Austin (TX) - A patent filed by a local Texas company shows technology that would allow drivers to commute hundreds of miles without using a drop of gasoline.
The Austin-based startup, EEStor, describes the patent for "technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries."
Zenn Motor Company, which specializes in electric car manufacturing, began licensing EEstor's technology in 2005 and plans to begin using the new technology in its existing electric vehicles later this year.
The patent describes an "ultracapacitor", which functions similarly to other electric car batteries but can charge more quickly and has a more streamlined process of releasing energy. The result is an automotive system that charges in just a few hours and can run for hundreds of miles. The Associated Press reports that a car using EEstor's technology could run for as much as 500 miles before it would need a re-charge.
Current hybrid vehicles need to be charged for several hours and offer a maximum gas-free drive time of around 50 miles.
Though the patent details 17 different claims, it offers a scarce amount of information to how the technology comes together. The crux of the entire device seems to be a secret material that is sandwiched in between parts of the capacitor. According to the patent, this material allows charged particles to move more quickly and efficiently through the electric components.
However, there is some concern from analysts about whether this technology could be successfully mass produced. "With these materials, that is a challenging process to carry out in a defect-free fashion," said Georgia Tech researcher Joseph Perry, who works on similar technology innovations.