Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The unit offers .65kWh working at 24 volts, 20amps continuous with a charge time of 90 seconds. The package is 101mm^3 or about the size of a 1 liter bottle of water or 2 DVD cases put together. If you're trying to imagine if this is something that could fit into a wearable power vest, it could...easily. According to Bret Decelle, historian of EEStor Inc., this new finding represents the first known packaging information for an EESU providing " a usable amount of energy in a usable package." To gain an understanding of the capabilities, imagine that you have what amounts to an iGo-like external battery source connected to your laptop. On a contemporary Dell D830 laptop (or any regular laptop) whose battery life is currently around 4hrs, an EESU as described in the trademark document would give you 35 hrs of run time. Or roughly speaking 7 cross country flights without recharging. An iGo device that had various output cabling converters could keep you mobile for days under normal use. All of this would be with a 90 second charge time using a specialized charger.
Another way to think about this is that in the footprint of a slightly larger than a DVD case, you would have the energy equivalent of a modern car battery or something that weighs 60lbs reduced down to 5lbs...certainly a key advantage for anyone not to mention a warfighter.
Following Lockheed Martin's recent receipt of a patent application for a body armor garment with energy storage capabilities, the use of the phrase EESU or Electrical Energy Storage Unit has been debated as to origin and status in ordinary language. The current trademark protection ends at least part of this debate.
Many interesting questions are raised by this new revelation first among them is certainly the following: is this a specification for a Lockheed wearable power unit, a LightEVs ebike or a set of units (just under 100) which are assembled together into the 52kWh EESU destined for Zenn Motor Company?
See TheEEStory.com for further discussion. A Forum Topic was created to discuss this new information.
Special Thanks to Bret "BretSpot" DeCelle for help with this article. His EEStor timeline can be found here:
Sunday, December 28, 2008
The application goes on to describe a new form of utility garment that includes body armor among other things. Specifically, the application discusses that the electrical energy storage unit "substantially conforms to an armour plate." The plate in turn may be "contoured to better fit a person wearing armor."
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the application is that the EESU is described as "soft" and apparently aids the resistance of the armour:
The soft nature of electrical energy storage layers 203 and 401 a-401 h, relative to armor plate 201 , causes a ballistic round or fragment to spiral upon striking one of layers 203 and 401 a-401 h, which provides an enhancement to the ballistic resistance of armor plate 201
The application goes on to describe power redundancy in the overall garment:
Preferably, the electrical energy storage layer comprises a plurality of sections so that, if one of the plurality of sections is damaged, the other sections of the plurality of sections remain operable. Two or more sections of the plurality of sections of the electrical energy storage layer may be electrically coupled, either in parallel or in series. The body armor includes one or more connectors electrically coupled with the electrical energy storage layer and/or with one or more of the sections of the electrical energy storage layer. The electrical connectors provide access to electrical power stored in the electrical energy storage layer.
The electrical storage layer sits outside the armor layer.
The application includes generality for a lithium ion storage unit as well as a fuel cell storage for recharging the eesu or Li battery and names Toby D Thomas and David L. Hoelscher as inventors. Die hard EEStory followers will recall that the Department of Defense Wearable power competition that took place this past summer listed Hoelscher as it's team lead. Lockheed listed this URL as it's home website.
To discuss this topic, please visit this thread started by GaryB at TheEEStory.com. Thanks Gary!
At the time of posting this article, Lockheed Martin was not available for comment.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
For those wondering what will be under their Christmas tree this year, all that I can tell you at this point is I DONT KNOW! Meaning: I have no new information to change anything I've stated previously. So, if you've already begun lighting your menorah, perhaps the second blessing each night should hold special significance for you:
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.
Happy Other Holidays! Peace!
Monday, December 22, 2008
I sat down recently to tackle the goal of gaining a better understanding of the economic benefits of having a home based EEStor EESU. I decided to focus on 3 main areas of possible payback:
1) Moving from non-electric to fully electric (or hybrid) vehicles
2) Moving from peak to off-peak energy costs
3) Introducing home based solar and/or wind energy generation
[note: there will be at least 2 parts to this article series]
The plan is to summarize my current consumption, calculate energy cost deltas and factor in capital outlays to produce overall economic benefit statements. The guiding principle of this exercise is to use as little math as possible to make a plain English, cocktail-party-type value statement for why items 1-3 would be valuable for consumers. A remote goal of this amateur study is to find a conceptual foundation upon which one could better understand the value of the EEStor EESU to businesses of various types.
Confession: my attention span often lets me down when it comes to even small amounts of basic math. Secondly, I'm not an accountant, but I can say with some certainty that this exercise will go better for you if you start by keeping separate operating vs capital costs. Bundling it all together is best saved for the last step since it builds upon having some basic concepts arranged appropriately.
I started with my latest electrical energy bill to learn that for the 12 months ended Sept 30, 2008, my household consumed 16,000kWh at a cost of $1070. My house could certainly benefit from some updated windows & insulation but the analysis justifying that is out of scope here.
To make this article more interesting, I set aside the actual energy/cost requirements of my daily commute in favor of a scenario I think may be more interesting to "people like me." Assume with me, that I have 2 SUV's each getting 15mpg and having 20 mi one way commutes (40mi round trip--yes, probably not typical).
