Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm on Batteries

How vital is the electrification of vehicles to a state like Michigan? What steps are being taken to ensure Michigan seizes the American automobile battery marketplace? Will lithium ion be the battery of choice for electric vehicles? These are questions Jennifer Granholm's administration is currently grappling with to do it's part to lead Michigan back from the brink of disaster to the forefront of automotive excellence. In a Newsweek article, Michigan Governor Granholm lays out her vision for how electric technologies will be harnessed to create opportunities in Michigan.

One question followers of EEStor Inc., may be curious about is what will happen to all of the private and government investment in lithium ion based technologies, once EEStor achieves it's immediate goal of completing it's EESU production capacity??? If you're Ian Clifford at Zenn Motor Company, how does conversation with the Governor go? Stay tuned...you may find out...

Image Source: Governor Jennifer Granholm via Flikr. Yes, that's Senator Carl Levin pictured therein.

Monday, March 30, 2009

James Woolsey meets EEStor Blogger

Late last night, under the cover of a dark persistent fog hanging over Washington Dulles Airport, Mr. James Woolsey, advocate for electric vehicles and for a reduction of dependence on foreign oil, bumped into the EEStor blogger. Woolsey was debriefed of his EEStor knowledge (he's heard the name multiple times recently but hasn't researched it much) and informed that he had just met and talked with the EEStor blogger, which brought a familiar chuckle....the sort of chuckle that originates typically with persons who ALREADY know about EEStor ...often via the EEStor blogger. :-) EEStorians will note Woolsey's employment by John McCain as an energy advisor in the 2008 US Presidential election campaign. Did Woolsey come up with the $300Mil battery prize idea? The EEStor blogger does not know as he was not invited to share Mr. Woolsey's limousine unfortunately. After being thanked for his advocacy for energy independence, Woolsey's parting words were, "I drive a hybrid!" Response: "Soon, you'll go all electric!" <-limo tires screech a hurried exit->

Image source: The Unsung Heroes at the US Central Intelligence Agency: America's first line of defense!

Update: Mr. Woolsey was in DC to attend a National Academy of Sciences conference called America's Climate Choices.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Will Own Zenn Motor Company after EEStor Reveals?

EEStor license holder Zenn Motor Company is a very small Canadian company.  After EEStor places proof of their technology's capabilities on the table, the value of Zenn may skyrocket.  In fairness, we may never get to that point if EEStor fails to deliver (I'm pretty certain they will though).   Since the Zenn's Annual General Meeting is this evening, I thought I would invoke a discussion on a topic of interest to the EEStor blogger!!

Discuss this here:

Geography of a Recession

The New York Times has released an interesting map showing where in the USA the recession is hitting the hardest. It's interesting to ask which Members of Congress may be under higher levels of constituency pressure to provide leadership through these days....pressure that might be alleviated gradually with break throughs like EEStor's EESU which bring not only economic benefits but hope.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wired Article on Energy Needs of the Nation

Wired released a 4 part story today covering the grid, batteries, transmission and lots of related things. I first learned about EEStor from a wired article so I'm a follower of their news. What do I think of this series of articles of theirs? The energy storage piece is not too deep, sorry Vince Beiser. The only super batteries worth mentioning are EEStor EESU's. :-)

Friday, March 20, 2009

DOE Releases Funding Announcement

The Department of Energy Released two Funding Announcements today which could be targeted by EEStor and it's partners. The first is a Electric Drive announcement and the second is a Battery manufacturing announcement. The total amount of funding available is $1.475 Billion.

Essentially, the DOE is providing grant funds to companies who apply and have projects deemed worthy of funding. The application would require the delivery of 50 cells manufactured using the materials described in an application to the DOE for inspection.

If EEStor pursues this funding, it will require them to reveal publicly where they stand with regard to their manufacturing capability because all applications for battery manufacturing have to include 50 cells to be submitted to the DOE for testing/inspection. ;-) To the tin hats out there, it looks like we certainly may have stumbled upon a very good reason for EEStor delaying it's prototype announcement....because doing so may have jeopardized both the amount of funding Congress has put forward here and EEStor's ability to compete for it!

