The Paradigm Shift in Energy Storage®


FastCAP Announces Major Breakthrough in High Temperature Energy Storage

FastCAP Systems announced today that its newest technology, an ultracapacitor (ultracap) that reliably operates in extreme temperatures (200˚C, or roughly 400˚F), has successfully completed third party validation testing by Sandia National Laboratory. The newly validated ultracaps, celebrated as the highest temperature rechargeable energy storage devices in the world, mark a new frontier in ultracap development with major implications in a variety of industries, from energy exploration to defense, and vehicles to consumer electronics. The devices, which are expected to be released commercially later this year for use in the oil, gas and geothermal industries, were developed under a grant that FastCAP received from the Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) in 2012. By the end of the program in 2015, FastCAP expects to have devices validated for performance at 250˚C.

The absence of safe, reliable energy storage is a pain point in many industries, from vehicles to aeronautics to traditional energy exploration. FastCAP has found a niche for its high temperature ultracaps in the oil and gas industry, utilizing its technology in systems deployed while drilling, making the drilling process safer, data driven and more efficient. FastCAP’s existing commercial ultracaps, the first in the world to operate at 150˚C, served as a starting point for the GTO research and development. “We are making a big impact in oil and gas, addressing a long existing need of oil service companies, so this is an exciting beach head market for us” stated Riccardo Signorelli, CEO of FastCAP. “But FastCAP is a clean technology company at heart, and the long term mission with our drilling technology product line is to enable a new era of geothermal energy exploration and development,” he noted. Geothermal energy is a virtually unlimited, carbonless energy source that is available 24/7, anywhere in the world. It does not present problems typically associated with other energy sources, such as intermittency with renewables, toxic wastes with nuclear, and CO2 emissions with fossil fuels. Signorelli considers the most significant obstacle to widespread deployment of geothermal energy production an engineering problem that FastCAP can solve with its technology: “Being able to drill for geothermal energy more efficiently and intelligently is the key to enabling widespread geothermal energy development, and this is something that we enable with our high temperature downhole power sources.”

It is widely understood that if the intelligent drilling and smart well techniques that are currently ubiquitous in the oil and gas industry were deployed in the geothermal context, geothermal energy would quickly become a major contender to meet global energy demand. One of the most significant obstacles that stands in the way of such deployment are limitations related to the maximum operating temperatures of downhole batteries used in the oil and gas industry, which currently provide power for downhole sensors, steering tools, telemetry equipment and other technologies. The lack of energy storage devices that can operate reliably and safely at temperatures encountered in geothermal wells is perhaps the most significant obstacle standing in the way of deployment of MWD/LWD techniques and smart well technologies in geothermal applications.

During the validation testing of FastCAP’s cells, which was performed at Sandia National Laboratory in May, two prototypes were held at constant max voltage at 200˚C+ for more than 500 hours. The cells showed little performance degradation over this timeframe. Similar tests performed in parallel with the Sandia tests in the FastCAP laboratory over longer timeframes have shown the cells to perform failure free for more than 2,500 hours. The stable performance and extreme long life of these cells position the technology for commercial deployment without further development. “It was important to us to showcase a hermetically sealed and commercial ready technology, as opposed to a small piece of a cell tested in a controlled laboratory experiment,” noted Nicolò Brambilla, a Senior Engineer and Team Lead for FastCAP’s GTO program. “These cells are ready to enter the market and will start making an impact in the short term.”

FastCAP is engaged with multiple partners in the geothermal and oil and gas industries, both in the U.S. and abroad, who are eager to integrate the technology into their drilling operations. The company expects the new technology to be demonstrated in a well by early 2015. “Once you enable the advanced drilling techniques that are already standard practice in the oil and gas industry in the geothermal context, widespread deployment of this vast energy source quickly becomes a sound economical prospect,” Signorelli noted. “It’s the enormous promise of geothermal energy that keeps the FastCAP team up at night - the potential for positive change in our energy future is truly huge.” 

