The wire services are abuzz today with the news that a Texas-based company, EEStor, has patented what they term "technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries." The replacement they are referring to would be so profoundly earthshaking, and has been worked on so long by so many people, that many are skeptical.Of course, HotHardware brought you this news last September in The Answer To Everything. It just might be.
EEStor's secret ingredient is a material sandwiched between thousands of wafer-thin metal sheets, like a series of foil-and-paper gum wrappers stacked on top of each other. Charged particles stick to the metal sheets and move quickly across EEStor's proprietary material.
The result is an ultracapacitor, a battery-like device that stores and releases energy quickly.
Batteries rely on chemical reactions to store energy but can take hours to charge and release energy. The simplest capacitors found in computers and radios hold less energy but can charge or discharge instantly. Ultracapacitors take the best of both, stacking capacitors to increase capacity while maintaining the speed of simple capacitors.
The reason gasoline is so essential is not just that it's got a lot of energy in it. It's more about how that power is easily and instantly made available in a portable and reliable form. Ultracapacitors would completely change that appeal, and make most batteries obsolete as well. I'm looking forward to having my laptop electrocute me instead of setting my pants on fire.