If you wish to read the requirements for receiving the funds, please visit TheEEStory.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

United States Department of Energy Confirms Sandia Labs Held Talks with EEStor Regarding Prototype Testing

Imre Gyuk Dr. Imre Gyuk of the US Department of Energy confirmed today that Sandia National Labs (A Lockheed Martin operated national security lab) held talks with EEStor Inc in the Fall of 2008 regarding the possibility of testing EEStor prototypes. Gyuk is the Program Manager for Energy Storage Research at the DOE which sponsors a team of researchers at SNL focused on distributed energy storage and reliability.

"Our team at Sandia had some initial conversations with EEStor in the fall regarding the possibility of testing prototypes. Communications on that topic has not occurred for a while though."

Gyuk invited me to learn more by discussing the topic with his lead manager at Sandia, John Boyce, who could not be reached today due to travel. What does Gyuk think of EEStor's claims? He preferred not to discuss specifics about particular companies although he would say that he's had 3 or 4 companies that he is aware of making some big claims regarding ultracapacitor based energy storage. He prefers to let the data answer the important questions.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Members of Congress Take Stab at EEStor Doubts

Beware the ides of March.

In the past year, Members of Congress from Texas have contacted Department of Energy personnel to raise EEStor's profile in the race for DOE funding of advanced battery initiatives. This revelation originates from personnel at a national security laboratory who spoke on the condition of not naming the lab in question. The lab is one of the most prominent in the United States and its sponsors include the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy. A program within this lab is sponsored by the DOE to organize demonstration projects for alternative energy projects including storage.

According to the lab official, "EEStor has a lot of political connections. They made a lot of waves. That's how we got involved. Xtreme Power is another one. They're both Texas companies. They went to congress & have the ear of a number of congressmen. It's a big state and the President was from Texas, so they got their voice heard. " The official went on to say that efforts like this which originate in Congress are always related to positioning a company for possible funding. When asked how the official learned of this EEStor effort, he said, "Well, by the number of waves that are made in Congress and the DOE. I get a phone call from our DOE manager and I'm told I need to support these folks." That phone call occurred in Sept/Oct 2008. The official went on to marvel that such a small company could garner that much attention given that many large companies with established lobbying efforts often fail to push the right buttons.

Independently of this Congress-lead constituency effort on behalf of EEStor, other officials in the lab were already aware of EEStor and had actually independently reached out to Zenn Motor Company approximately a year ago to inquire about the possibility of being a third party tester of EESU's. Michael Bergeron, Vice President of Engineering at Zenn Motor Company was the recipient of that inquiry from the lab. According to lab personnel, an initial conversation was held to establish the lab's suitability to provide a 3rd party opinion on the technology. Zenn was not ready to proceed. Six months elapsed and somewhere in the Sept/October 2008 time frame, Bergeron contacted the lab to investigate moving forward with the plan. As a result of those discussions, the lab identified experts in batteries and ceramic capacitors to be involved with what was to be described as "an inspection." The lab forwarded to Bergeron a NDA but after that conversations ceased. The lab official said he left two voice messages that were never returned and he never learned what happened to the project. To be clear, in this instance, the lab made the first contact with Zenn Motor Company because they had heard of the "super battery made by EEStor" and were interested in getting involved. Around the same time that Bergeron restarted those discussions, the Department of Energy sponsors were also calling this lab to get them ready to respond.

Zenn Motor Company declined to comment on this story.

So who were the Senators or Representatives acting on behalf of EEStor? It's not known yet despite efforts late Friday to contact officials from both groups. Depending on what exactly transpired, it could represent the first trackable actions of members of the US government with regard to EEStor Inc., and those responsible could later be rewarded politically for what may be either regarded as courageous effort or a complete no-brainer depending on the level of awareness of those involved. (The EEStor blogger always assumes esteemed Members of Congress from Texas are very very educated and able to provide excellent leadership in such matters .) Although representatives from Texas often receive campaign funding from large oil companies, there is a solid record of supporting alternative energy efforts. And if you've followed the EEStor rumor mill, you know that it's been said that Colin Powell has been briefed twice at EEStor's facilities and that he delivered some of that information directly to President Bush. In addition to not being reliably validated, it's not know what, if any actions followed on the part of Powell or Bush. All of these rumors have the potential of being further discovered via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filings. That is, unless key aspects of EEStor's development are currently classified by the Department of Defense or some other agency. What reasons are there to put stock in that possibility?

