Friday, February 19, 2010

Feb 19, 2010 Dick Weir EEStor Interview: EESU is "inna de bag, mon."

Many have wondered why I haven't posted an interview with EEStor's Dick Weir in quite some time. Well, today, I think I can finally shed some light on that issue. As it turns out, EEStor has been in agreement with having another interview for a long time. However, I have been unwilling to agree with their one condition. But, in light of the fact that so many people want to know what is going on now, I decided to bite the bullet and I agreed to their conditional offer in order to get the interview.

In this interview with EEStor founder Dick Weir, I was able to ask any question I wanted. No holds barred. However, the answers provided by Mr. Weir would be---and this is the condition---would be expressed only via a Jamaican dialect.

B: Dick, it's good to be speaking with you again. It's been a long time and this format you've required should probably be addressed from the outside. So, why the Jamaican manner of speaking today?

DW: Dat a mi brudda. Jamaican mon, mi luv a Jamaica, mon. Mi did de day a mi own in Jamaica, mon.

B: I see. Ok. If it's your preference. First question, can you please provide an update on the status of EEStor's commercialization effort?

DW: Da tists a go a home rrreeeun mi brudda. Dis lef nuttin but da prahducks ah rah bots a crunkin Lawd 'ave mercy pan mi bones. Someting a see, mon. Nuh dun yet. Buh di for di tree tousand jooles cc, mon.

[Longish pause]

B: Ahem. Go on.

DW: De nex one mi brudda.

B: Oh, ok. So, when might we hear some sort of announcement from EEStor?

DW: Mi a go bak a wuk pan Chewsday a may pan de Fraday a fe da patans a nite. Nuh di inna buks inna woryd ga dat. Nuh di profs a me fambly. Galang bout mi business inna de bik mi brudda. Aright? Put dis all inna de bag. Inna de bag, mon.

B: That's great news. It must feel really good to be where you are and on the cusp of doing some really important and great things. But, your choice to maintain such a low profile has lead to many vocal critics saying quite a few nasty things such as that you're incompetent and worse, that you've orchestrated everything as part of a scam. What do you say to those skeptics out there who believe this today?

DW: Smaddy tell me sey did a chat bout mi. De bwoy a de biggest liad. Mi wud radda yu nuh chat a mi. Yu see? Dis a skeps tahs uh pan a mango tree, mi brudda. I'm jook mi inna mi yeye. Yu ave an idea.

B: Understood. How is Carl Nelson getting along?

DW: Carl is mi brudda fra ah nudda mudda. Jus lika brudda inna mi haht. No bodda bawl Carl soon cum bak.

B: Tell him we wish him all the best. Moving on now, would you be able to say a few words about your work with Lockheed Martin?

DW: Coodeh, yuh see de big bud eena de sky ah mi Lawd 'ave Mercy. Lockheed mek up thim mind arredy bout de awl of de midda east. Jesum Peeze, a cyan bleve dat wi lose de contree. So dah mista Stevens issa wan big mon. Ya wa see but kept de sinting inna de bag. Butta goooda di questyon, mon.

B: What about Kleiner Perkins, how do they feel these days?

DW: Len out de money an no troubles. Happy like du buds in da tree, mon, smokin de ganga wit mi brudda Carl. But mi brudda carl mak eh mi call dis da "Cannabis" da CAN AAHH BIS. [said slowly and emphatically] De Jon Doerr mak eh Carl call dis de Midical Manywanna a goin green. Oh brudda. [laughing... then a pause as if Weir is taking a drink. A large beer possibly. ]

B: I definitely believe that. And as for your other partner, Zenn Motor Company. Do you have any thoughts on when they might receive their first pre-production unit?

DW: I be tellin a Ian a lang time mi dey inna dis close anna no cigah. Buttta mi askin fa du big jesu a tree days now inna mango tree. Das it. Na bye ti de next time mi rohbatd de callin mi. Bye mon.

[phone hangs up abruptly.]

