Green stuff: Driven by Oil; EEStor super-batteries
Just caught a programme on BBC Radio 4 called Driven by Oil. The last part of a four part series on the oil industry, the final episode has writer/presenter Tom Mangold taking a look at (or, I suppose, a listen to) non-oil based forms of fuelling and energy for motor vehicles. Only half an hour long, and in spite of some slight naivete about plug-in electric vehicles, it's well worth a listen. The Radio 4 mini-site is here. If you're quick you may even be able to Listen Again to last week's segment before they update to this morning's programme - which is repeated on Radio 4 at 9:30 this evening.
Speaking of plug-in "ev"s (that's "electric vehicles", acronym fans; not to be confused with rv - which is an altogether different kind of American motor-dream), I don't know how I missed this initially, but I did:
Never-Ending Potency: Battery Replacement Could Charge Electric-Car Industry
This concerns an apparent breakthrough in battery technology using ceramics that originators EEStor claim could lead to mains rechargable electric cars with a 500 mile range from only "$9" of electricity. Even more impressive/significant/unbelievable is the kicker, where EEStor suggest a full charge would only take "five minutes". A completely fantastic achievement, or just completely fantastic?
Right now it's very difficult to know. Speculation has been bubbling about this company for some time, and there still seems to be very little in the way of actual answers. No major car manufacturers are involved at this stage, that's one thing for sure - but they do have other heavyweight investors. The technology itself appears to be based on capacitors, rather than a more traditional "battery" - not a new concept, but this would represent one of the first proper instances of implementation. I can't help but think that being ceramic, even if it is true it's going to be awfully heavy.... Canadian company Feel Good Cars, makers of the ZENN, above, are reckoning they'll have the tech on the road by 2008, however, so I'll just stand back and wish them luck.
Ignore the indecisive spelling of EEStor in both main pieces (and the typographic formatting war at the Giz), and the commentators at both Jalopnik and Gizmodo have some interesting things to say. I've listed a few other Google sourced references below.
Driven by Oil website and Listen Again (usually available for one week from broadcast only) [requires RealPlayer] @ BBC Radio 4
Never-Ending Potency: Battery Replacement Could Charge Electric-Car Industry @ Jalopnik
EEStor Ceramic Battery: Internal Combustion Replacement? @ Gizmodo
EEStor Capacitors- "This could change everything" @ Treehugger
EEStor Ultracapacitor Shuns Publicity @ The Energy Blog
Gentlemen, stop your engines @ CNNMoney.com
Kleiner Perkins' Latest Energy Investment @ BusinessWeek online
Feel Good Cars Tuning Up For Production; EEStor ESU on Track @ Green Car Congress
The Silver Bullet? @ Dymaxian World
Kleiner's secretive battery-ultracapacitor company, EEStor @ SiliconBeat
Feel Good Cars [official website]
What's in store for EEStor? @ Clean Break
Picture: the ZENN - from the Feel Good Cars website - on the occasion of winning Gold in the Urban Vehicle category of the 2006 Michelin Challenge Bibendum