EEStor, a Texas startup, claims it has a new battery-ultracapacitor hybrid based on barium-titanate that has ten times as much capacity as lead-acid batteries. Additionally, they cost only half as much and don't need toxic materials or chemicals.
The implications are enormous and, for many, unbelievable. Such a breakthrough has the potential to radically transform a transportation sector already flirting with an electric renaissance, improve the performance of intermittent energy sources such as wind and sun, and increase the efficiency and stability of power grids--all while fulfilling an oil-addicted America's quest for energy security.
The breakthrough could also pose a threat to next-generation lithium-ion makers such as Watertown, MA-based A123Systems, which is working on a plug-in hybrid storage system for General Motors, and Reno, NV-based Altair Nanotechnologies, a supplier to all-electric vehicle maker Phoenix Motorcars.
"I get a little skeptical when somebody thinks they've got a silver bullet for every application, because that's just not consistent with reality," says Andrew Burke, an expert on energy systems for transportation at University of California at Davis.
That said, Burke hopes to be proved wrong. "If [the] technology turns out to be better than I think, that doesn't make me sad: it makes me happy."