This interview took place today via phone with Dick Weir at his production facility in Cedar Park, TX

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kleiner's EEStor SMEs? Penn State. Hello?

One of the more interesting aspects of following the EEStor story is the belief among numerous reputable individuals that what EEStor has claimed to do is impossible. Skeptics say there are no known materials, in the capacitor realm, that can store between 10 and 20 thousand Joules/cc (EEStor's proposed energy density) due to phenomena known as saturation & breakdown respectively. While most academics are cautious about saying something is impossible, some are confident enough with regard to EEStor to say it will never happen.

What seems to be a unanimous opinion among those skilled in the art of capacitor materials is that the mechanism EEStor is exploiting to gain incredible energy density can not be a simple dipole system because the ion would be stretched outside the unit cell. (gross oversimplification: the toothpick can only be bent so far before it breaks...yielding toothpick.... pieces). But the data and presentation of EEStor's program as found in it's patents seem to suggest a simple dipole system is in use.

The question that arises, however, is how could Kleiner Perkins' Bill Joy, John Doerr & John Denniston (all of whom have been active in the EEStor project) invest A N Y T H I N G in a project like EEStor's? What sort of shoddy due diligence lead Kleiner Perkins to part with at least $3Mil of their clients' money (especially since much of that money comes from endowment funds from competent universities like MIT)? Well, fair reader, let me tell you.

According to numerous sources, Kleiner Perkins hired none other than THE pre-eminent US University in the field of material science, ie, Penn State University to evaluate EEStor's claims. The verdict of the hired guns Dr. Tom Shrout and Dr. Joe Dougherty? N O T I M P O S S I B L E (You hear that John Miller?). ...which you should quickly note is about 18,000 kilometers away from "likely to work." This verdict seems to imply Penn State was not provided with prototypes but rather only data. Sources close to these researchers point out that Shrout & Dougherty, although under strict NDA with Kleiner & EEStor, will comment mostly in the negative concerning EEStor's chance for success.

It was in this atmosphere, a few years ago that Professor Clive Randall gave a presentation (at least twice) on several hyped technologies including EEStor's. The simple thrust of that presentation was that EEStor positions their technology as exploiting a simple dipole system which the physics show cannot produce enough energy density to support their claims. Case closed, right?

It was closed for all of the academics at Penn State until a funny thing happened about 16 months ago. One of the leading material researchers was approached by a mystery VC company who wanted to know all over again if there just might be an EEStor mechanism capable of providing the energy density that's been claimed. "Absolutely impossible" was the written reply "on the basis of a simple calculation." The mystery VC company then sent a representative to discuss with researchers "some additional information." [Note: this information couldn't be found in an academic journal or spoken about at some academic conference].

The result of that meeting lead at least two prominent & senior Penn State researchers to an amazing discovery: it seems "sometimes a leopard can change its spots." But have ALL of the leopards changed their spots? No. This is primarily because even among a seemingly tight nit group like the PSU Materials Research Institute not all information is shared among colleagues. Although some researchers pretend not to know that Shrout and Dougherty were in possession of proprietary EEStor data, others genuinely did not know it due to what appears to be true professional discretion. But this discretion works in the opposite direction as well making what you are reading a possible source of enlightenment for persons who have been working at PSU for years.

A theory that a mechanism exists which can store more than 20,000J/cc is afoot at Penn State. But it cannot be talked about. Actually, it can be talked about but the talkers can't be named although if you read this blog, you would be in a proper position to form a theory.

So, what happens next? In the ordinary course of things, you might one day find an academic journal article spelling out the details of the mechanism in question. But in this one tiny special case, due to the ownership intention of the mystery VC company, you will not learn about it until a patent is published. ...or until you continue reading this blog, which ever comes first. (Muahaha)

I want to state emphatically that the VC company is in no way tied to any traditional capacitor or supercapacitor one further reason to wonder how such an entity could stumble upon SOMETHING that causes Penn State leopard spots to change.