To view the Sandia National Laboratory report, please click here:


FastCAP Systems Acquires Key Technology from Canada-Based Calmena, Expands into New Oil, Gas and Geothermal Markets

BOSTON, MA – INNOVATION DISTRICT. FastCAP Exploration Technologies Ltd. (“FET”), a newly formed subsidiary of FastCAP Systems Corporation (“FSC”) in Boston, Massachusetts has acquired key technology, assets and team members of Calmena Energy Services Inc.’s (“Calmena”) Directional Drilling Technologies, based in Calgary, Alberta. FSC has developed and commercialized world record breaking high performance ultracapacitor based power systems, and intends for FET to focus specifically on FSC’s extreme environment products and services for the oil, gas and geothermal industries.

Central to the acquisition is Calmena’s non-compensated rotary pulser, which when combined with FastCAP’s Ulysses Extreme Power System (Ulyss EP®), will enable achievement of three to four times the torque of rotary pulsers on the market today. This capability will enable directional drilling service companies to operate reliably in high flow rates and high concentrations of lost circulation material.  FET’s high torque technology will offer unprecedented resilience to service companies and operators by preventing expensive trip outs and reducing non-productive time.

"We are excited about the new technology and solutions that this acquisition will enable us to offer to the oil and gas industry, and about the new frontiers that these systems will enable operators to explore," noted Dr. Riccardo Signorelli, President of FastCAP Exploration Technologies. 

“Calmena views this transaction as strategically beneficial to both parties. While we continue to deliver onshore directional field services through our core business operations in the United States, we are excited about collaborating closely with FastCAP through their development and commercialization of these new and exciting directional drilling technologies,” added John King, President and Chief Executive Officer of Calgary based Calmena.

FastCAP Systems Powers up Production with $5M from WindSail Capital Group


Boston based FastCAP Systems, a leader in high performance ultracapacitor technologies, announced Monday that it has raised a $5 million dollar credit facility from WindSail Capital Group. The funds will be used to support the expansion of production capabilities for its premier lithium-free extreme environment power systems, currently being deployed in the energy exploration industry.

With five world performance records related to its ultracapacitor technologies under its belt, FastCAP is focused on the expansion of its first commercial hit – ultracapacitor based systems that operate safely and reliably in extreme temperatures. The absence of safe, reliable energy storage is a pain point in many industries, from vehicles to aeronautics to energy exploration. FastCAP has found an ideal application in the oil, gas, and geothermal industries, utilizing its technology in systems deployed while drilling, making the drilling process safer, data driven and more efficient. “We are making a big impact in the oil and gas industry, addressing a long existing need of oil service companies, so this is an exciting first market for us” stated Dr. Riccardo Signorelli, CEO of FastCAP. “But FastCAP is a clean technology company at heart, and the long term vision for our drilling technology product line is to enable a new era of geothermal energy exploration and development” he noted. Geothermal energy is a virtually unlimited, carbon free energy source that is available 24/7, anywhere in the world. It does not present problems typically associated with other energy sources, such as intermittency with renewables, toxic wastes with nuclear, and CO2 emissions with fossil fuels. FastCAP is currently developing a cutting-edge system for geothermal drilling under a grant it received in 2011 from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Program. “People often chuckle at this goal, assuming it is unrealistic or impossible, but geothermal energy exists today beneath our feet, to the tune of 50,000 times more available energy than the sum of all oil and gas reserves in the world - and all we have to do to leverage this enormous resource is bring technology to the table that will allow us to drill for it effectively and intelligently. Geothermal is as close as it comes to a ‘silver bullet’ in the global energy equation, and FastCAP’s technology can enable that future.”

WindSail partners with clean energy businesses in the initial phase of their commercial expansion and enables companies to achieve critical growth without meaningful dilution. Over the last two years WindSail has been accelerating its investment activity, including investments in Next Step Living, Protonex, NG Advantage and XL Hybrids. ” We have been familiar with FastCAP since it was founded and have been very impressed with their team’s ability to identify unique opportunities for their energy storage technology” said Ian Bowles, Managing Director of WindSail. “Furthermore, what’s most impressive has been their ability to create comprehensive systems which not only maximize the value of their ultracapacitor technologies, but more importantly, can address major industry challenges.”