One reason to believe certain aspects of EEStor's technology may be under wraps is based on an analysis of EEStor's patent filings. In January of 2007, EEStor announced that 12 patents were in process. A year later, it announced that 17 patents were in process. To date, EEStor's USPTO filings include 2 patents, 3 filings that have been published and 2 filings that have not published (but are observable via patent continuity data) for a total of 7 filings. What's unusual across the board about EEStor's filings is the gap between Filing dates and Publishing dates. A statutory mandate from 1999, forced the Patent & Trademark Office to begin, as a rule, to publish patents 18 months after filing date or earlier if the examiner could learn of a mention or use of the invention in public before that time. Only three of EEStor's filings have published in the 18 month time frame. Three others were published between 2.5 and 3 years later. If you go by the 12 patents EEStor claimed in Jan 07, then 5 additional patents are completely missing and passed the 18month cutoff. If you go by the 17 patents mentioned in 2008, we are still 3 months away from the 18 month rule on those.

Inventors can request that patents not be published for an extended period but only if they do not file a foreign patent. EEStor did apply for this provision on their first patent but 2 wks later rescinded it because of foreign patent filings. So, what else prevents a patent from publishing? A government secrecy order.

All patents go through a review process after filing that enables government agencies such as the Department of Defense or Department of Energy to review whether or not the invention has national security implications. (Examples include things like jet propulsion advancements, submarine detection capabilities, or cryptographic advances. ) In 1971, a comprehensive list of the types of inventions various agencies wanted to review in particular was published. Within it, you will notice that batteries are specifically of interest to the DoD.

If these Members of Congress from Texas are still advancing EEStor's cause, here is their prime target: a Department of Energy Grant which is to be announced this month. To be eligible, a company has to be listed in this database. If you search by EEStor or Zenn Motor you will find that both are listed and thus eligible. Furthermore, EEStor is listed as an "A5 - Veteran Owned Business" which will help being awarded certain grants. EEStor also has a Small Business Profile (SBA) which will also help in the awarding and winning of contracts (and is interesting in itself since the section on exporting is left blank). Finally, from Dunn & Brad Street: "On March 18, 2008, Thomas Weir, V Pres, confirmed company name, address, principals and operational information using Dun & Bradstreet's Internet-based update method (eUpdate) at www.dnb.com. "

To discuss this new EEStor revelation with other impassioned EEStor followers, visit TheEEStory.com.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Beware the ides of March

Soothsayer: Caesar!
Caesar: Ha! Who calls?
Casca: Bid every noise be still; peace yet again!
Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me? I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music, Cry "Casear." Speak; Caesar is turned to hear.

Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.

Caesar: What man is that?

Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
Caesar: Set him before me; let me see his face.
Cassius: Fellow, come from the throng; look up on Caesar.
Caesar: What say'st thous to me now? Speak once again.

Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.

Caesar: He is a dreamer, let us leave him. Pass.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

EEStor NASA Countdown 10....9.....8.....7.....8....9....10. Houston We Have a Problem!

Did yesterday's NASA story send you into an orbit from which you wish you could never leave? Did the TRL values assigned to EEStor's technology maturity provide you with a tiny multi colored ray of hope? Was your EEStor happiness running full steam ahead? Well, you better sit down because we need to discuss something.

I reached the author of the trade study via phone yesterday, ie, Dr. Cheng-Yi Lu. He was a very nice fellow but it's a funny thing about that trade study, you see. Where to begin....hhhmmmm. Ok, first, the source of Dr. Lu's information was.....Zenn Motor Company's website along with the Lockheed Martin press release from last year. That's where he obtained EEStor specs. Second, he never spoke to EEStor to gather updated information or share any information with them about his endevour. (hence some of the older specs) Lastly, that funny little TRL value? Based purely on the information gathered above and applied by Dr. Lu to the TRL metric system. Any questions? :-)

Feeling sorry for yourself? You need more EEStor news? Ok, here's a tidbit. There were some updates to the patent applications this month. Talking now about the USPTO patent applications. I haven't had time to go through them but if you click on the Image wrapper, you'll see the updates.

