in 9 minutes gives you an average rate of 1.2 megawatts. What the hell knid of household has the circuit to handle that?

      I would be terrified to even stand near such a fueling station, let alone use one or install it in my home.

      Imagine the mortal dread of having your 1.2 megawatt car running low on power during a rainstorm.

      For all it's potential energy, at least liquid gasoline is relatively stable and safe. Gasoline car crashes generally only cause explosions in the movies. Unless it's an old Ford Pinto, or a truck being tested on NBC's "Dateline."
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gurps_npc (621217)
        Gasoline is not inherently safe, it is safe because of how we build the system. Things like auto-deactivate gaspumps.

        Similarly, if we build an electrical infrastructure, we would make it safe.

        Not that hard to do. Drive into an enclosed area, with multiple ben franklin rods, close the door, plug the car in. and let it power up. Disconnect, open the doors, drive out.

        • Re:1.2 Megawatts (Score:5, Informative)

          by Golias (176380) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:07PM (#16190265)
          Gasoline, in liquid form, is not explosive, nor does it burn all that fast. That's why gasoline fires take so damn long to extinguish.

          It only becomes a powerful explosive in vapor form. Cars force tiny trickles of it at a time into vapor with carberators or fuel injections systems. Otherwise, the stuff is just as safe to be around as pretty much any flamable liquid, including vodka, paint thinner, lamp oil, etc.

          The kind of wattage we are talking about to charge these cars, however, is the sort of thing utility companies typically put barbed-wire fences around to keep people the fuck away from it.

          Maybe you could rig up a system where I park my car on a conveyer belt, and go inside the station for a nice cup of coffee while it is pulled into a fully-automated charging station and then rolled out to be boarded when it's done.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Phat_Tony (661117)
        Enough power to kill you is enough power to kill you. If you're dead anyway, who cares if you've just had a heart attack and otherwise appear untouched, or if you've been converted entirely to plasma and been atomized? There's enough power to kill you all over the place.

        Even if you have some irrational fear of strong power, many commercial buildings have three-phase 440 volt power running through low-gauge wire on high-amp breakers- the kind of power they'll need for charging these cars. But people rarely
      • by Ucklak (755284) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:34PM (#16190737)
        Ha!

        What would car crashes look like in the movies in the future with these cars?

        A blinding light, a loud "BZZZZZT!", and a mess of welded metal with organic matter fused to it.
        Of course the good guys would be able to cut themselves out or break away and the bad guys would have their limbs and face in various places of the ex-vehicle.
    • by Tackhead (54550)
      > $9 of electricity is about 100 KWh at national average rates. Passing that in 9 minutes gives you an average rate of 1.2 megawatts. What the hell knid of household has the circuit to handle that?

      The kind of household that has a petroleum distillate conductor wrapped around a thick rubber insulator. Fuel is stored in an underground tank. There are probably a few places like that within a mile or two.

      An electric fueling station would probably require a similar-diameter conductor around a thick ru

    • Re:1.2 Megawatts (Score:4, Insightful)

      by OwnedByTwoCats (124103) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:25PM (#16189363)
      200 amp service * 220 volts (hot-to-hot) = 44,000 watts.

      Recharging 100,000 watt-hours in 5 minutes = 1,200,000 watts.

      So the answer is, collectively, the mains feeding 27 households.

      I'll let someone more familiar with the NEC spec how thick the conductors have to be.

      I doubt that the company will be able to fulfill their claims.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Cid Highwind (9258)
      Taking that one step farther... The maximum current a circuit using 0000AWG copper wire (11.5mm diameter, the largest I can find specs for online) should carry is 380 amps. That means you have to run the charger at about 3200 volts to deliver 1.2MW of power. I think this would be the end of self-serve fueling, the first driver who shorts a 380A 3.2kV capacitor charger with part of their body is going to become a very messy warning to others.
    • Re:1.2 Megawatts (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ltbarcly (398259) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:05PM (#16190237)
      (1.3 * (10 ** 8) joules * 16 * .25) / ((12 000 volts) * 60 amperes) = 12.037037 minutes

      That is to say:

      (energy in 1 gallon of gasoline * 16 gallons * efficiency of most cars) / ('reasonable' voltage * 'reasonable' amperage) = 12 minutes.

      That is to say:

      You could fill your tank without being rediculous at all, although at much higher energy levels than you would have at your house. At your house you could safely draw:

      1.3 * 10**8 joules * 16 * .25 / (220volts * 60amps) = 10.9427609 hours

      if you had a special outlet installed in your garage. (this is about the same as a big AC unit) and so you could recharge each night.

