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September 03, 2005
Kleiner Perkins' Latest Energy Investment
Menlo Park, Calif. VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in July led a $3 million preferred stock investment in EEStor Inc., a Cedar Park, Texas startup that is developing breakthrough battery technology.
The company was founded in 2001 by Richard D. Weir, Carl Nelson, and Richard S. Weir, who have backgrounds as senior managers in disk-storage technology at such companies as IBM and Xerox PARC. They previously co-founded disk-storage startup Tulip Memory Systems, where they won 16 U.S. patents.
According to a May, 2004 edition of Utility Federal Technology Opportunities, an obscure trade newsletter, EEStor claims to make a battery at half the cost per kilowatt-hour and one-tenth the weight of lead-acid batteries. Specifically, the product weighs 400 pounds and delivers 52 kilowatt-hours. (For battery geeks: "The technology is basically a parallel plate capacitor with barium titanate as the dielectric," UFTO says.) No hazardous or dangerous materials are used in manufacturing the ceramic-based unit, which means it qualifies as what Silicon Valley types call "cleantech."
As of last year, EEStor planned to build its own assembly line to prove the battery can work and then license the technology to manufacturers for volume production, UFTO says. Selling price would start at $3,200 and fall to $2,100 in high-volume production. Of course, all of this may have changed since KPCB got involved.
KPCB's investments are closely watched because the firm has made some of the most successful bets in VC history (Google, Amazon.com, Netscape, AOL, etc.). Energy investments carry a little extra risk for the firm since it is relatively new to the sector. Speaking at Stanford University in February, KPCB general partner John Doerr said the firm had made four energy investments so far, including fuel-cell maker Ion America. It will be interesting to watch how these companies develop.
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If they are expecting to make money making fuel cell cars, they are bound to be bitterly disappointed.
If they wanted to make a clean car that runs on compressed gas, really, they would go to CNG. Natural gas is much cheaper than H2, because it does not need loads of power to free it from the compond it's embedded in.
So what is the point of pouring money into fuel cell cars? Car makers have killed CNG, becauase they don't want anything but gasoline cars; they just talk about fuel cells to forestall moves to clean CNG or even cleaner no-pollution Electric cars.
Posted by: doug korthof at September 4, 2005 06:34 PM
All indicators confirm an increase in investments flowing into clean energy.
Posted by: Sam Blanton at September 18, 2005 07:30 PM
Doug, a capacitor is not a fuel cell. A capacitor stores electrical energy, like a battery, but it stores the energy in electrical form instead of chemical form as in a battery. While capacitors or batteries are probably needed in fuel cell vehicles, they can also be used to power purely electric vehicles, i.e., without any fuel cells.
Posted by: Jeff Chan at March 9, 2006 08:11 PM
This is great news. See additional news at http://evworld.com/view.cfm?section=communique&newsid=11610&url=
Posted by: Gavin Young at April 14, 2006 05:17 PM
If it is so great an invention why not start out in smaller aplications like making rechargable AAA, AA, C, D rechargable batteries for consumer eletronics. That is the bigest market for the battery after all. And people always need rechargable batteries in laptops and cell phones. So the consummer market would be the best testing ground for any such invtion. If it does well there then expand into ultilities and automobiles.
Posted by: Travis Moore at July 17, 2006 12:37 PM
Why not start with AA batteries? Because those are 1.5 Volts and the EEStor capacitors will operate around 2000 Volts.
Posted by: Jeff Chan at August 16, 2006 05:49 AM
And more importantly, the EEStor will not operate at a constant voltage, so a potentially complex switching device will be required to maintain a constant output voltage. That said, I'm not too sold on this device; seems too good to be true and odd that they have not released any results. As with movies, no reviews usually means bad reviews.
Posted by: Matt at August 21, 2006 10:11 AM
When you come up with a solar Battery charger to go with the new battery we will have it made. No more O-peck
Posted by: Darrell Zeeb at August 27, 2006 12:25 PM
If EEstor's invention is for real, then I am (again) deeply disappointed in the industry in general. Eestor's production method and materials existed 30 years ago.
So if small company EEstor can prove it is possible to fabricate a capacitor of at least 20F 3500V, then we all might have had a very efficient electric car with enough range per charge and power at least 30 years ago.
EEstor's capacitor is going to be verified by an independent organisation this summer. Lets wait and see, if EEStor can embarrass the whole electric industry
Posted by: Koen at August 29, 2006 03:34 PM
While the technology has been around, my guess is that the processing and manufacturing capability was not. These days layers can be produced at the nanometer level, and by doing so drastically increase the surface area of the storable energy, fully using the dielectric of the Barium Titanate. Apparently they are working on the purity of the Barium Titanate as we speak, so this will be key. I'm just not confident that they can produce these at the price "quoted" in their patent.
Posted by: mjtimber at August 31, 2006 01:37 PM
Pretty sure this is a scam. It is pretty easy to check with a basic physics text book. I just ran some reasonable numbers like K=1250, breakdown voltage = 3.2kV/mm, density of BaTiO3=6g/cm3.
Using the quoted number of 400lb, 52kWh, I find that the claim is off by at least 10^6. Perhaps they have found a way to increase K or breakdown of BaTiO3 by a factor of a million, or I have messed something up, but I doubt it.
Posted by: idontthinkso at September 5, 2006 08:07 PM