Oh! I forgot to pass on some interesting news that came my way recently.

Defense mega-contractor Lockheed Martin has signed a contract with mysterious ultracapacitor company Eestor to use its energy storage devices in "military and homeland security applications."

This seem huge. The buzz around Eestor — more here — has been intense, and the claims it makes on behalf of its ultracapacitors are astonishing. If they pan out, it could revolutionize the auto industry, and that’s no exaggeration. The problem has been figuring out how much of it is hype. Though the company’s backed by a some respected VC outfits, the only contract it has signed is with Zenn, the wee electric car company. And of course no one has seen a working prototype.

If Lockheed Martin is putting its name on the bottom line, that strikes me as a substantial vote of confidence.

One note of interest: a guy from Zenn told me that Eestor is contractually obliged to deliver working battery units to Zenn before it starts making product for LM. That means there’s a huge pot of money for Eestor on the other side of Zenn, which substantially raises my confidence in Zenn’s chances.

More from Tyler Hamilton here and here, and an interview with a Lockheed Martin guy here. Here’s a short chunk:

Are you confident that their technology will offer a greater amount of energy and power density than batteries?
Yes, and at a fraction of the cost.

Do their caps hold 10x the energy at 1/10th the weight of a lead acid battery?
Yes.

How does the the price of EEStor’ s capacitors compare with Li-ion or NiMh batteries?
It really depends on the chemistry, the volume, the packaging, the application. It is really application-specific. It’s going to be lower price. Were not just concerned about hardware cost. Really what were focused on is logistics. Especially the logistics footprint in theater. That’ s probably more important than material cost. And that one of the things that we think this technology can bring. Because it can be used for a variety of applications with a common architecture and chemistry. Its compact, its scalable and can be applied to a variety of applications. That obviously very attractive to a logistics community, to have more common components and that type of thing.

Is there a production plan for 2008?
Yes for EEStor. Their approach is when they start manufacturing these batteries, not just the cells, but also the package assembly, they will be in production. If you can get a visit to EEStor they’ ll show you their process and everything they’ve got in place to support that. Assuming that everything comes together in terms of tests and qualifications and that sort of thing, they will be ready to ramp up very quickly, because of the nature if the architecture and scalability of what they are doing.