With its power systems for traditional energy exploration becoming a hot item, FastCAP has expanded its sales presence in both the Houston and Calgary markets. “Since the launch of our first commercial products in the spring of last year, we have experienced significant growth – growth that is accelerating now that our products have transitioned from field-tested prototypes into full-scale production” says Jamie Beard, Director of Operations of FastCAP. “We are now certain the market is there and engaged, and have a good understanding of the volume needed to address it – now we’ve got to grow to meet that demand.”

As part of its growth plan, FastCAP has secured expansion space at the heart of Boston’s Innovation District, which it has called home since opening shop in 2010. The now bustling clean technology ecosystem in the area is home to an increasing number of technology companies, and is quickly becoming one of Boston’s most sought after neighborhoods. “Jamestown is pleased to support the development of innovation economy tenants like FastCAP Systems, which has been developing and manufacturing cutting-edge energy storage technology in the Innovation District since 2010,” said Michael Phillips of Jamestown. “FastCAP’s continued growth reinforces the Innovation and Design Building’s position as a thriving center for manufacturing and technology within Boston’s Innovation District.”

With space to expand and the right partnerships in place, FastCAP has all eyes on the future. “When we considered our options for expansion, our primary goals were to maximize shareholder value and maintain flexibility – and given our accelerating growth and outlook, working with WindSail was a perfect fit” stated Signorelli. “We look forward to working with our friends at WindSail through this exciting period of growth.”

FastCAP Partners with the New England Board of Higher Education to Promote STEM Based Learning

FastCAP has partnered with the New England Board of Higher Education  to create a “Problem Based Learning” (PBL) project based on FastCAP’s nanotechnology research. The aim of the PBL is to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers to students in high school and college, and the PBL will be used as part of STEM based curricula in New England schools. Funding for the project was provided by the National Science Foundation through its Advanced Technological Education program. “FastCAP has a lot to gain from the promotion of STEM based careers to young people, and the PBL project aligns very nicely with our other STEM based student initiatives,” noted Jamie Beard, Director of Operations at FastCAP. “If advanced technology companies like FastCAP are going to continue to grow and thrive here in the United States, then we have to act quickly to assure that we will have an equally advanced and prepared work force ready to fill the positions we create. Engaging students early to show them how exciting and rewarding STEM based careers can be is a great first step.”

To view the PBL project, and interviews with the FastCAP team, please follow the links below.


The Promise of Power: The Journal of Petroleum Technology Takes a Look at FastCAP's Power Systems

The Promise of Power: FastCap’s New Capacitor Looks to the Future

FastCap Systems wants to change how drillers power instruments in high-temperature wells where lithium batteries are currently the power supply of choice.

Their innovation: a new generation of capacitor. FastCap says it is selling a version of the device that uses carbon nanotubes to greatly increase its capacity to store and deliver power. Since it debuted at last year’s Offshore Technology Conference, FastCap’s ultracapacitor—created using technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—has attracted interest from several companies in exploration and production (E&P), said Jamie Beard, director of operations for FastCap.

“We find customers really value our core technology. It is something that does not exist: a rechargeable, high-power, high-temperature power source,” Beard said. What they plan to do with it varies because “it is just a different beast.”

It is also rechargeable, which isn’t the case with the sort of lithium batteries currently used on high-temperature wells, and it can perform at temperatures exceeding 150oC. The company’s goal is to prove it can be used at 250oC. And according to FastCap’s website, the ultracapacitor can store far more power than other capacitors—3 times more than the highest-capacity capacitor—and deliver it 10 times faster than any battery.

While Beard said the device could someday be used to replace lithium batteries, early interest comes from those who are looking for ways to do what capacitors are most often asked to do: provide bursts of power stored up from a steady current from lithium batteries.

“It is like any capacitor, but on steroids,” said Mark Kaulback, chief operating officer of Payzone Directional Drilling. The company wants to use it to increase the power available downhole while it is drilling horizontal wells, allowing it to communicate faster to downhole tools using electromagnetic telemetry (EM). In some of the busiest formations, such as the Bakken and the Permian Basin, it has to rely on mud-pulse telemetry. EM offers more bandwidth and is not interrupted when drilling stops and the mud pumps are shut down, so it also saves time and money.