      Moving things around we get:
      (((220 volts) * 60 amperes) * (10.94 hours) * (.11 U.S. dollars)) / (1 000 * (watt * hour)) = 15.88488 U.S. dollars

      So you could recharge this thing for about 15 dollars a night, assuming you completely discharge it. Since you can reasonably charge it yourself you can either buy electricity cheaply near a power plant or if you are the only one around with one of these cars you can just charge it yourself. Good deal, safe buy.

      This assumes 100% efficiency, so scale it up by 1/efficiency to get a more accurate number. As long as efficiency is more than about 40% it is cheaper than gasoline. And of course it pollutes less (or at worse if you have coal it pollutes somewhere else, which is better for 99% of people, who don't live next to an old coal plant).

      Finally, the complexity of an electric car is much much much less than a gasoline car. No exhaust, no belts, no cooling system (except for the electric ac), no transmission really, no power steering or brake fluids, no oil, etc etc.

      A washing machine and an electrical generator are about equivilent in complexity to an electic car and a gas powered car respectively. With an electric car you can expect to repair it every few years for about 400 dollars a pop, just like a washing machine breaks every few years for about 60 dollars a pop ($5 if you repair it yourself, or about $30 for the electric car). Electrical generators are complicated and break down all the time, and are expensive to buy and maintain, just like gas cars.

      Plus electric cars will be much lighter, as much as 40%. That directly leads to efficiency. Plus with no engine, instead of wasted space you get an extra trunk, or the car company can redesign the car drastically (assuming batteries/whatever are arranged along the floor of the car for optimal low center of gravity).

      Finally, the only limit to the HP of an electric car is the size of the motor(s), and so you could have anywhere between 200 and 800 HP in a standard car.

      Where do I sign up?
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:10PM (#16189069)
    Hate to see the short that could occur if this car was in the wrong kind of accident.
  • by User 956 (568564) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:10PM (#16189079) Homepage
    CNN has recently posted a story about a company (EEStor) that plans on offering UltraCapacitor storage products. The claim being that you charge the ultracapacitor in 5 minutes, with approximately $9 of electricity and then drive 500 miles.

    This is simply shocking news.
  • I'm not sure how this will work. Considering the amount of energy their capacitor must store, and the 5-minute time frame, the power [wikipedia.org] requirements (power is energy over time) must be enormous, far beyound the limits that a household electrical circuit can supply.
    • We don't refuel our gasoline cars at home. Maybe we won't "refuel" our electric cars at home either.
  • by Doctor Memory (6336) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:13PM (#16189137)
    If you're going to push enough electricity to "drive a four-seat sedan like a Ferrari" in five minutes, you're going to have to move several hundred volts at lots of amps. Hope you don't have to stop for a charge in the rain, there's no way I'd want to be around both water and that kind of current!
  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:13PM (#16189141) Homepage Journal
    Exploding laptop batteries are one thing, but exploding fully-charged ultracapacitors, now you are talking real damage.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:15PM (#16189187) Journal
    500 miles? Let us say the hybrid has the efficiency similar to Prius, 50 MPG. To go 500 miles you need to store as much energy as there is in 10 gallons of gasoline. 10 gallons of gas, is 37.5 litres of gas, that is 30 Kg of gas.

    Energy content of gasoline is 45 MJ/Kg. That means you are storing 1.35e09 Joules of energy. You are charging it in 5 minutes? So dividing by 300 seconds, the Power rating for the charger is 4500000 Watts or 4.5 MW. If you try to charge it from your friendly neighbourhood 110V line, the amp rating for the plug is drum roll please, 40909 Amps

    Now think when you are pumping 25 gallons of gas into that Hummer in 3 minutes, you have a 8 MW device in your hands!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Sorry to follow up to my own post. Typos galore. Subject line should read 40,000 Amp. not 4000. And pumping 25 gallons of gas in 3 minuts is 18.75 MegaWatts.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SuperBanana (662181)

      To go 500 miles you need to store as much energy as there is in 10 gallons of gasoline.

      Not true. You're forgetting that electric vehicles are substantially more efficient, even after motor/controller/charging losses. The Prius isn't an accurate benchmark, because no matter what the environmentalists say, it's still an internal combustion engine powered vehicle that wastes more than 3/4 of its gas on producing heat, not propulsion.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by angel'o'sphere (80593)
      You forget that a gasolien car has an efficenty of about 20% and a electric car aof about 90%.

