Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Going into production: Part 3 Interview with Richard Weir

Part of the reason that it's difficult to appreciate the magnitude of what EEStor is working on is because everyone tends to think of our current climate being one where we have an energy problem....full stop. High demand + low supply = high energy prices....high food costs, etc etc. But, what if to move forward, we have to set aside that problem definition and start over by recognizing what is extremely apparent to seemingly only a few: our problem isn't energy sources/supplies, but rather energy storage. Think about it for a minute. You could hop in your SUV and drive it from LA to NYC on one tank of gas if only your gas tank were the size of a bus. Very inefficient but very possible. Yet, none of us ever stops to think that what is swishing around in our tanks today was once 8000 miles away buried under 8 miles of sand. Isn't it the same though and is that really what we want powering us around our way?

Enter EEStor. Solar, wind, wave and all of the other ways of acquiring energy may now finally become viable alternatives due to the one thing so many were overlooking for so long: storage is the problem more so than supply. These ideas were introduced and made clearer for me by Ian Clifford in an interview I will post soon. For now, this isn't going to sink in right away so let's come back to this and pick up where we left off with installment 3 of my interview with Richard Weir, CEO and President of EEStor. (an installment that was delayed by nothing less than 3 days of storm induced power outage at my Washington, DC area home---inside the beltway no less--we really need these ultracapacitors, don't we? )

Proof. That's what everyone--skeptics, competitors, would be consumers-- is waiting for from EEStor. Weir says that they anticipate they'll be in production in early 2009 But, when you talk to him, you notice that despite what he is saying which is essentially "be patient, we will release information when it's the proper time to do so," he is anxious to tell you what's going on. He talks quickly and the words run together so that you're sometimes hearing concepts and not sentences all delivered with a measured giddiness that is clearly detectable. At the end of my interview, just as the tones of our voices were signifying that this interview is coming to an end real soon, I asked for one more question and Weir responded, "I already gave you a ton of information!" and then he chuckled a bit. I asked if I could contact him again if I had follow up questions and again laughing, emphatic "Nope!" but then as if not to offend he says, "thanks for the interest, we'll have some information out soon."

What he is referring to is the permitivity testing being performed by a third party lab. It literally could come out any day now. Success here means, among other things, that EEStor will receive additional investment from Ian Clifford at Zenn Motors. Weir is going to need it because his biggest competitor is Maxwell, a firm with offices in San Diego, CA, Switzerland and China. They would appear to already have a big lead on EEStor in terms of commercialization of IP but for Weir, the comparison is bothersome and his response was probably his only unmeasured statement. I asked him if Maxwell was his biggest competitor and he stated, "how can they be a competitor when their cost is $13,000 per kWH?"

"And you guys beat that pretty well," I asked. "We're under lithium ion which is around $350 to $850 depending on where you're buying it from. " You hear that Maxwell? I'm reaching out to you now for a rebuttal.

He ended the interview by saying, "We'll put out another news release here soon. And that will pretty well define the direction and successes we've had to date and what we're happy about."

What we're happy about as followers of this company is that someone is working on something revolutionary and as garnered enough interest to capture the imagination.