2.67gal/day/vehicle x 2vehicles =
Today, gas in my area costs $2/gal x 5.33 gal/day.
$10.66/day x 5 days/wk = $53.3/wk x 52wks/yr =
$2771/fuel costs for 2SUV's.
Switching from Gas to Electricity
If I switched to an EESU based solution (eg, cityZenn) and accept the specs offered with a 52kWh EESU, I would get 300 miles on a full charge.
For (2) 40mi commutes, one would need 80mi/5.77mi/kWh=13.9kWh/day. At my current electrical cost, that 13.9kWh/day x .0668c/kW = $0.93. With gasoline, the 2 SUV's require $10.66/day. With electrical energy, that drops to 0.93c/day. Carry it out .93/day x 5days/wk = $4.64/wk x 52wks = $241/yr. Again, compare $2771 in fuel costs to $241 in electrical energy costs for a net savings of $2771-$241 = $2530/yr. (Additional savings comes from using off-peak electricity. See below.)
Switching from Peak to Off-Peak Electricity
In my area, off-peak electricity rates are approximately (but not quite) half the cost of peak rates. My regular household electricity requirements are 43.84kWh where as my commuting requirements were 13.9kWh.
The cost of that much electricity is $3.86/day or $1408/yr. By charging the EESU at night with off-peak energy, the overall electricity cost reduces by half (for easy math).
Time to put a few calculations together to grab a new rough net reduction in operating costs. At peak, my house electricity is $1070/yr + $2771/yr for gasoline = $3841. By using off-peak electricity for both, my cost goes down to $655.
By switching from gas to electric vehicle and moving from peak to off-peak electrical energy, my operating savings would be $3186/yr when gasoline is at $2/gallon. Obviously at $4/gas, it would be a hell of a lot more.
Switching from Grid to Solar & Wind
To start the analysis of reducing my dependency on the grid for electricity, let me restate that I need 16000kWh per year for my home and 3614kWh per year for my commute for a total of 19614kWh/yr.
This is a good place to end part 1. Looking forward to feedback on what we've got here so far.
To comment, visit TheEEStory.com/blog
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Following this development, EEStor Inc. issued a two character statement:
Friday, December 12, 2008
As if EEStor didn't already have enough competitors with ultra-deep, uber-bottomless pockets. Let's see, you've got the oil companies, the Asian electronics companies who own the lithium ion market, the capacitors industry, the internal combustion engine auto parts industry, and just about every industry that comes to mind. This is not a David and Goliath story. This is a David and Army of Goliath's story.
There's no time to lose, Dick, get your shades on and get out there and FIGHT MAN FIGHT!!!!
[TV ANNOUNCER VOICE ] In business news, a fight broke out today on the energy storage playground. Several industries chose to tangle with 70 yr old inventor, Dick Weir, founder and CEO of EEStor Inc. We have some dramatic footage just in.
This broadcast was brought to you by Lockheed Martin, makers of NEO Wearable Power for Hackers or Catholic Clergy. EEStor Inside.
Note: Dick Weir's makeup by Just for Men.
To discuss this and every other topic about EEStor, see: TheEEStory.com
Image Source: Gary Land.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Starting over. Ahem. Ian Clifford participated in a virtual chat today over here. Inevitably, the question arose about the status of the EESU expected to be delivered this month and of course, the answer was a non-material one. This troubled some observers who are a bit jittery at this stage in the game. Perfectly understandable. But rather than picture Ian Clifford fighting investors in court several months for now, I'd like to offer an alternative vision of what could be transpiring this month. This is a speculative piece not to be confused with a history since it has to do with the future (inserted here for legal experts reading this). This is what I envision and I offer it to those of you tempted to fall into the pessimistic court room drama fantasy. Cheer up, mate.
It's a cold December (2008) day outside the offices of Zenn Motor Company headquarters when the UPS truck rolls up not so stealthily due to loud, party music emanating from front cab. Strangely, no one emerges until a couple songs play out. Then two or three similarly dressed individuals emerge from the truck and spend a few minutes extracting and loading up a large shipping crate. Whistling as they go, they work together to move the shipment to the front door where it is greeted by Ian Clifford, Brian Cott and 30 or so other interested persons. The delivery leader asks, "Who will sign for this?" Calmly, Ian Clifford takes one step forward and although his hand is shaking, he somehow manages to scribble out his own name, smudging the ink a bit due to some drooling and a diminishing control over his central nervous system. He hands the airbill back and after a deep breath and exhale, he manages to squeak out the following, "I give you the EESU. May it transport us to the future. " (oh wait, that's the flux capacitor--sorry).
With this, what ensues is something no UPS delivery team has ever experienced upon dropping off a simple package, ie, the package celebration to end all package celebrations. The Zenn staff erupts into screaming, jumping, high fiving, convulsing, swearing, cart wheeling, fainting, laughing and crying and even some angry angry growling. Some have brought alcohol and the overall scene quickly puts the shipment at risk. After a wrestling match determines the happiest particular individual, the cargo is shuttled in very awkwardly to a conference room that's been made over into a banquet setting. It is unboxed and placed in the middle of the table. A disco ball drops down from the ceiling at the precise time of the unveiling. More music. People are running all over the office, in and out and around and overall it seems as if the World Hockey Championship was just won by Zenn Motor Company. Some actually have hockey sticks with them to shake in the air.
