Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jan 2009: Lockheed Martin says EEStor "could be a true game-changing technology"

Lockheed Martin's New Year's celebration can safely be brought to a close now that it's monthly employee newsletter has been made available to the public on it's website and which appears to offer new information concerning it's recent EEStor EESU patent application.

In the January 2009 edition, an article discusses the work of the Power Management Team within the LM Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) business unit. This is the same group that entered the DoD Wearable Power Competition this past summer and which staffs the two individuals whose patent application highlights EEStor EESU technology, namely, David Helsscher and Toby Thomas.

Before jumping to the energizing EEStor mention, note that in this article, program manager Mike Wilhem makes it clear that in the recent Wearable Power competition, the Lockheed entry "was judged to have the highest energy density" with "a much lighter package than anybody else." According to the article, that entry included lithium ion batteries with a fuel cell and has generated interest from all corners of the Department of Defense including Office of Naval Research, Air Force Research Lab, DARPA and a few other groups.

What does Wilhelm think of EEStor technology? He "believes [it] could be a true game-changing technology in the power management field." If you take this statement as a firm belief and then read the article, it fairly raises several interesting questions about Lockheed's apparently emerging intentions with EEStor technology.

In addition to the wearable power, Lockheed mentions and has a photo of BattPack, which appears to be a giant camouflaged battery. One wonders if the following description offered on the BattPack applies well to lithium ion technology or solely to EEStor's energy densities:

"[It] is designed to remove the obligation of auxilary power-generation off of military vehicles in the field. Instead of having to burn vehicle fuel--and create a lot of noise--to generate electricity for communication and mission operations centers, battlefield units can use BattPack which delivers up to 12 hours of power, depending on the mission. "

What if you need more than 12 hours? "Multiple BattPacks can be linked together in a scalable central energy storage unit that MFC is calling BladeBatt." Question for the reader: is anyone out there aware of solutions which link multiple lithium ion batteries together for a larger total output?

So we now have 3 possible product destinations for Lockheed's EEStor goals: BattJacket, BattPack, & BladeBatt.

But if Lockheed thinks they can reduce fuel requirements for warfighters in the field, from where do they think the energy will come? Renewable energy sources. In fact, Lockheed is developing a min-grid lab to better understand and design "generator loads and usage rates" so that they can better incorporate intermittent sources of energy like solar and wind. They call this "micro-grid management."

In probably what is the most intriguing sentence in the article, Lockheed says that the wearable power vest is "able to operate 90 hours" and weighs "just three pounds." It is supposed to replace "16 to 20 pounds of batteries." Is it advertising a 7X improvement of one set of lithium ion batteries over another set of lithium ion batteries? Is it saying that it's new lithium ion batteries are 7X more dense than traditional batteries? Or is it simply re-echoing energy densities even beyond what EEStor has cited as possible with it's technology? At the time of original publication of this article, Lockheed had not returned my calls.

To learn more about EEStor and discuss this topic, visit TheEEStory.com. A new thread has been started there.

Image Source:
Lockheed Martin Today. See original URL.