Wednesday, October 7, 2009

EEStor, The CEO of Lockheed & The Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman

Michigan Senator Carl Levin & Governor Jennifer Granholm with a TARDEC Official

What does Lockheed Martin officially believe about EEStor Inc.? For most people, including those who work for Lockheed Martin, the answer is elusive. At EEStor's request, Lockheed Martin stopped making public comments about the company approximately 18 months ago. While the agreement is confirmed to still be active, not much more information appears to be available. That is, unless you are Senator Carl Levin from Michigan, the chairman of the US Senate's Armed Services Committee, a committee with legislative oversight over the annual Department of Defense budget (currently well north of $500Bil/yr).

According to multiple sources including someone familiar with most Lockheed legislative affairs, Levin looked into EEStor approximately 6 months ago after a meeting with Ian Clifford, CEO of Zenn Motor Company. Levin's apparent intent was to determine whether or not Zenn's wish to locate a facility in Michigan had merit. To find out, he turned to the most logical source of information on the topic: Lockheed Martin.

If you are Lockheed Martin, a company whose 2008 revenues exceeded $42Bil (of which 85% comes from government contracts), queries from VIP's like Senator Levin are handled with the greatest care by those at the highest levels. So, when Levin made an inquiry into the viability and status of battery startup EEStor Inc. approximately 5 months ago, it was addressed to CEO Robert J. Stevens. This made the retrieval and response of appropriate information, at least briefly, a top corporate priority. According to two sources, the delivery of that information took the form of a phone conference between Levin and Stevens. However, a third source within Lockheed does not think that a phone call actually occurred. Officially, Lockheed Martin refused comment on the matter. Carl Levin's office has also declined comment.

So, what did Stevens say about EEStor to Levin on the call? Unknown. However, afterwards, Levin's office took steps to assist with the submission of an unsolicited proposal from ZMC America Inc. to the Department of Energy. Such proposals are typically submitted in cases where the government is perceived to have a potential benefit or interest in something for which there is no existing acquisition program to address the need. Success for Zenn's proposal would bring yet another electric vehicle project to Michigan, the state that has been the most severely affected by the current recession. Whatever information was relayed from Stevens to Levin, it is logical to conclude it was positive since the proposal submitted to the DOE listed Levin as one of it's backers. But just how positive?

That is a question I have been trying to answer for the past year by contacting, somewhat systematically, various entities within the US federal government, particularly in the Department of Defense. I wanted to see if one could learn anything about EEStor's viability based on what has been communicated by Lockheed or EEStor. The results suggest EEStor continues to fly under the radar yet excite those who are fortunate enough to get a briefing.

According to a government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media, EEStor's technology is "absolutely going to change the world." The source, who works for a government agency associated with national security, indicated that she has been briefed directly by EEStor in the last 12 months.

"I can't tell you exactly what I have been told that tipped it for me. I will just say that I have become a believer," the source said. Pressed for clarification about what she knows versus what she believes about EEStor, she stated that she believes EEStor will realize it's potential to change the world but she could not speak further on the more fundamental topic of confirming it actually works. However, she added, "Think of the impact of this. There's every reason in the world to be a skeptic. In fact, hey, you know, that's fine. Be a skeptic. They will either deliver product or they won't."

She added, "Dick and Tom have been incredibly closed mouth and covert in how they have done this and I think it's because they didn't have their intellectual property protected. But they've been filing patents. There's been a lot of people bullshitting this on the Internet, no doubt about it. They are past the science and exploration and are making a production line."

Finally, the source explained that the information she was sharing was neither proprietary nor classified but she could neither confirm nor deny whether or not EEStor's technology is associated with secret programs. She would not say who else in the government could provide information about EEStor.

My own research over the past year lead me to have conversations with about two dozen persons who work with batteries or capacitors for the USMC, Air Force, Army, Navy and Department of Energy. My conclusion is that EEStor is NOT widely known among this large group of people. Those who did know of them, learned of it from the Internet. In three cases, the government department I wished to speak with referred me to their public affairs offices but all three declined my request for interview.

A very strong case can be made that, at least at this point in time, Lockheed Martin & EEStor are performing almost no marketing regarding their technology. The only instance of a meeting covering EEStor technology that I could locate was between Lockheed Martin and The US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) which is headquartered in Warren, Michigan. No details were shared regarding that meeting but the source seemed to display little emotion so it's probably safe to say TARDEC is waiting just like everyone else.

Also waiting for EEStor information is a sizable number of Lockheed Martin employees who work on projects requiring energy storage. Next week, various vendors (like Maxwell) will join with Lockheed staff from all around the company in Ft. Worth to discuss various types of energy storage. Given the expense & opportunity such an event presents to Lockheed, you may wonder if attendees will be treated to an update on EEStor from Lockheed's Missiles and Fire Control business unit. The answer? No.

Finally, this article wouldn't be complete if it did not also include some tidbits of information that SEVERELY lack credibility and deserve almost no attention. (it's a blog, right?) To my knowledge (and that of a handful of other people researching EEStor like me), there exists a very small group of people within government who will acknowledge EEStor's existence but refuse any further comment. One of those people works for a secret battery testing facility. Another is a senior defense contractor whose work brings him into contact with many of the highest priority weapons programs. A third is a person who believes two generations of the EESU have been delivered to a program he supports (yes, that one seems farthest on the fringe). Nothing of substance could be generated from these random utterances. Lockheed has said if reports of a prototype were true, they wouldn't comment on it. Although at least it would match up with what Lionel Liebman stated over a year ago that Lockheed and EEStor would be working on together in the ensuing year. But, there's not enough evidence to muster a belief in it since it seems to stand in direct contradiction to information Weir shared not too long ago concerning UL testing and work underway with Polarity.