Friday, May 29, 2009

EEStor's Tom Weir Discusses Short Term Objectives

With the announcement of EEStor's permittivity certification milestone in May 2009 behind us, observers are watching closely to learn what comes next from the Cedar Park, TX company. Zenn Motor Company's VP of Engineering, Mike Bergeron added a bit of background on this topic via a recent interview with me this week. But Bergeron and Zenn are bound by their tech agreement to avoid being too verbose.

To see if I could learn more, I contacted Tom Weir at EEStor Inc. this morning. First, EEStor now has visibility to the necessary funding commitments that should allow them to meet their anticipated near-term objectives. Second, Weir says they are moving further along their path. Tom Weir:

"Our objective is to complete component testing by September 2009. In parallel, we will be finalizing our second objective which consists of the assembly processes necessary to deliver production quality components and/or EESU's by the end of 2009. "

Just what does component testing consist of exactly? To answer this question, I turned to a subject matter expert with several years experience in capacitor manufacturing who preferred not to be named for this article. ( However, I can reveal his username at forums as none other than CapacitorMan.) The standard component tests for capacitor manufacturers consist of the following:

1) Capacitance

2) Dissipation Factor

3) Insulation Resistance

4) Voltage Coefficient (measuring capacitance vs voltage)

5) Temperature Coefficient (measuring capacitance vs temperature)

6) Voltage breakdown

Capman went on to say that a piezoelectric coefficient test, though not widely performed elsewhere, would be important in EEStor's case "if they have the size capacitor they are talking about. " He went on, "a piezoelectric coefficient test would be important for them because it measures how much the ceramic moves when you shock it with a high voltage. "

As speculated previously, the pace of information coming out of EEStor Inc. appears to be on the uptick as it zeros in on the completion of the commercialization of the EESU.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Zenn Motor Company Suddenly Less Mysterious?

Is it possible that EEStor Inc. partner Zenn Motor Company could suddenly become far less mysterious....almost over night? Certainly not. But they might be able to put a few issues to bed. Muahaha!

Friday, May 22, 2009

EEStor Silences DIelectric Saturation Criticism

Due to Zenn Motor Company's recent announcement of it's validation of EEStor's recent permittivity test results, we have learned that constituent materials of EEStor's energy storage system are operating in what's known as the paralectric phase in contrast to the widely predicted ferroelectric phase.  
Dielectric Saturation was widely and emotionally delivered as the death knell to EEStor's prospects for delivering on it's claims.  But this is a phenomena that does not occur in the paraelectric phase (except possibly at extremely high voltages).  

What the hell does all of this mean?   Quite simply this: if you poll the opinions of the EEStor skeptics over the past year, the #1 leading fundamental problem they had with EEStor's claims was that it would suffer from the effects of Dielectric Saturation.   They were all wrong. All wrong

MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAAHAAHAAHAAHAAH!!!!!!  So laugh it up believers, you earned it!

What do the skeptics at have to say about this?  Strangely little.  

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Zenn Motors Announcement

Trading of Zenn stock was halted today at 11:20 pending a news release by the company. The request for halting came from the company.  They've never done that before apparently. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

EEStor Throws The Blogger a Bone

If you've been following the EEStory for any period of time, you know that for some mysterious reason, EEStor occasionally speaks with me, an anonymous blogger. Possibly, if you ask Dick Weir, he might possibly say it's because he knows that I know that any Marine who risked life and limb for the freedom of insignificant people like me is and always will be a noble sacrifice. You might say I pay my EEStor bills with respect, something very foreign to many who show EEStor disdain at their business choices. In the meantime, I am very certain that EEStor is not at all concerned or interested in educating irrelevant skeptics while they make their way along their path to commercialization. That said, occasionally the stars align and I am able to acquire a few more clues about EEStor's ongoing validation of their technology, something that appears to only be understood by persons who are not simply focused on material science but also those who understand manufacturing milestones.

In that context, I am happy to learn that EEStor's recent permittivity testing took place with a few additional data points. First, the permittivity had a loss of less than 10% across the temperatures it was tested. Secondly, the frequency of the testing was 100Hz. That much was included in the 3rd party testing. Within it's own internal tests, EEStor has shared with me that the loss value is flat from 100Hz up to 100,000Hz. If you recall past blog posts, this is data that persons from Penn State were interested in obtaining to further assess the significance of the announcement.

Ordinarily, I would provide additional commentary by way of recording some interpretations of this additional data from some SME's. But my results from very cursury attempts at this were mixed. So I felt I would simply share the information and let it speak for itself...whatever its significance may be.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Energy Information Administration

Here's a pretty good resource for Official Energy Statistics from the US Government. I may have posted this before but hey, you need it. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

W. Michael Long is still E. EEStor Long: Terralliance Press Release points to Long's EEStor board membership

Terralliance is a Kleiner Perkins investment company with technology that makes it easier to find oil and gas. It's been discussed as the odd non-green investment in the KPCB portfolio and until today, it has kept about as low of a profile as EEStor.  Back in April, VentureBeat reported that Terralliance seemed to have slippery fingers when it came to money.  

