The Start of an Energy Storage Breakthrough
Despite soft U.S. economic figures, market gyrations, and the debt ping-pong match going on between Europe and Washington, the American entrepreneurial spirit remains alive and well.
Here is proof of that.
A tiny upstart company based on Odessa, Florida, just made a major move toward revolutionizing the storage of energy.
In the process, the cost of renewable energies – such as solar and wind power – could come down dramatically, making them viable competitors in the energy marketplace.
The problem with renewable energy has always been our inability to store large amounts of what is generated – a shortcoming well known with any production of electricity.
It's especially true for solar power, which is, of course, only available when the sun's out.
That's why the battery market has become the Holy Grail for the entire energy sector. Analysts and investors focus on any small improvement in retaining power.
But there hasn't been anything like this before.
And it just might change the way we do, well, just about everything.
It Used to be the Stuff of Science Fiction
Yesterday, Dais Analytic Corp. (OTC:DLYT) finally secured a patent for what it calls a “Nanoparticle Ultracapacitor.” (As an indication of how new this area is, the company filed the patent more than five years ago!)
The device uses the company's existing proprietary nano-structured materials to create an energy storage mechanism projected to have great advantages – both in terms of performance and cost – over existing storage technologies.
The key is the research universe in which this is taking place… one that observers have called the most important to emerge in generations.
This is no longer the stuff of science fiction. For well over a decade now, laboratories around the globe have been pushing the envelope in nanotechnology research.
Nanotechnology encompasses a broad range of research that has a major potential impact on applications as diverse as human stem cell therapy, lighter alloys, smaller components of everything… as well as more powerful lithium and other batteries.
Here's where it starts to sound like something from Star Trek…
Nanotech involves nothing less than changing configurations – at the molecular and atomic levels (nano means “one billionth”) – to fundamentally alter substances and applications.
In the case of what Dais is doing, this means making batteries that are lighter, yet have higher energy density and capacity.
Under a cooperative testing agreement with the University of Florida, the company has developed a new generation FESP (functional energy storage prototype) called NanoCap.
NanoCap is a type of ultracapacitor, or energy storage unit.
According to the company's website, “NanoCap functions differently than a battery because it stores an electrical charge, not chemical energy.”
It provides extraordinary “dielectric constants.” In other words, by means of a decided ability to adjust the presence of an electric field, NanoCap essentially offsets a huge problem – that resistance usually lessens the actual surface area providing benefit in using an electrical charge.
In this way, it allows greater energy storage densities than even the best lithium batteries now on the market (three times greater); it has an increased ability to cycle, which increases efficiency; and it significantly reduces weight, while at the same time providing higher power and energy.
And it does this at equal to or lower cost than anything else on the market.
When fully developed and applied, it holds the promise of widespread use in powering a broad range of applications:
- most forms of transportation,
- telecommunication infrastructure,
- transistors and consumer battery applications in cell phones,
- electronic networks,
- smart grids, and
- energy storage (it's especially useful as a storage media for renewable energy technologies, as it allows steady and predictable release of stored energy into the grid).
This last one is what really interests me.
NanoCap holds significant potential to provide long-term solutions for energy infrastructure problems.
By providing more stored energy without requiring the use of energy sources that contribute to adverse environmental impact, it may create some very desirable – and very profitable – end results: enhanced energy efficiency, cleaner air, and cleaner water.
Still, It's Not Quite Ripe for Investing
For Dais' stock, of course, the bump from all of this is several years off. There is much that needs to be done in research and application before NanoCap has any real profit-making potential.
Then again, you can expect to see the final market impact coming from this and further discoveries by several of these high-tech, small-cap companies.
But for now, the company – as with most development plays – is running at a loss. And it will continue to do so for some time to come.
Despite the technological promise, this is not a stock you should run right off and buy.
For one thing, this is an ultra small cap. (With a market cap of barely $8 million, it's actually considered a “nanocap” company!) There are also liquidity concerns. Trading volume is often too low to sell the shares when it's warranted.
Plus, as with all stocks this small, any buying interest will distort the market price. That means the first few buyers will obtain a decent price, but that, in turn, will move the price up quickly – beyond justified levels – for the next people trying to get in. That leads, in rapid succession, to waves of profit-taking and a plunging stock price.
Don't get me wrong…
This is exciting stuff. It's on the fringes of scientific discovery. But it is not yet a justified target for retail investors.
Still, for those of you who like a little dense reading, you can find the full text of the patent (U.S. Patent Number 7,990,679) at the United States Patent and Trademark Office website here.
Now, if we could just nano our way into plasma energy and figure out how the Star Trek crew gets its warp drive…