At this stage, the rest of the scene that plays out can not be described on a family oriented blog such as this. Suffice it to say, some individuals crossed the line and now must survive on vested stock options the rest of their lives. (won't be a problem)
15 days later, the human sized energizer bunny, that's been packed with lead to weigh 4 metric tons, and which is connected to the shiny new EESU is still going and going and...............................GONE!!!!!!!!! ;-)
Note: this story was not written by Godot....or Beckett.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Here's an interesting snippet from the article:
Percentage of new car buyers in California who say they would buy an electric car for their next vehicle
Amount of crude oil the New York Power Authority estimates it saved by retrofitting school buses to electric power, providing incentives for electric cars and other initiatives aimed at boosting electric transportation
Number of electric vehicles expected on the roads in Europe, their biggest market, by 2015
Top speed of a Zenn neighbourhood car
Average speed on Manhattan streets
Note also, Clifford will answer questions for theglobeandmail.com on Friday. More info at TheEEStory.com
Monday, December 1, 2008
Unfortunately, I can't tell you how happy to be or for what and to what degree. Therefore, holiday advice, like stock advice is not something we're qualified or prepared to offer. Just the plain, cold, boring facts as it relates to EEStor are what you will find here unfortunately. Peppered of course with a dash of enthusiasm.
Speaking of which, I had the opportunity to speak with Catherine Scrimgeour of Zenn Motor Company this morning as she traveled to an event in Mexico. She reiterated her previous statement confirming today that "things are still on track" for EEStor's delivery of a working EESU in 2008. Rumor has it this was also validated by EEStor although that cannot be confirmed at this time. It may have been mentioned in a chat room session at TheEESTory.com but your mileage may vary.
Entering now a bit of speculation. It is this blogger's perspective that if Zenn and EEStor are in agreement of the delivery of a prototype EESU, something produced by EEStor's production line, then it sets the stage for a definitive resolution of all of the scientific doubts that have plagued EEStor to date (not that an appropriate use of doubt wasn't valuable for a company in their position. ) Why? Zenn would have something that can be looked at by a third party, tested, validated, digested, stained, dry cleaned, paraded around on everyone's shoulders like an object of worship or an athlete who made the game winning play, etc. The issue of permittivity would also be settled since as Ian Clifford stated previously, delivery of a production line unit to Zenn implies permittivity. That is of course, if the concept of permittivity actually applies to what EEStor is producing and isn't a mere red herring.
If all of this comes to pass, and you logically connect the dots, what Zenn Motor appears to be confirming is EEStor permittivity and prototypes that will be announced and delivered this month, ie, in the next 30 days. Only time will say for sure at this point. A residual impact of this all coming to be might be to throw the ball back in Zenn's court to demonstrate some progress in their manufacture of the cityZenn and progress on their business plan to date. This might be a good time to recollect the Zenn Motor milestones in favor of cityZenn. Anyone?
As for this blogger, I can say I will be happy to see Godot. Like many of you, I have quite a few questions for him. ;-)
Discussions of this topic can occur here.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Article continued here.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Carl Watkins is a very calm man. There's no tension in his voice as he responds to questions I throw at him over the course of three or four phone interviews. He's definitely not in a rush to do anything very quickly when it comes to EEStor. You almost get the feeling that Watkins is already enjoying a sort of retirement from conflict now that he and his team own the exclusive rights to EEStor technology for all three wheeled vehicles and a portion of the two wheeled vehicle market. Where does that peace of mind come from?
First, Watkins and team are very comfortable with the progress EEStor is making towards ramping up production in 2009. What's left to do is described by Watkins as having been done elsewhere before and well understood. Just a matter of execution. Secondly, Watkins is basing his marketing efforts on the un-hyped logic that flows from simple demonstrations of technology that he will allow his prospects to experience prior to signing a deal with LightEVs.
Do you have anything to show them now? "No."
Then how are you going about things prior to being able to do that?
Monday, November 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This Halloween, TheEEStory.com advises you to carefully examine everything you are given to make sure you can separate trick from treat, especially if what you are hoping to bag is news regarding EEStor Inc.
Those predicting EEStor tricks were quick to devour GM-Volt.com's recent report that there would be no EESU's delivered in 2008. Many other blogs and even the New York Times (for God's sake) covered this tricky story and cited funding issues as the reason for the delay. Skeptics of EEStor's claims, (many of whom have set up camp at TheEEStory.com) reveled gluttonously in the supposed news indicating it was further proof that EEStor will not deliver on it's claims. But was this pre-halloween celebration a bit premature? Yes.
[Article continued here]
Friday, October 17, 2008
Halfway through my hour long Sept 29, 2008 interview of Carl Watkins, President of LightEVs, a phone he's set up to screen calls rings in the background. I joke that it's Dick Weir calling to get Watkins to stop talking to me. Watkins finds that amusing and wonders aloud if some of what he's already shared with me is permissible under his NDA with EEStor. I tell him not to worry about that just to keep talking. His laughter now is interrupted by the voice message being recorded in the background. I can hear it because its coming across a speakerphone and because Watkins pauses to listen himself. It's John Stephens calling to let Carl know that he's just had a serious offer from someone who wants to invest in their company.