So, today, they issued a press release--apparently their first if you go by their website-- announcing even more funding is headed their way from Kleiner AND the appointment of W. Michael Long to their board of directors.  They added a link to their front page to Mike Long's Bio which includes this sentence:

Mike serves on the board of directors of Essence, which uses evidence-based medicine to effectively manage the quality and cost of healthcare for senior populations, and EEStor, which is developing the next generation of solid-state electrical energy storage units in the form of batteries and capacitors.  

Again, this is as of today, May 15, 2009.  So, let me see if I have this straight.  Long is long both on Terralliance (an oil company) and EEStor (an end to oil) and unashamed to admit it--along with the blessing from Terralliance?  I like it.

Under Long's leadership, Terralliance technology will be modified to search the earth for EESU's.   

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Imagine the EEStor Possibilities

I declare it open season on imagining the possibilities the EEStor EESU will afford the people of earth.  There is no good reason now not to start engaging in this very enjoyable practice.   So, go ahead, don't apologize. Just sit down for a moment today and ask yourself a little question, "What will life be like with the EESU?"  

When you take a break from thinking about the possibilities, take a moment to consider some of the negative realities and how we might act together

Thursday, May 7, 2009

LightEVS on Permittivity

EEStory reader taking research into his own hands:

LightEVS says they have additional voltage information regarding permittivity. Not sure if that means 1V or what. If it involved Golla, it was 1Volt. If its additional data...Golla wasn't involved.

...thats my take.

What do real SME's Say About EEStor's Permittivity Announcement?

In the course of maintaining this blog about EEStor, I've had the opportunity to talk with several experts in various fields regarding the many layers of the EEStor story. Many are apprehensive to talk at first but eventually they succomb to my charm and give me very useful information concerning patents, materials, manufacturing, start-up funding, military applications, lobbying US Senators, etc. Of all of the information I've gathered, the only real potential stumbling block is the underlying material science upon which EEStor's discovery is based. The problem--as many skeptics will point out-- is that essentially what EEStor is reporting as possible has never been reported elsewhere. Some go to the next level and say not only is not possible but it's not even being looked at. I know that this latter view is absolutely false. The inner core of the EEStory drama may one day be precisely about the many efforts underway to catch EEStor Inc. After all, the prize is so large it's unfathable.

With this latest press release, it afforded me the opportunity to touch base again with many experts in the field of material science. The material scientists are the key SME's whose opinion matters most when it comes to EEStor. Certainly there are manufacturing/mass production considerations but the properties of the materials are the most important (for many). This is probably a key reason why Zenn Motor Company has not yet provided a follow up announcement concerning it's findings. To perform their fiduciary duties, they have to subject the current results to credible 3rd party experts in such a way that validates not only the single announcement but also the relevance of the milestone on the path to commercialization. It's true, they could make a simple announcement which is short on information but they have to make plain that they understand the proof burden they are carrying as a credible player in this market. More to the point, as a public company they have to continually assess and report the true state of affairs when it comes to risks to their business. With each new piece of information that comes from EEStor, Zenn must make additional disclosures as to progress.

With regard to my own efforts to uncover 3rd party opinions, I've assembled the following. First, in the course of this round of contacts, I learned of another individual who was paid by a company to evaluate EEStor's claims 4 years ago. He is an accomplished scientist in the capacitor arena. I asked him if he advised his clients that EEStor's project was impossible. He said, no, that he simply laid out for them the multi-faceted obstacles EEStor would have to overcome to succeed, "so they could draw their own conclusion." He is a bit upset that the US patent office allowed EEStor's current patents through but didnt want to say more. And to this day, he does not think EEStor will succeed. The latest information released did not change his opinion.

Secondly, I spoke to another even more prominent scientist in the related field--someone who has plenty of experience with barium titanate. He asked that his thoughts not be attributed to him and as always I'll respect that. His initial comment on the permittivity announcement: it's still not enough information to make a solid case about what is going on. I pointed out to him that some have said that this class of materials has never been shown to have a stable temperature coefficient and that this is a good indicator for voltage coefficient. I asked if that were true. It was interesting because there was a long pause and then this, "I'd have to think about that" followed by another long pause. He went on to say it was still sketchy information and it is "not the obvious measurement one would want to make to demonstrate the claims unless they are hiding something. "

Thirdly, I spoke again with Michael Lanagan at Penn State University. His position is also unchanged in saying he is still looking for more data. I mentioned to him the temperature coefficient and he said, "if you find out what the loss values were for the test, let me know." He explained that by having the loss values, you could make a guess about the polarization mechanism, ie, to see how energy is being stored in the material. In a follow up, I asked Dr. Golla about this and he said it was not gathered by him if in fact it was measured.

