Friday, August 29, 2008

EEStor's Potential for Production Consistency: Finger Licking Good

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Late last night, after ZMC announced it's Q3 progress, I went to bed and had a strange dream. In the dream, I'm standing at the counter of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant about to place my order with what can only be described as a very intelligent-looking fast food worker who is smiling knowingly. Instead of simply making my request, I felt a deep sense of doubt and found myself saying this, "will you be able to provide me with a 3 piece meal of original recipe?" The answer was a barrage of technical jargon describing the cooking process, the worthiness of the staff and a lot of very technical terms I had never heard before. OK, I said, I'll take one. After what seemed like a pretty long wait, my tray was put in front of me and it contained--and I'm not making this up--a single chicken leg. But it was the size of a giant turkey leg. I looked up in disbelief at what I got and received an immediate response, "ok, alright, hang on a second." The tray was whisked away and another tray was put in front of me. This time I was staring at strange casserole-like mish mash of chicken pieces. At this point, I started to realize something was not right and I had to get out of there. I was so confused by the expectations I had built up over a lifetime of eating KFC, but still convinced that the ability to produce what I had once enjoyed was now somehow impossible.

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

Zenn Disclosure Documents

For those looking to gain a better understanding of Zenn Motors from the perspective of it's public filings, we can now point you to at SEDAR which is "the electronic filing system for the disclosure documents of public companies and investment funds across Canada." The ToS seem to prevent linking directly to the Zenn Motor documents but what you need to do is:
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

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Potential Rise of the Mysterious EEStory Forums Potential

There's been a bit of grumbling about the new forums based format but overall, the vast majority of feedback has been positive. Tom Villars had the good idea to let some academics have some breathing room for a no-science-holds-barred discussion which seems to be developing nicely here:

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

Beta testing of has begun.

EEStor's Funding Stage Challengers

The history of the energy storage market is peppered with tales of stolen intellectual property. Such is the opinion of a person I spoke with recently who is familiar with the industry and knowledgeable about many of the companies within it. Given this historical blemish, market participants have had to adopt increased caution in bringing innovations into being. Typically, a company with something new goes through 3 main steps:

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

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New Forums / New Article

Although I always catch grief for it but, I wanted to let everyone know I am working on a new article which will likely be posted tomorrow evening.

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

Even More info from Tyler Hamilton on EEStor

In his blog, Tyler Hamilton provides additional information about his recent conversation with Dick Weir. Here's the link Hamilton says that Weir likened EEStor's work to the Manhattan II project. That's actually someting Dick told me as well last Friday. I'll post more information about that conversation now that Tyler has provided a good foundation.

Note: We will be transitioning to a new web platform in the coming days. We'll probably turn off comments on this blog but continue to post new content until a majority have migrated over to the new site. I'll be investigating ways to import the old content to the new site. Overall the plan will be to transition slowly---we will probably encounter bugs, unexpected issues, etc. But we'll work through them. Testing on the new platform is going well. I probably need about 3-4 people to help with a second round of testing so shoot me an email if you can assist. Actually, maybe I should combine a couple desires here. If you've contacted me about some content you want to get up on the blog, shoot me an email because you can throw it up in the forums and we'll see if you encounter any issues. email:

New EEStor Forums

Tom Villars is helping me test out some forums software to improve the ability for folks to track discussions.   We're still thinking through a couple issues related to transitions but I think we should have the system up and running this week.   Feel free to offer any suggestions for Forum names and any other features you'd like to see.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I need some help

If you have any experience migrating a blog from blogspot to a regular domain, can you shoot me a note? Looking for a clue with regard to google pagerank and SEO, etc. Wondering about dual posting blog entries, etc. shoot me an email to : t h a n k s...

New Tyler Hamilton Article on EEStor Inc.

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."

Letter to Ian Clifford regarding "the science"

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: 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

San Francisco Chronicle on Zenn Motors

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. 

Astonishingly absent from the article is any mention of EEStor.....orthis blog. :-) Guess someone needs to light up the comments section? 

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Installing Intense Debate

I've been trying to add features to this blog to make it easier to follow comment threads but also to report inappropriate comments.  I found IntenseDebate and think it may do the trick for us. I tested it a bit on another of my blogs and everything seemed to work fine but when i installed it here, I freaked out because it set all the comment counts to 0, ie, I thought I lost all of the comments!  I was able to revert back to blogger's comment system though and all the comments were still there. I may try again if any of you experience flaky behavior...that's whats going on.  

Friday, August 1, 2008

Mea Culpa

When I started putting this blog together, I had a really modest goal:  organize some information about EEStor in a blog format so that people could find it easily, read and discuss it.  My attraction to the EEStory was not unlike many of you--skeptics and fans of EEStor alike--in that, I saw a bit of hope in the work being carried out at EEStor which could benefit alot of people around the world today and possibly free our economy and ourselves from dependency on oil.  The more I dug into the story, the more fascinated I got in large part because EEStor has held on to its secrecy for so long.  Many people sent me encouraging notes to continue to work to make sense of what is happening at EEStor. 

I got a lucky break in my efforts in that Dick Weir actually gave me the time of day to take a phone call from me.  He didn't have to do that.  I was attacked personally for making this claim and understandably some of that originates from my intention to maintain this blog anonymously and my admission that I own stock in Zenn Motors....but alot of it stems from a distinct lack of manners and civility and greed that lives in our culture unfortunately.   Mr. Weir has been nothing but kind to me in taking my calls and helping me understand what he was able to relay and still stay on course with his mission.   