I say to him, "that was quick." Watkins says yes but he's not interested in outside investment. Their plan is to fund this to completion with their existing group. So, how much does an EEStor license for ebikes cost anyway? Watkins laughs at the forward question. He pauses and says, "I can't discuss that, " so I start to ask another question but he interrupts and says, "It was substantial. I will say that. It was a substantial amount but I'm not going to say how much it is." He did confirm that it consisted of at least 2 parts: an up front fee and a payment upon delivery of production line prototype, similar to Zenn Motor Company.
What made him comfortable signing with EEStor? Watkins reveals that it was a 4 year conversation initiated by Dick Weir:
"Basically, his philosophy is he wants to keep control of the company. So if he can raise money from people like me or Zenn, he doesn't have to sell equity. So his method and objective of financing the company was to approach various people to see if anyone was interested in a technology agreement which is essentially the ownership of the technology in a certain segment of the market. "
Monday, October 13, 2008
Toward the tail end of the project, when success was in sight, the project's leader, Gen. Leslie Groves, who also oversaw the rapid construction of the Pentagon (the largest office building of it's day), approached the New York Times to appoint a science writer, William L. Laurence, to work on a major wartime story involving science. Laurence had a track record of writing on the relevant areas of atomic research and was allowed access several top secret events including the testing at Trinity site along with the bombing of Japan, with two production line prototypes. Spies infiltrated the project ensuring that the United States would always have nuclear rivals.
Comparing EEStor's work to a Manhattan project is in many ways much more than a stretch, but it's something EEStor's leader appears to have no problem doing. In addition to statements Dick Weir made to Tyler Hamilton in this regard, I can confirm that Weir made a similar statement to me (one of multiple interviews I subsequently chose not to publish...yet) showing not only that the words were chosen deliberately but via repetition, underscored as if to advance a message. But a message to whom and for what?. What I can say is that ever since he said it, my radar has been locked onto any reference to Manhattan Project in the context of alternative energy, not so much because I believe the US Government is funding secret research in this area but more to the point, the use of an odd phrase like that is a linguistic clue that occasionally implies a community of closely related persons with a common set of experiences. Phrases sometimes are constituent to shared histories.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
For historical purposes, it's important to note that the secrecy surrounding EEStor's activities has largely been attributed to EEStor. This probably makes persons familiar with how Kleiner Perkins manages it's investments chuckle somewhat. Maybe there are several sources for this information but I've been reading David A. Kaplan's book "The Silicon Boys and Their Valley of Dreams" to understand better how Kleiner operates. Most of what I write in this topic is based on Kaplan's book so hopefully you'll forgive the lack of exact citation and simply go buy the book yourself immediately and without delay. Or, maybe you'll be kind enough to post a blog comment with an even more revealing book, article or conjecture.
There are at least 3 reasons EEStory fans should read Kaplan's book. First, it goes into some detail about the rigor behind Kleiner's efforts to find winning projects including weeding through proposals, eliminating weaknesses and finally settling on an extremely select few in which to invest their millions. Convincing Kleiner to invest in your project is an accomplishment in itself. Due diligence is almost always involves bringing in SME's from the field of interest. (something I learned myself by speaking with persons Kleiner spoke to about EEStor, ie, John Miller). Second, it speaks to how involved Kleiner becomes in day to day operations of a start up. Kaplan says the first law of Kleiner according to John Doerr is "identify the risk up front and get rid of it." A good excercise for EEStoryians is to ask what that risk may have been for EEStor. The third reason for examining Kaplan's almost 10yr old book is that it speaks to the use of stealth as a market strategy.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
In April 2008, John Doerr gave a keynote speech at MIT, the alma mater and former employer of EEStor inventor Carl Nelson. The setting was the 2008 Energy Conference and Doerr kept the session interactive by a subtle and unusual technique of soliciting groups of questions which were responded to with individual attention inconsistently, allowing him to sidestep a question about electrification which seemed to provoke an intriguing set of behavioral cues the interpretation of which is best left to experts. Doerr pointed out that over the years, MIT had invested $50Mil in KPCB ventures from which $500Mil had been returned. Additionally, Doerr pointed out that 6 of the 30 green tech ventures they are backing are in the area surrounding MIT, not including A123 Systems which was funded by Kleiner rival Sequoia Capital...among others.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Note: I'm going to postpone the posting of the interview with Carl Watkins of LightEVS for the time being. Instead, I'm going to put in front of it some very interesting information I've learned from speaking with some of the entities who were approached by LIghtEVS at Interbike regarding the EEStor technology that was just announced.
First, I have been in contact with some of the exhibitors at Interbike 2008 who have shared with me their experience of talking with Carl Watkins and John Stephens at the show. These sources have asked to remain anonymous so that their disclosures do not impact their ability to possibly utilize the EEStor technology in their ebikes. They have agreed to stay in contact with me as they go through their discussions with LightEVS although they recognize that at some point NDA's will shut off their ability to share information.