Fourthly, I corresponded with Profesor of Chemistry, Joe Perry from Georgia Tech, who has made his own breakthroughs in barium titanate in the last few years and is now Director on the DARPA MORPH program. Here is what he wrote:

"I did see the EEStor announcement. The permittivity is a large number and if the value is flat across a wide temp range that would be promising. But detail is lacking to allow for conclusions to be drawn. 1 V is a low voltage and we don't know whether the hockey puck is a stack of layers or a monolith. It will be interesting to see what happens as they increase the measurement voltage and actually measure stored energy. Temperature insensitivity could be a result of being far from a phase transition or that there are a distribution of domains with different transition temperatures. I am not certain about the correlation between temp and voltage insensitivity. Bottom line is the jury is still out, there is a lot yet to be shown."

I pointed out to him that the tests were done on pressed layers and mentioned Lanagan's point on loss. And he wrote back:

"The loss would provide insight into the mechanism. From my point of view, I would like to see the polarization vs field response for a layer or a multilayer stack, a determination of the energy density, and the statistics of electric breakdown probability. Presumably, these are future milestones for EEStor."

Lastly, I had a very good conversation with who is considered by many to be one of the world's top experts working with barium titanate, Dr. Eric Cross from Penn State University.

Dr. Eric Cross Interview

Penn State

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dr. Cross is an internationally recognized authority in the field of ferroelectricity and dielectric materials. He came to the Pennsylvania State University in 1961 and became a founder of the Materials Research Laboratory. His interests lie in fundamental studies of ferroelectric oxide systems to understand the complex interplay between dielectric and elastic properties through the very strong electrostrictive coupling; modification of properties of oxygen octahedral structure ferroelectrics of complex compositions through cation ordering and aliovalent cation substitution, leading to relaxor ferroelectric behavior; practical application of the additional softening of properties in relaxors to achieve solid solution with exciting morphotropic phase boundaries and fantastic piezoelectric sensor/actuator capability; extended studies of flexoelectric behavior identifying soft mode compositions with orders of magnitude improved properties, leading to the possibility to exploit texture symmetry to achieve new lead-free, high activity piezoelectric composites; and exploration of new techniques to fabricate fine scale texture symmetries that can be assembled to provide bulk composite materials in which direct and converse piezoelectric effects can be independently controlled. I began my interview with Dr. Cross by alerting him to the new EEStor press release. I read it to him and then began asking him questions. I started by asking about permittivity and Dr. Cross repeated a few well understood concepts and that’s where the interview picks up. [Please note: this interview was conducted before EEStor updated the release to include temperature information.]

B: Do you think such a material is possible to create?

EC: Now you're asking a loaded question. [light laughter]

B: Well, I’m actually trying to unload the statements EEStor has put out there.

EC: Sure. Everybody is worried by them I think because the explanations they are, shall I say, iffy in the extreme. But this is not to say that what they have achieved is lying. With ceramic materials, one has to be a little careful because they are complex systems. There is interest in this area.

B: Interest in the area enough to pursue barium titanate as energy storage device material?

EC: Not BT per se but systems which use BT as one part of the system. And I won't go any further than that.

B: But the application is for energy storage?

EC: Yes, that's right. The potential application is for energy storage.

B: With densities of lead acid, lithium ion or what?

EC: I can't really talk further on it because I am under boundary conditions. I think they [EEStor] have activated an interest in this. I wish they would not try to make naive explanations for what is a complex phenomenon. The explanations they give are outrageous.

B: You are saying EEStor has activated an area of interest.

EC: That's right.

B Dr. Ducharme from University of Nebraska-Lincoln told me recently that many researchers are looking for high permittivity/high field materials. They are mixing materials like barium titanate with polymers.

EC: Polymers have remarkably high breakdown strength and unfortunately poor permittivity’s. This is where one of my colleagues, Prof Shujun Zhang, has done a remarkable job of making polymers by making them into relaxors. Again, at the expense of the polymer becoming a non-linear dielectric.

B: So your view is EEStor is possibly on to something but the information they have released is not a good body of evidence from which to draw any conclusions.

EC: I would go along with that yes. I think they have something interesting and they may not know that they have a tiger by the tail.

B: Meaning that the complexity may lie ahead for what they are working on?

EC: I think that's true. One needs to understand in detail what one is doing. This is an area of extreme interest at the moment. I can't say more about it.

B: It's of extreme interest just because of the applications, right? Not because there's some sort of breakthrough? I do not understand.

EC: I think these people are scientists and I think they have made an interesting discovery but their explanations of what they have discovered are not reasonable...which is not to say that what they have discovered is not itself reasonable. That I won’t say any more about it.

B: OK, Thanks you so much for your time.

EC: You're welcome. It is an interesting area.

B: Yes, maybe I could check back in with you as further developments arise?

EC: Sure.


When EEStor released the temperature data along with the permittivity, I called Dr. Cross back. His response to the temperature vs permittivity data: "I'm very surprised." It occurred to me to ask him if he could say anything about who may be conducting research in this area, ie, of an EEStor approach to energy storage....was it venture capitalists, academic researchers, governments, who? His response: "All of the above."

All in all, an interesting survey leading to a few interesting conclusions of course. Question for the avid EEStory reader: which organization do you think Kleiner Perkins turned to, to evaluate EEStor from a material science point of view? :-)
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