Monday, March 9, 2009

EEStor Mentioned in NASA Funded Trade Study

Five years ago, President Bush laid out his vision for space exploration which would include a return to the moon by 2020 "with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods of time. In April 2006 NASA announced it would take up the challenge. It then spent the next 2 years "studying the various functional needs and technical challenges inherent in exploration of the Lunar Surface. In May of 2008, NASA had narrowed down a range of areas where it needed additional, more detailed study. It announced this via a Broad Agency Announcement in June 2008. Several areas of interest were identified for contracted further study. One area of interest was the need for power to be generated/stored especially at night. A trade study was contracted out to a longtime NASA and aerospace contractor, Hamilton Sundstrand to identify power beaming/energy storage technologies worthy of attention and/or incorporation into NASA's lunar mission plans.

During the last week of February 2009, a workshop was held to give various participants the opportunity to present their findings. Hamilton Sundstrand's work on power beam/energy storage was presented by Dr. Cheng-Yi Lu and Jim McClanahan. Their conclusion was that NASA should pursue a Regenerative Fuel Cell with cryogenic storage technology for surface energy storage. To arrive at this conclusion, Lu and McClanahan looked at a select few storage options (Li-Ion batteries, Flywheel, Li-Polymer, Thin Film Li-S batteries) and of course, EEStor Inc.

A key goal was to identify technologies which would achieve a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 6 by the 2015-2018 timeframe. TRL's "are a systematic metric/measurement system that supports assessments of the maturity of a particular technology and the consistent comparison of maturity between different types of technology. " EEStor's EESU technology was considered among Lu and McClanahan's surface energy storage technologies and judged to be at a TRL of 5. At this level of development, "the basic technological elements must be integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements so that the total applications (component-level, sub-system level, or system-level) can be tested in a ‘simulated’ or somewhat realistic environment." How do you get to a TRL of 6? The technology should be tested in Space.

This contracted trade study conducted by Hamilton Sundstrand for NASA raises a few interesting questions concerning EEStor. Did the researchers have access to EEStor data to assess their TRL? If not, what forms the basis for their conclusion that EEStor has achieved a level of testing equal to the requirements of a TRL of 5? Did EEStor share this information with Hamilton Sundstrand?

If Hamilton Sundstrand is aware of 3rd party test data upon which their conclusion is based, then it seems very reasonable to assume that EEStor has achieved the Zenn Motor Company permittivity milestone. Correct, ZMC? Prototypes imply permittivity.

Special thanks to TheEEStory.com user Jay for finding the NASA preso.

Friday, March 6, 2009

EEStor To Battle Combination of Japan & Europe

Previously, I mentioned former Intel chairman Andy Grove's interests in seeing Intel produce batteries for vehicles, which would be quite a competitor for EEStor Inc. (if they had any technology worth mass producing) Today, Bloomberg is reporting that Dick Weir may have an even bigger entity to contend with: ALL OF JAPAN AND EUROPE!!

Officials from both entities are in discussions to jointly develop advanced solar cells and batteries.
If the discussions go well, the new team would join the US Govt backed battery industry in tackling the breakthrough capabilities touted by EEStor.

Who else will challenge EEStor's technological dominance of electrical energy storage? EEStor Investor Kleiner Perkins. Time for a new running tally of EEStor competitors:

1) Big Oil
2) Lithium Ion Market . More.
3) Intel and other would be players
4) The US Govt's DoE. More.
5) Japan and Europe. Or Just Japan.
6) Warren Buffett
7) Autoweek
8) T. Boone Pickens. (natural gas vs batteries)
9) GM & Ford, Etc.
10) The EEStor Blogger

That's right, I've become EEStor's smallest competitor due to this declaration of entering the advanced battery development space. I've discovered a way to store energy using salt water, sand (or dirt), and wind. (i purposely excluded fire due to it's being out of fashion lately) I will be filing for stimulus funds to build out my production capacity shortly. Stay tuned.