I am told that Mr. Watkins and Mr. Stephens approached many exhibitors at Interbike to discuss their license. The uniform first impression of those I've spoken to is that their pitch set off many scammer alarm bells for those who heard it. The pitch included many hitherto unseen capabilities in the ebike world:
Monday, September 29, 2008
Ever since we learned last week of the DoD Wearable Power competition that is occurring now, there's been a swirl of speculation as to whether or not Lockheed Martin is fielding EEstor technology in the event. For my part, I've tried to get Lockheed to comment but have been unable to find anyone who will either confirm or DENY that EEStor technology is in the mix. The most I've heard is that Craig Vanbebber responded to some questions posed by Bettina Chavanne from Aviation Week about this topic but did not provide definitive information. I haven't been able to reach Mrs. Chavanne either. So, my next step was to contact the official channels and was able to reach Cdr Darryn James, who is listed as a contact for the contest. He mentioned to me that he was working on a new press release at that very moment with the names of the top 20 teams still in the competition. He could not confirm or deny EEStor involvement and wasnt familiar with all details like that. Lockheed was definitely in the final 20.
So, it was in that dark, uninformed scenario, that I thought I'd make one last attempt by querying a definitive source, ie, Dick Weir. In reading through my interview notes, I can see that it will appear that I really pressed him for an answer on the competition. I noticed that I failed to get a "no" from him (what I've been looking to get from Lockheed too). In any case, I must have badgered him just enough to get him to mention his latest contract for which he anticipates seeing an announcement "soon."
Interview from Sept 29, 2008.
Dick Weir: Dick Weir
Blogger: Dick, do you have EEstor technology in the wearable power competition sponsored by the DoD?
DW: Who am I talking to?
B: This is the eestor blogger, sir. How are you doing today?
DW: Hey, how you doing? What we're doing with Lockheed is proprietary with Lockheed Martin. There is a huge demand though for the wearable power situation because of the problems in the field. And EEstor thinks our technology is superior to lithium ion and so, if asked, we would certainly be willing to write a contract for batteries in the wearable power space.
B: Are you aware of the competition taking place right now sponsored by the Dept of Defense out in California at TwentyNine Palms...?
DW: yeah, we heard about that. That might be attractive. Right now we're on a path to produce batteries and things look great.
B: You know Senator John Warner was one of the sponsors of the bill that provided the funding for that type of a competition to support the military.
DW: Oh great, let me look into that.I wasn't aware that there was money involved. Let me take a peak at it.
B: It's a million dollar prize goes to the best wearable power out there today. And I've just learned that Lockheed Martin has made it into the final 20 teams but cant get confirmation as to whether or not they arefielding EEStor technology.
DW: Well EESTor is on a path. We've told everybody. This is not news that properly funded, we anticipate to be in production mid next year. If that meets that contest, then we'll probably serve up a battery for it. But we're on our path for success and we're plowing into that path and we're happy with our progress.
B: But that contest is taking place right now, sir.
DW: Im just telling you how I feel. We're very happy with our progress. And very happy that our battery will officially win a contract in that field when we have batteries to go and enter into military contracts.
B: One of the last things in relation to the last press release, was the desire on EEStor's part to achieve military specs. And people are trying to connect that press release to this contest.
DW: There are huge amounts of mission critical military contracts that need advanced technologies. And we will certainly compete in those as we go forward.
B: Are you in the competition?
DW: Im just saying. This is what I am saying. We are on a path here to be in production mid next year and with proper funding, thats what we're going through now and we're happy with that. We've landed another contract which is good and helps us, a very substantial contract with another company. With that now, we take those funds and move forward.
Complete Details including further interview questions to be posted later today. For discussion, visit TheEEStory.com
Previously, EEStor has signed agreements with Zenn Motor Company and Lockheed Martin.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Are you part of the EEStory? Yes/No? You're not sure. OK. But maybe you are. Maybe you lurk this site looking for references to what you know about EEStor. Question: wIll today be the day that the EEStor blogger tracks you down to solicit a comment? You never know! Maybe it would be better to proactively reach out to the blogger by sending an email to email@example.com? Take the case of Zibo Jiang from LInhai, China. In every way, just an ordinary graduate student embarking on what will certainly be a bright future for an extremely talented young person. A few years back, he studied in the UK at Birmingham University and moved on to MIT for a Masters of Engineering in Materials Science and Engineering. At some point in his journey, Mr. Jiang was bitten by the same bug that has bitten you dear reader. I'm talking about the EEStor bug of course. Mr. Jiang, like so many of us, succumbed to the mystery and [i] in partial fulfillment of the requirements[/i] for his degree, Mr. Jiang wrote a Master's Thesis on9url=http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/42142/228303788.pdf?sequence=1] "Technology Assessment and Market Analysis of Solid State Ultracapacitors."[/url] Welcome to the EEStory, Mr. Jiang! Yes, fascinating read, sir! What's that? You want to bring someone with you into the EEStory? Ok, no problem who? Sayt it again, didnt catch that. Your Thesis Supervisor? Yes, sure, no problem, the more the merrier. But why would your Thesis Supervisor come with you into the EEStory, sir? Who was your Thesis Supervisor? Yet-Ming Chiang. Hhmm....doesn't ring a bell. Wait a second, do you mean the Yet-Ming Chiang of A123 Systems fame?
