• Sep 3rd 2007 at 3:08PM
  • 12
As Toyota hesitates on lithium ion battery technology and General Motors races ahead, Canadian startup Zenn is trying to leapfrog them. We've talked about ZENN before and also their deal with EEStor to use their ultra-capacitor technology. EEStor has made some pretty amazing claims as has ZENN. ZENN is claiming that drivers will be able to charge up their cars in five minutes and get a five-hundred-mile range.

While this may indeed be possible it's still very much unproven. Capacitors are able to absorb energy much faster than batteries, which makes them desirable for EV applications where they can absorb the kinetic energy recovered during regenerative braking. However, their capacity is also much more limited. The current generation Honda FCX fuel cell car uses ultra-capacitors but only has a range of about one third of mile on the capacitors. High capacity ultra-capacitors are also very expensive.

Whether EEStor will be able to actually build an ultra-capacitor with a 500-mile range at an affordable price is still very much an open question. Another issue is the five minute charge time. Capacitors don't magically reduce the amount of energy it takes to move a car 500 miles. They just reduce the amount of time it takes to absorb that energy. Just like the Altairnano batteries that can reportedly be charged in ten minutes, you won't be able to get that five minute charge at home. You will need a very thick cable to transfer that much electricity in such a short time and a huge amount of stored energy. Special charging stations will be needed that will be very expensive at first. Charging at home on your 60-200A circuits will take almost as much time as a battery.

[Source: ABC News]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Kert - That additional home capacitor bank can also be kept on float charge for whenever one wants to 'top off' the onboard bank for a longer than normal drive around town. There are many senarios that support this arrangement, including the serial EV with range extender (which may run quite infrequently). %% (crossed fingers).
      • 8 Years Ago
      Awsomeness (if real and working)
      • 8 Years Ago
      I would buy a Zenn today, IF, it was able to go 45mph. 25mph is useless for my commute. Other wise i like the car. It is the right size and I really like the look.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well said technopete. You have hit the nail square on the head. Ofcourse Zenn have done due diligence before dropping millions on the capacitor technology.

      Regarding the EEstor capacitor, I liken it to the Wright bros before Kitty Hawk. They appeared to come out of the blue with their first flyer because they kept their collective mouths shut before flying. The same with EEstor. Prior to the first flight every "expert" claimed heavier than air flight was impossible. A big collective "OOPS" must have come from their lips when the photos appeard.

      EEstor claim to be going straight to commercial production and this impresses me. You surely have to be confident with your technology to stick your neck out and go straight to production.
      • 8 Years Ago
      A bank of capacitors at home. Great idea Kert.

      Anyone know if this 500 mile thing is a recent claim or just cold leftovers from the Spring.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I vote we not give these guy anymore press until they deliver something, anything. So far this is vapor and late vapor at that.
      • 8 Years Ago
      F'YEAH! :D
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yes, you can get a five minute charge at home, IF you have an extra capacitor bank sitting at home.

      Which very well might make sense for various other reasons.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and what EESTOR is claiming is wildly extraordinary. Unfortunately, whe haven't got even a shred of proof yet.

      ZENN made a bad mistake to invest so much in EESTOR without even a small working model to test.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Tio,

      Good news. The Zenn can go more than 25 mph. But it has a governer to keep it to 25 mph so it can meet the legislation for low-speed community vehicles.

      As far as Zenn buying into Eestor without any evidence - how do you know? I have looked at everything I can find on the web, and cannot find any statement by Zenn as to whether or not they have seen research prototypes of the Eestor unit. So you can either assume Zenn is stupid, or that it has signed a non-disclosure agreement which forces them to keep quiet, as Eestor seems determined to adopt a very low profile indeed - and wouldn't you, to keep the oil companies off the scent of what you were about to do to their main market.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You do not have to go any further than Stan Meyers, look what happened to him when he revealed that he could get 300 miles on a gallon of water to power his (ICE) vehicle instead of gasoline. He revealed his secret, boom gone.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Judging by Zenn cars' media coverage page ( http://www.zenncars.com/media/coverage.html), I would say that this is ABC News looking up an old press release on the Internet. Investigative reporting at its best.