      So divide your numbers by 4 on the elctrricity side and you get: 1.2 MW. Of course you would not charge it ona 110 volts line but on a 230 volts line, like in europe. (oO ... that was a joke, but I guess you get the basic idea)

      angel'o'sphere
  • by Pink Tinkletini (978889) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:17PM (#16189225) Homepage
    It's called a MetroCard. Plenty faster, more energy-efficient, and more convenient than a car, and it only costs $76 a month. And you can actually do stuff on your way to work, like read. Try that next time you're stuck in traffic on the so-called "freeway."
  • by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:20PM (#16189271)
    I'm not expecting to be finding this available for us lowly mortals anytime soon.
    So in the meantime I'm building a weedeater bike with parts I get at Curb*mart. Some people call them a "Mow-ped"..
    Strap a 21cc weedeater motor on the back of an old bicycle and you can get 400+ miles per gallon. YMMV..
    One guy traveled 1,000 mile on 3.5 gallons of gas. I'm going to put a big basket on it and that's how I'll be going to the grocery store. I'll use the car only when it's not feasible to ride the mow-ped, I think I can almost live without the car, maybe only having to resort to it once a month or less.

    The mow-ped, built from stuff people throw away is helping to keep stuff out of the landfill, helping to reduce pollution and is a poke in the eye to the uberglobalists that insist we all buy brand new cars every year and constantly fill them up with hyperinflated, over priced gas..

    I'm not a good little consumer. I want to keep my money. I'm tired of the fat cat profiteers on Wall Street getting fatter from the sweat of my brow, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.
    Time to fight back..

  • Bullshit! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CPIMatt (206195) * on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:20PM (#16189277)
    My bullshit detector is going off. We have a company with no track record, making extravagent claims, about a device that they cannot demonstrate...

    Plus the math on this thing is staggering. They are going to deliver $9 worth of electricty in 5 minutes? Or will deliver enough power in five minutes to power an SUV over 500 miles? It has been a while since EE201, can anyone help me out here?

    -Matt
  • by carlosponti (716259) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:21PM (#16189307) Journal
    Big Oil companies will never allow the market to go to this product. Over the years there have been great products that went no where to help us reduce our dependence on oil. now why didnt they go anywhere? because three reasons. people not wanting to change and big companies knowing that its cheaper to stay with the status quo and lastly Big Oil companies will go broke trying to change to anything that they are not already doing.
  • Lawn products (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:25PM (#16189367) Journal
    I wish that lawn products such as trimmers and mowers would be based on a capacitor. You figure that they would last a life time. In addition, the ability to charge these in a just a minute (on a 110) would be so easy that many ppl would jump at it. Rather than cars, this is a good entry point market for these.
  • by 955301 (209856) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:30PM (#16189477) Journal

    Should this become the path the energy comsuming manufacturers take (cars, laptops, tools, etc), anyone who is not familiar with electronics, please tatoo the following thought in your mind for your own sake:

    A capacitor can discharge at an equally alarming rate as this charge time suggests. To take a phrase from Mohamar Khadafi in the eighties, you cross this line, you die.

    Seriously - discharging a capacitor will kill you instantly without the proper safeguards in place. Get into a choice car-accident where this connection is made and kaboom! It will explode - if you are the connection, you will die.

    A tank of gasoline has nothing on a charged capacitor. Just ask any poor fool who has mucked around with the innards of a television set shortly after unplugging it.

    • You worry too much (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WindBourne (631190)
      Gasoline must have more energy than the capacitor do to the inefficiency of the ICE (in fact, more than 4x based on earlier posts). That means for the same auto, that gas has 4x more energy to release than this capacitor. 25 years ago, I was an EMT and DID see an auto that did explode. Surprisingly, the passenger survived it (I am not convinced that it was, necessarily, a good thing; I only hope that he had at lease somewhat of life or better if he survived what was to follow). These days, I do not hear of
  • by anti_analog (305106) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:35PM (#16189591)
    The idea of replacing the batteries in electric and hybrid electric cars is not a new one. BMW was at one point determined to use ultracapacitors in it's hybrids, rather than batteries, because without chemical reactions taking place, the storage of electricity is much more efficient than batteries. BMW has apparently abandoned that in their alliance with DCX and GM on their hybrid system, but since BMW hasn't announced any of their own hybrids, we can't exactly tell yet. I believe also that it would allow greater maximum output from a car, if one were so inclined to let a couple/few hundred kilowatts go to the electric motors.
    The problem is that the ultra capacitors haven't been quite ultra enough yet. I'm no expert on capacities of capacitors, but you're limited by size/surface area in the capacitor and 'they' seemed to 500 miles is quite a claim, and unless they have a specific car, it's not a usefully specific claim. And if they do have a vehicle, it's best to make sure it's not a lightweight go kart like an Elise (or the new Tesla car, which is an Elise), as those cars tend to not please typical automotive tastes.
    There is still potential out there to make much more effective capacitors. I believe MIT students/professors/people of some sort came up with a Carbon Nano-fiber fuzzy capacitor that multiplied many times the surface area inside a capacitor on which the charge is built up by making the charge holding surface out gagillions of those little fibers. That sounded like a hilariously expensive proposition to me, but perhaps it's not as expensive as my imagination makes it out to be, or it could even inspire others to find similar and less expensive ways to make significant advances in the field of ultracapacitors.
    At the very least, companies who make outrageous claims like this one bring awareness to different technologies and methodologies such as capacitors vs. batteries. I'll be interested to see if/when someone brings a capacitor driven car to market, be it these guys, or BMW, or whoever.
    • Power vs. energy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Monday September 25, 2006 @07:11PM (#16193005) Homepage Journal
      >The problem is that the ultra capacitors haven't been quite ultra enough yet.