Tomorrow, Sept 24, 2008 at 1000 EST, I will be joining the folks at EVCast for a little discussion about EEStor. It will be broadcast live and audience members can ask questions....not that I have anything interesting to say of course. Accordingly, it will probably be about a 5 minute conversation.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
About a month ago, following the hoopla concerning EEStor's most recent press release, I received an intriguing email from Michael Blieden, a movie/tv director whose work includes a fair bit of comedy, a documentary called Super High Me, and a series of music videos starring comedian/actor Zack Galifianakis lip syncing songs from biggies Kayne West, Fiona Apple and Aimee Mann among other things. Check out his website here. and see all of his work here. In his email, Blieden indicated he was an avid follower of the blog and alternative energy issues in general partially as a function of his father having worked on the Alternative Energy Commission for Jimmy Carter. Over the last 4 weeks, we've had some hit or miss communications but finally got together in person atop the Altitude Sky Lounge in the Gaslamp district of San Diego. The purpose of the meeting was simply to get a feel for each other and learn a little bit about Blieden's interest in doing a documentary about EEStor including some of the antics and drama that take place on this website.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Almost any mystery has the power to suck you in. What would my living room look like if I rearranged the furniture? What do my neighbors think of me? Could I earn more money if I tweaked my investment plan by doing X, Y or Z? Could I adapt my recipe for beef ribs by adding ___ and enhancing the flavor? For any topic, there's much room for misinterpreting, misunderstanding or just plain asking the wrong questions. We only have to look at a lot of the dialogue on this site and it's predecessor to see all of that type of speculation about various aspects of EEStor and the many attempts to crack the nut.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
The answer is both approachea complement each other. Truth comes when you ask the same questions in lots of different ways. But we don't always have the luxury of understanding something from all angles. Such is the case with what may be the most interesting public disclosure in the eestory: I'm talking about the interview of Lionel Liebman from Lockheed Martin posted January 10, 2008. See Also, the press release.
My first impression of that interview was that Liebman ....[article continued here].
to continue this article
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Discussions of articles with forums taking place here now: TheEEStory.com
If you follow developments of Apple Computers and imac, iphone, ithis, ithat, etc., you may be part of a very large group of people who spend considerable time anticipating new product developments. And certainly for every class of consumer products you have early adopters who pride themselves on having the latest and greatest gadget.
I would like to posit that what EEStor is working to produce may be the most widely anticipated technology ever in history in terms of commercial and governmental organaizations. By anticipated, I mean spending time tracking and following EEStor's development and speculating about it's use, impact and transformational effect on multiple large industries.
In comparison to an iPhone, what we're all focused on here at this site is nothing less than world changing having the potential to disrupt several industries rapidly. This cannot be overstated given the claims that originated in EEStor's early patents.
So, as the scientists here point out, "with extraordinary claims comes the requirement for extraordinary proof" and I will add to it extraordinary anticipation, discussion, dissection, hair splitting and yes, occasionally going around in circles.
Obviously, the investment anxiety is it's own animal. But I find the anxiety among those people who are simply looking for an energy solution fascinating. I especially love it when well informed people come along to shoe everyone away with "move along, there's nothing to see here." ...and then they hang out for a few months. :-)
Comments? visit TheEEStory.com
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
And then I woke up and I was thinking about.... what else? EESU's. Sometimes after a dream, your imagination is still firing. I pictured Dick Weir talking to investors, showing them prototypes and describing his process to build them but admitting he had a little problem. The problem was that as he made and then tested the prototypes, he noticed a bit of inconsistency in their storage density. But, he ran a few tests and knew now why this was happening. The problem stemmed from the *consistency* of the underlying materials. Some batches received powder of a certain "crystallization, size, purity, and polarization" but in others all of these were off in certain ways. And so it occurred to Weir that implementing certain quality control safeguards at key steps in production would cure these issues. And these steps included in some cases improved production equipment and in others better onboard testing. The beauty of his discovery of this inconsistency in production, to Weir, was a great thing because he learned how to tweak certain things to create different storage densities. Addressing all of these issues would be a "home run" or "the holy grail" of next generation energy storage...production.
Now remember, the above is my dream and my post dream thoughts. So I got up this morning and went back to EEStor's July 31 press release and do you know what word I focused in on? The last one in the PR. "Consistency." I would argue (with Steve, if no one else) that the most important word in that entire PR is "consistency." And if you put that concept in the context of great inventions of the past, it starts to make perfect sense.
EEStor has made it very clear both to me and other sources that they have been grappling with *production issues* not new explanatory models to convince skeptics that what they are producing is theoretically possible. I would ask everyone who has an interest in the EEStory to reflect on a simple question: how are we to understand production consistency? Isn't it the simple concept of you have a production line cranking out widgets and as you're tweaking things, you find that for every 100 units you produce, 18 of them don't meet specs...then you adjust and 18 goes to 12, make another adjustment and 12 goes to 6, make another adjustment and 6 goes up to 32, then back to 12, etc etc.
