After my question about the potential for an electric Gold Wing and all of the thoughtful comments it generated, I thought I would touch on this ultracapacitor patent by EEStor that’s getting a lot of attention. EEStor says it has developed “technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries.” A bold statement in the very least.
A capacitor is a rather common electronic component that can store an electrical charge and discharge it very quickly or slowly, depending on how it is placed in the circuit, they can be used to shape waveforms in electronic circuits, they’re used in power supplies, they’ve been around for a long time. More recently, there has been a lot of interest in developing their basic ability to store energy. Just how much electrical energy can you put into one of these capacitors and how fast can you get it in there?
EEStor’s patent says it can safely charge to 3500 volts and store at least 52.22 kWh of electrical energy. Or, as a New York Times article put it, “a motorist could plug in a car for five minutes and drive 500 miles roundtrip between Dallas and Houston without gasoline.”
These are pretty interesting claims, and I use the words “pretty interesting” to mean “do you have any evidence to support them?” If the technology has advanced to that point, we’re are about to see some very big changes in motor vehicles of all kinds, not just motorcycles, or we’re right at the point where some investors are going to lose a lot of money. Being the optimist that I am, I would prefer the former.
If true, whether right now or some time in the near future, we may also see some entirely new companies jumping into the vehicle business. If the power is primarily from some electrical circuits instead of internal combustion engines, it will be a lot like the digital camera turning the film camera industry upside down. What happens to a company like Harley Davidson in this scenario or any of the manufacturers that build their brand or reputation around the look and sound of an engine?
This also is a very strong hint that anyone interested in motor vehicles should make sure they understand electricity and electronics to a much higher degree than many current mechanics or technicians do today. If you want to design a future motorcycle, think about designing it around an electric motor.
Electric motorcycles are coming, maybe sooner than you think.