How ultracapacitors work (and why they fall short)

Hang around the energy storage crowd long enough, and you’ll hear chatter about ultracapacitors. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has said he believes capacitors will even “supercede” batteries. What is it that makes ultracapacitors such a promising technology? And where do they fall short?

Tesla CEO: I’d Bet On Capacitors Over Batteries

At the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco on Wednesday, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk says he bets that it could be capacitors — rather than batteries — that will deliver an important breakthrough for electric transportation, an interesting comment from a CEO whose products are based on lithium-ion batteries

Zenn Ends Vehicle Production, Lays Off Staff in EEStor Bet

Zenn Motor has come to the end of its life as an electric car maker. The Toronto-based company’s announcement late Thursday that it has ceased production of its Zenn LSV model and laid off 15 employees who supported sales, marketing and production of the vehicle, marks the final shift to focus its efforts and financial resources entirely on a bet that ultracapacitor startup EEStor will make good on its ambitious performance claims.

The transition for Zenn from manufacturer to a would-be supplier for automakers and specialty vehicle companies has been months in the making. Last fall, CEO Ian Clifford told reporters the company no longer planned to sell its first highway-speed electric car, the cityZenn, and that it would “shift focus away” from its existing product, the Zenn LSV low-speed electric model. Read More about Zenn Ends Vehicle Production, Lays Off Staff in EEStor Bet

Fox vs. Time Warner: What to Do When Your Screen Turns Black

Fox is ready to flip the switch and cut off some Time Warner (s TWX) customers in a little more than 30 hours, according to a report today from Bloomberg. News Corp. (s NWS) COO Chase Carey apparently told employees in an internal memo that the company is unlikely to reach an agreement with Time Warner over higher licensing fees for Fox TV channels. Earlier today, Time Warner had signaled that it was open to sending the dispute to arbitration in an effort to avoid any blackouts on Jan. 1.

News Corp. and Time Warner are in a stand-off about licensing fees for the right to carry Fox programming on Time Warner’s cable network. Fox wants a dollar per cable subscriber, but Time Warner only wants to pay 30 cents. With negotiations coming down to the wire, it’s probably a good idea to take a look at alternatives to get your sports, House and Bones fix. Here’s where to turn if Fox goes through with its threats: Read More about Fox vs. Time Warner: What to Do When Your Screen Turns Black

Zenn Says Lithium Off the Table, Still Bets on EEStor

zenn-logoIf Canadian electric vehicle maker Zenn Motor Co. once saw lithium-ion batteries as a possible alternative to devices from its controversial investment in ultracapacitor developer EEStor, the more standard technology is now officially out of the running for its future cars. According to Zenn’s third-quarter results release, out today, the company’s engineering group “re-evaluated a number of lithium-based power-packs for inclusion in its solutions” between April and the end of June. But those efforts, in the context of what Zenn calls “the progressed state of development” of EEStor’s technology, have brought the company to teh following conclusion: Lithium does not offer “an economically viable power source for its offerings.”
In essence, Zenn is saying that if everything goes well with EEStor’s tech, it will be more economical than currently available lithium-ion offerings. It seems to have already evaluated the lithium-ion technology gaining support from the U.S. government and being used by other automakers, such as General Motors (s GM) for its Chevy Volt and Toyota (s TM) for the trial versions of a plug-in Prius. Taking lithium off the table seems, in part, like a vote of confidence for EEStor.
Read More about Zenn Says Lithium Off the Table, Still Bets on EEStor

Daily Sprout

Immelt and Doerr on the Other Crisis: In an editorial today, venture capitalist John Doerr and General Electric (s GE) CEO Jeff Immelt argue the U.S. faces not only economic, climate and energy crises, but also a competitiveness crisis, especially when it comes to green technology. — Washington Post
GM Considering a Plug-in People Mover: General Motors (s GM) says it’s studying adaptation of its Voltec extended range electric propulsion system (used in the Chevy Volt) for use in the upcoming 7-seat Orlando. — GM-Volt
Bright IDEA Test Drive: Meh: Plug-in vehicle advocate Paul Scott takes Bright Automotive’s electric van, the IDEA, for a test drive and gives it a B+, but expects it could get “in A+ shape in a matter of months.” — AutoblogGreen
Drivetrains Take Center Stage at Think: Richard Canny, CEO of Norway-based electric vehicle maker Think, says the company’s new drivetrain business is crucial to its strategy in an increasingly competitive market for plug-in cars. —NYT’s Green Inc.
Ultracapacitors as Butlers: Loxis, an ultrapcapacitor maker that released a line of electric double layer capacitors today, says the devices will proliferate in wind farms, cars and other markets, but in supporting roles, replacing the hydraulic pumps behind power steering, for example. — Greentech Media

Citi Now Agrees YouTube Can Reach Profitability Soon

Citi Investment Research’s Mark Mahaney said today he’d been convinced that online video companies like YouTube can become profitable because infrastructure prices have come down dramatically.
After holding a call with RampRate, the IT services analysts who’d recently declared that YouTube’s costs were vastly overestimated, Citi issued a note saying it agreed. Google (s GOOG) CFO Patrick Pichette had said of YouTube on Google’s latest earnings call “in the not long, too long distance future, we actually see a very profitable and good business for us.” Citi said today that it believes that assertion.
RampRate contends that a widely cited Credit Suisse report about YouTube losing some $470 million this year was wrong because it didn’t account for significant cost reductions on bandwidth, storage and hardware — especially Google’s ability to peer (basically, trade) traffic with ISPs.
Citi further added that other video sites should be able to take advantage of at least some of these cost reductions. Where in the past delivering video might have been a major strain, now, “The biggest hurdle to profitability is attaining sufficient user and usage volumes, obtaining contracts for content rights, and monetizing against the video content,” said Citi.

Redliner: Collaborative Editing Made Easy

logo_175x40If you need to collaborate on a document with someone, you can simply email a Word (s msft) document back and forth, but that can get messy as it’s hard to keep track of the various versions of the document moving around. Or you could use an online document collaboration tool, like Google Docs (s goog), Show Document or doingText. Unfortunately, none of the available online tools tend to have a complete feature set. For example, Show Document can’t be used for collaborative editing, and Google Docs doesn’t have a sophisticated commenting system.

Enter Redliner, a new collaborative live document editing tool that marries an online word processor with a commenting and revision tracking system. It is based on Microsoft Silverlight, and even though it’s only in technical preview, the app is quite impressive. The best way to demo it is to see it in action in a  screencast: Read More about Redliner: Collaborative Editing Made Easy