If you know the error rate of a production line, you can calculate it's throughput....or as they say in networking goodput. So, now fine reader, are there dots to be connected here, beginning with those found in Zenn's most recent "Management's Discussion and Analysis?"
Throughout the document, Zenn connects to varying degrees their mission, their goals and their progress to EESU's and cityZenn. And then this:
The Company is currently engaged in negotiating a supply agreement for the cityZENN project. While there has been substantial progress and management is confident of a positive outcome, there can be no assurance that the negotiations will conclude favorably until all documents are executed. Should the current negotiations not conclude favorably, the timing of the cityZENN project would change.
Wait!?! Where's the "imminent" permitivity announcement? How can we move forward without that? You, sir, are conflating two separate issues: Zenn's investment in EEStor which hinges on a permittivity milestone announcement and Zenn's "supply agreement" with EEStor....which may now be under negotiation. Why didn't Zenn say they are negotiating with EEStor specifically? I have not read Zenn's Non Disclosure Agreement with EEStor but I'd bet its potentially interesting reading because it would reveal what it is that Zenn can't say about EEStor.
Let's talk about "supply agreements" now. (shout out to Steve for highlighting the need for copious use of quotation marks). If you're building something, which supply agreements are the most likely to have a material effect on your business?:
a) items invented a long time ago and produced for years and years b) items invented only recently and produced by the world's first production line of said
I vote for B! (ha, pun).
Roll out bullet number 3 in Zenn's MD&A:
The press release announced the achievement of important production results moving towards the commercialization of its technology. The release indicated third-party confirmation that EEStor’s technology will meet the voltage breakdown, polarization and saturation requirements considered necessary in the development of its EESU.
In this passage, is Zenn interpreting for us the EEStor press release? And what stands between the EESU and it's commercialization? A supply agreement maybe? But what could possibly be going on that would give Zenn's management confidence "of a positive outcome?" Could it be perhaps the consistency necessary to place an order of a certain size? Is Zenn asking for 32,000 pieces of original recipe in the first 6 months with options to buy 382,334 in each of the next 7.54 months??? Is EEStor coming back and saying something like this, "look, either you place an order for 66,000 for delivery by november 30 or else we're going to build the 232,000 needed by Lockheed first." What is going on there? I definitely don't know. So, what are your theories?
Wait a second, B, go back to permittivity. You're saying that's related to investment milestones not supply agreements? Wouldnt it make sense for EEStor to announce permittivity first and collect the additional investment? Poor reader, I don't know. But I can imagine a multitude of scenarios where EEStor would be willing to throw out some aggressive negotiation requirements.
Too much speculation for you in this posting? Be my guest and start asking Zenn more and better questions.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
1) click on the Search Database at the top of the page.
2) click on Public companies
3) In the search box, type Zenn Motor
4) You will get an initial result list. Click on the link for Zenn Motors and on the company overview, there will be a link to View this Public Company's documents
That should show you a full list of publicly available documents. I have found the one dated May 15, 2007 to contain some interesting EEStor Inc. info. More on this later.
Discuss your findings here http://www.theeestory.com/topics/93
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
But if you think the interesting discussions are only taking place in the invitation only section, take a peak at a developing thread here:
Going back to the old blog, Steve has made a sustained case that the recent EEStor press release has been largely underinterpreted and could possibly contain interesting subtext found in the phrasings EEStor chose to use. Now, Schneibster (whose photo appears to prove that he was 23yrs old way back in 1892) has breathed new life into this idea of Steve's all hinging on the use of the word potential in the press release. Schneibster, in a nod to the overall mystery of the EEStory has even left us this tantilizing tidbit:
I think that the above information gives enough clues to let someone who knows enough physics, electronics manufacturing, materials science, and electronics engineering to figure out what EEStor hopes to do. There is ample sourcing. It will be interesting to find out if I'm right. I've left out a few key points, and there's a major key point I expect no one outside of the company knows. And it's not the permittivity of the material, either.
Is the world we know changing or are we all caught up in a web of confusion?
Friday, August 8, 2008
1) Develop the product so it actually works
2) Figure out how to build it cost effectively including beta and/or small runs
3) Figure out how to scale a manufacture ability so that you're able to do it consistently and reliably
Investments in startups in the space are often pegged against crossing these 3 milestones. But for any reasonable person embarking on this en devour, the challenge is establishing proof of accomplishment at each stage without revealing too much that could be leaked to other players. And when funding originates from a VC firm, even getting something off the ground can be a delicate dance of sharing information and hiding it. Add to this the regular gamesmanship that occurs in any market, where one competitor snipes at their rivals, perhaps occasionally in part to draw the other out to reveal some important piece of information and you've created sufficient conditions for a reliance on sleeping pills. In EEStor's case, it has had to battle an additional element in it's march to the marketplace: notoriety fueled by major claims surrounded by stealthy activities. This has ensured that there will be steady stream of doubt up until and if they make it all the way to the marketplace.