      Up to now the advantage of ultracapacitors over batteries has been power density, not energy density. Power == energy / time. Getting energy in and out quickly in modest quantities is wonderful for cars: you can keep up with the spectacular pulse of energy from a panic stop (do the math, you'll be amazed) and power a quick acceleration to freeway speeds. But they've not stored as much energy as a battery so far. You can get a farad cheap, but they've been limited to low voltages (e.g. 3.6) and energy storage is linear in capacitance but quadratic in voltage.

      If these people are storing as much total energy as a battery pack they've made a breakthrough.
  • by loose electron (699583) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:02PM (#16191265) Homepage
    OK -

    The patent applied
    and received is US Patent: 7,033,406

    Feel free to yank the patent off the USPTO web site.

    Issue Date: April 25, 2006
    (Hopefuly they are not 24 days late.)

    Unit described in the patent:

    Weight = 336 pounds
    Capacitance = 31 Farads
    Peak Voltage on the capacitors = 3500 V
    Energy stored = 52 KwH
    Size of Unit = 1 cubic foot (its in there read the fine print)

    The patent also describes an energy distribution system that includes "fuel stations" that use the same capacitor storage, and charges capacitors at the fuel station during graveyard shift. (double conversion losses, but that can be argued, and there are MUCH better ways to do this)

    The "ultra fast charging" as per the marketing/media blurbs are commented on in the patent, "if sufficient cooling for the charging and wire interconnect is avaialble...." so the guy writing the patent was aware of the issues with the resistive losses in the system.

    The capacitince structures are a ceramic technology, using special dielectrics. A lot of content there on the chemistry and fabrication technology.

    Not sure if this is vaporware or the "next big thing" - we shall see.

    Jerry

  • AA, AAA, C, D (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DigitalRaptor (815681) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:17PM (#16191505) Homepage
    You'll know the energy density of ultracapacitors has ripened when there is a real market for AA, AAA, C, and D ultracapacitors that are drop-in replacements for normal batteries and offer the same duration.

    The benefit of ultracapacitors is that you can recharge them VERY fast. For instance, charging several AAA batteries could take as little as a few seconds, and can be done 500,000+ times with no affect on the battery (no memory, no decrease in power, etc).

    Personally I can't wait, but we aren't there yet. MIT is making good progress using carbon nano-tubes, however.

  • Formula Hybrid (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dolohov (114209) on Monday September 25, 2006 @07:54PM (#16193465)
    Using ultracaps for hybrid cars is nothing new. Dartmouth's Formula Hybrid [formula-hybrid.com] team built two race cars based on them last spring. (I helped build, and got to drive, one of them)

    On our main track day, we had a cap explode. Nothing major, but it did spray toxic chemicals all over the inside of the enclosure. After talking to the manufacturer, we were informed that this is actually really common. (Which is a no-brainer to anyone who knows the failure curve) Maybe these people are pre-stressing their caps to weed out the ones with flaws. But given that Sony couldn't manage to do that with production-run batteries...

    The other thing is that it took a lot longer to charge than these people are talking. We had a heavy-duty lab power supply, running off a generator, and it took a considerable amount of time to charge up to the 300V we needed. And I know you're saying, "Well, that's for a race car" but these things are so light, that you'd need a lot more juice to run a tiny Toyota-size two-seater than we needed for this.
  • by edunbar93 (141167) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @02:39AM (#16196171)
    CNN has recently posted a story about a company (EEStor) that plans on offering UltraCapacitor storage products

    Uh huh. And I plan on building flying brooms that will whisk us around by magic alone. No fuel or flying license needed! Who wants to lend me money to persue this goal?

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