Alot of people ask me, "what do you make of Dick Weir as a person, do you believe him?"  I say this truly, I like Dick Weir, I do believe him and I would like him even if this EEStor technology never comes to fruition. Why do I feel that way about someone I've never met in person but only spoken to over the phone?   Reason #1: Weir is a friendly soul.  My personal take on him, which I am sure other people will validate, is that he is not pompous, cocky, off-putting or in any way snooty, rude or combative. He's inviting, jolly, friendly and amusing--with a good sense of humor.   My read is he's not out to prove anything to anybody from a personality point of view.  I honestly think that we have a man here who has been plying away at a practice or trade for maybe 50 years with a discipline and focus that is uncommon except among pioneers.   So because EEStor has chosen to keep a low profile as they go through steps to develop their business--protect their IP, build out their production--that this implies they are scamming everyone?   Let me be very clear here:  if you talk with Dick Weir yourself, you will very quickly see that this is not the type of person who pulls scams. Make up your own mind on this but I am telling you, the reader of this blog, that I do not sense any shred of scam or hoax in Dick Weir at all. Zero. I'm not saying I am an expert at reading people but I have common sense.  And one thing I can tell you is that the way some people express themselves in the comments threads, even if they turn out to be correct about whatever it is they are trying to prove, I would not trust them.  Because, your character is a clue to your honesty and trustworthiness.

So, as I stand back and look at what has become of this blog, I can see that I have not done a good job of sticking to what I had originally laid out back in June when I said:

In the meantime, moving forward, I'm more than a little concerned about the level and quality of comments being posted on my blog.  What we all have in common is an interest in whether or not EEStor can deliver this amazing technology. We can disagree and even be cranky about each other's assessments of this. But I'd like to ask that everyone show a little more civility and class.  My blog is like my home. If I invite you in, act like a guest.  I'm going to hold off moving to a moderated comment format for now. My guess is there are always going to be a few people who go beyond polite skepticism and issue vulgarities to ruin the atmosphere. If it keeps up, I'll have to moderate the comments.  

Now, it seems to me I have made a mistake.  In my attempt to increase discussion, I changed the format of the blog to allow anonymous posting. And even among posters with recurring usernames, I have not stuck to my plan to try and keep the discourse on this blog civil. I would also like to thank Steve for making this clearer to me via email. He was right that anonymous posting and some of the comments posted should be deleted immediately. I am taking corrective actions on that now.  Anonymous posting is no longer permitted.  Further, I am going to make an effort to remove comments that are not respectful and/or offensive and I would ask help from readers to do this well. Simply shoot me an email with a link and reference to an offensive post, and I will delete it after considering the merits.  Now, of course, this is probably going to become unmanageable. So I may have to move to fully moderated comments only. Thats where all comments have to go to me in email and I have to manually approve each one.  I'm not a fan of that format because I believe real dialogue is hampered in part due to the time delays....but I'm going to try and maintain a clean blog here.   I'm asking for some help from the readers on this. 

So, taken altogether here, I'd like to apologize to EEStor and to Dick Weir, personally for not doing a better job of maintaining a blog worthy of being a source of information for EEStor. I think I can do a better job moving forward and restore some of the innocence that sparked my efforts to launch this blog.  And if you, the reader,  think these words from me sound strange, then consider this:  imagine you came up with  a great technology that could help many people, but as you stuck to your plans, kept your head down and moving forward,  people started to attack you personally--people who have never met you, calling you things which should only be reserved for unaccomplished slothful people....eventually it would wear you down.  And you know what, in Mr. Weir's case,  it's completely undeserved.   Before it's all said and done, if all goes well, the man may be awarded a Nobel prize for his breakthroughs. 

And I'd also like to apologize to readers who have been offended at some of the comments on this blog. Please email me any offensive comments and I will do my best to delete them. 

Invariably, some questions may arise as to why I deleted certain comments and not others. All I can say to you is if you had a comment deleted, it was probably disrespectful or contained content which included a personal attack.  I would invite you to direct your energy elsewhere to conduct yourself in that manner.  But I would also invite you to resubmit your comment devoid of personal attacks.  This can be a place where people debate, but it is my blog and I want to keep the discourse at a higher level. 

And I would pledge that if I can't operate this blog in a manner befitting it's subject matter, then I will have to close up shop which would be really disappointing to a lot of people. 

Finally, I don't need to run this blog.My main motivation is to increase awareness of what EEStor is up to in the hopes that in some small way, it could hasten it's arrival.  That's something on which even skeptics who comment here can agree with me. 

Instructions for Setting up EEStor Patent Updates

Good Friday Morning to all the European Patent Office staff who read this blog regularly. You may wish to call up your IT Support staff to check capacity, because you're about to get a wee bit of EEStor obsessed traffic.

Thanks to Tom Villars, the only non-anonymous reader/commentator on this blog, we have an excellent set of instructions for how to get automated EEStor patent alerts. You will get emailed alerts any time a patent application is updated. This of course will be no substitution for following the thorough and precise slicing and dicing, mincing and hair splitting that takes place here on this blog by the giants of the EEStory, Satya51, TVillars, and Marcus/Steve (who are actually brothers), RichTerm, BookemDano, Nekote and...and last perhaps most, the 875K readers known as anonymous. Thank you, anonymous. Here's an enjoyable blog post about EEStor for you, anonymous. Enjoy.