So, if you're an outsider looking in, how are you to make sense of all of this, especially since all of the scientific elements sparks such deep disagreement? What alot of people have done is relied upon Tyler Hamilton's work thus far as he's done a good job of balancing wild claims with insights from skeptics. If you go back and read Tyler Hamilton's well researched piece in MIT's Technology Review from Jan 07 you will see that he's brought reputable subject matter experts into the storyline. In this particular article, he spoke with Dr. Andrew Burke , a Research Engineer with a strong understanding of transportation energy systems. I had learned of Hamilton's mention of Burke only after googling a bit after my own conversation with Burke today.
Dr. Burke was willing to spend a considerable amount of time with me discussing his opinion of the EEStor efforts. I learned that Burke was hired to visit with Dick Weir onsite at EEStor and evaluate his claims for a company ready to invest millions of dollars in EEStor. I will be posting that interview in its entirety but essentially, Burke recommended against investment in EEStor to his clients because Weir "refused to give us any technical information that would confirm the dielectric properties of his materials." But Burke did mention that he was able to "replicate the calculations in the patent disclosure" saying that they were "pretty straight forward." Keep in mind what is generically true: many VC firms will not sign NDAs prior to a meeting. This many times causes a group seeking funding to severely reduce what they are willing to share in discussions and/or presentations.
If Burke was willing to lay out what it would take for him to believe Weir, another gentleman I spoke to would have nothing of it. John Miller, who runs JME Inc., a supercapacitor materials evaluation company in Ohio, also spoke with me at length and went much farther than Burke in condemning the whole EEStor project as "violating nature." Like Burke, Miller was hired to assist with evaluating Weir's claims on behalf of potential investors. Miller added that he has actually been hired 3 times to evaluate Weir's claims and each time advised strongly against it. In addition to speaking with me for a considerable amount of time, Mr. Miller has also published his thoughts on EEStor in an up coming article in the Winter 2008 BEST Magazine (Batteries & Energy Storage Technology). In that article, Miller says of the patent description that "capacitors cannot reliably operate near the breakdown voltage as claimed." He goes on to say that the technology "is not scalable, " has heat management problems and could not be constructed reliably.
Together, Burke and Miller represent respected subject matter experts in their respective fields who were hired to evaluate the claims of EEStor for purposes of ascertaining whether or not it was a reasonable risk to invest. After reading the interviews, you could possibly glean an understanding of what Kleiner's John Doer meant when he referenced a storage company that was Kleiner's "highest risk, highest reward" investment. So although Burke and Miller would not have invested in EEStor, Kleiner and Zenn did. Of course, this is not earth shattering since not every startup lands successfully every pitch to every VC.
To discuss this blog entry, visit http://TheEEStory.com
Thursday, August 7, 2008
After some insightful conversations with various interested parties, I believe the best way forward for the near term is to post new articles to both locations with a link to the new beta site where comments can be posted. I will thus be shutting down comments on this blog in favor of moving discussion to a better blog/forum/chat format. It's not going to satisfy everyone's desires but early feedback is good from all who have seen it. Actually, I'll throw it out again...if you've been trying to get some content into an article shoot me an email and I'll let you be an alpha tester. (some of christine's research looks good but all are welcome)
In the event we run into technical glitches, we'll fall back to this site. Then until I can get all the blog posts migrated over to the new site...with comments, we'll run both sites in parallel. This will be nice for those of you who like to read the articles twice. :-)
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Related link from Jim Kingsdale's Energy Investment Strategies website.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Tyler Hamilton has released a new article on EEStor Inc including several insights from Dick Weir on Technology Review, published by MIT. I want to focus in on a key excerpt concerning EEStor's status with regard to production expansion and information flow:
Weir says that momentum is building and that he'll start coming out with information about the company's progress on a "more rapid basis." Plans are also under way for a major expansion of EEStor's production lines. "There's nothing complex in this," he says, pointing to his past engineering days at IBM. "It's nowhere near the complexity of disk-drive fabrication."
I think we had some good discussion yesterday in the area of understanding and/or speculating about what might be the underlying science behind EEStor's proposed innovations. With that in mind, a new thread posted on Google Groups came to my attention. I was wondering if the persons tackling all the science questions could have a read of this letter to Ian Clifford and then comment here on it's merits. My question for those in the know: does it summarize succinctly the scientific concerns or is it merely an aspect of a set of concerns? If you were writing to Ian Clifford to augment this letter, what else would you point out?
Note: the bottom of the thread seems to contain a person unhappy with the way comments are deleted here. Let me shed some light on that. The goal isn't to censor anyone or delete any content containing skepticism towards EEStor. Rather, the goal is to simply keep the discourse professional & respectable while leaving as much room as possible for idiosyncratic personality traits to leak in occasionally. :-) If a posting is deleted, it's probably violated the norms of ordinary social discourse by being highly inflammatory, overtly rude or vulgar. I'm still investigating a system to allow users to report these types of comments...until then, just shoot me a note if you find something distasteful: firstname.lastname@example.org PS. That i included this silly paragraph violates advice I keep getting from interested parties with alot of experience running forums--they advise simply dropping the issue and letting the overall content of the blog comments speak for themselves. Good idea.
Monday, August 4, 2008
The San Francisco Chronicle has an article on the Zenn low speed electric cars. Mentioned therein is Green Motors who has sold 36 cars since December. The article states that this vehicle operates at a cost of 3cents/mile vs gasoline powered cars at 10cents/mile.