The goal is to use the extra power to maintain EM connections in reservoirs where it currently isn’t available, since EM does not have the downhole power to generate a signal capable of overcoming the resistivity of the rock and the distances a signal must travel, Kaulback said. Payzone is planning to test a combination of the FastCap ultracapacitor and lithium-thionyl chloride batteries, which are now the standard for directional drilling.

“This system could be a game-changing technology to provide power for EM telemetry drilling” if the combination delivers as planned, Kaulback said. Payzone is now doing lab tests and hopes to do a field test later in the year.

Some companies are also looking to see if the ultracapacitor can be used in tandem with downhole electric generators, Beard said. The capacitor would step in and provide power when the generator stops because the mud pumps are not working.

Beard said most E&P companies are more interested in the ultracapacitor’s ability to deliver large amounts of power, as well as its power control system that limits the number of rapid discharges, which can quickly kill a battery.

The allure of such a power option isn’t new. There have been many promising power innovations over the years that have all looked like the future but which have not been heard from since. Some of those projects are still around—battery development is a long-term proposition—but others failed to catch on in the E&P market, which presents difficult technical challenges.

“We meet with a lot of disbelief,” Beard said. “A lot of big companies also tried to make high-temperature batteries. A lot of companies with really gigantic resources and a lot of PhDs and resources tried this and have not gotten it to work.”

FastCap’s technology was developed with support from the US Department of Energy, which is seeking a power source for drilling in geothermal wells where temperatures far exceed what available batteries can tolerate. The FastCap capacitor has been tested at temperatures of up to 150oC in the Sandia National Laboratories. Beard said that tests at 215oC were scheduled in February, and that the plan is to ultimately certify it to operate at 250oC.

One of the company’s technical advisors is Richard Sears, a consulting professor in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford University, who sees it as a useful complement to batteries that could allow safer operations.

“What a great application for an ultracapacitor,” Sears said. “It can store power from lithium or alkaline batteries and take care of high power demand that comes in burst during transmissions.” He pointed to safety issues associated with lithium batteries, including their ability to catch fire or explode when there is a runaway thermal reaction, which has occurred in cars, laptops, passenger jets, and oil wells using lithium batteries. The FastCap website shows its ultracapacitors sawed in half or punctured and still working.

“If you actually eliminate lithium batteries from the oil and gas business, you are really doing a good thing,” said Sears, who served as an advisor for the national commission that investigated the Macondo blowout after retiring from Shell Oil deepwater exploration.

It is too soon to know what, if any, niche will be there for FastCap’s capacitors. But Beard says there is no shortage of interest.

“Every time we talk to someone new, we come up with a different type of problem,” Beard said. “They are not shy about telling us their problems. When you talk to someone about batteries, it turns into a therapy session for their battery-related drilling issues.”

Stephen Rassenfoss is the Emerging Technology Senior Editor for the Journal of Petroleum Technology.

FastCAP to Unveil New Technologies at OTC 2014

Join FastCAP at booth 687 on May 5-8 at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, where FastCAP will demonstrate its game-changing power systems in real time, and have engineers on hand to discuss their breakthrough capabilities. FastCAP will demonstrate its Ulysses Line of Power Systems, and unveil exciting new technologies for 2014.

Founded in 1969, the Offshore Technology Conference brings together companies and individuals from all aspects of offshore energy exploration, including parties in the fields of drilling, exploration, production, and environmental protection. OTC is held annually at Reliant Center in Houston, and ranks among the largest 200 trade shows held annually in the United States. OTC is among the 10 largest meetings in terms of attendance, with attendance consistently exceeding 80,000, and with more than 2,500 companies participating in the exhibition. OTC includes attendees from around the globe, with more than 110 countries represented at recent conference, and is organized and operated exclusively to promote and further the advance of scientific and technical knowledge of offshore resources and environmental matters.