What can be said about this theory under analysis at PSU? First, the researchers have already demonstrated to their own satisfaction that some mechanisms exist which cannot be explained with simple ferroelectric models. Data has been collected in support of the theory. The mechanisms do not seem to be captured by the traditional definitions of capacitors OR batteries but some sort of hybrid in between both. The possible energy density is enormous.

For purposes of continuity, it should be re-echoed here that there are other ties between EEStor and Penn State. First, EEStor's Carl Nelson was a colleague of deceased & long time PSU researcher Bob Newnham, having taught him how to drive a car actually. Secondly, EEStor's patents reference work done by a Dupont researcher named Ian Burn. Burn is currently working under the umbrella of the Center for Dielectric Studies and has told me that he actually spoke to Dick Weir a couple years ago regarding the patents and stories that were emerging. According to Burn, Weir was not amenable to dialogue.

Another interesting tie between EEStor and Penn State comes via a mutual benefactor of sorts, WS Investments, which is the investment fund of law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. The fund is managed by Mario Rosati and according to it includes an investment in May 2008 with Strategic Polymer Sciences. SPS Inc. is a startup company focused on high energy density capacitors among other things and consists of many former and current Penn State researchers. Yes, an EEStor competitor. Where is Rosati's head in all of this? Law School. Check out the course he's teaching this semester at Berkely. (MUhahah)

So, what does it all add up to? What are we left with here? Well, as per usual, for you fair reader, you have a new set of tea leaves...familiar territory, right?

Discuss this and more at

Note: for my next trick, I will attempt to pull a rabbit out of a DoD battery testing hat. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

TheEEStory Mini-Me Story

I am occasionally exposed to EESt0r-Like projects which to greater and lessor degrees offer elements of the EEStor story. Alert citizens bring these to my attention. And they should because this blog is AT LEAST the center of the universe when it comes to the fringe of the mainstream energy storage race. :-) Ok, fine, center of the fringe universe. For now maybe.
But hide and watch, mon frere. In any case, for my own perverse amusement, I'd like to share with you a recent mini-EEStor-like tale that was shared with me by a very dear EEStor researcher.

Several months ago, the top researchers within the energy division of General Electric (which incidently has an EEStor NDA in effect) , sat down with a couple of virtual nobodies in the energy storage world. The first was an accomplished chemist and the other, a medical Doctor with a passion for theoretical physics. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a new energy storage technology that took 20yrs to develop. The key claims were of a material with enormous permittivity 80,000-200,000K with the ability to withstand voltages of 5Mil volts. Not a typo. As was discussed at length, the math underlying the device in question was sound, as the GE researchers began to admit in the meeting. However, guess what was missing? Right. Prototypes. Why? Funny thing happened the first time they tried to build a prototype. Due to a massive explosion, it almost killed someone and thus, the researchers changed their development plans from a demonstration to a journal article (being written now and seeking publication in the next few months). After that, a pitch will be developed entreating the DOE labs at Argonne or Livermore to help to build a prototype. After all, who else has the ability to work with several hundred thousand volts or especially, a few million volts? Fortunately for the presenters of this new technology, Dr. Branimir Horvat & Bozidar Stipanovic, their idea has at least one granted patent. What's the secret sauce? According to the patent holders, the mechanism appears in their material when cryogenically cooled. So, move over Molten Salt Battery. There may be something much cooler than you!

What do these researchers think of EEStor, you may ask? They think EEStor has captured a tiny fraction of the energy storage potential. And what does EEStor think of projects like this? No tested prototypes. ;-)

When I learned of this mini-EEStor-like project, the elements coming together started to remind me of a little fairy that visited TheEEStory a few times. It's difficult not to overlay the Yoda EEstor myth onto the facts surrounding Horvat & Stipanovic but some of the facts do not mate.

Monday, February 8, 2010

EEStor Competitor A123 Systems Asks Uncle Sam for $1Bil

According to a FOIA release from the US Department of Energy, battery manufacturer-in-the-making, A123 Systems (a company whose founder once tried to replicate an EEStor EESU) has applied for $1Bil in loans as part of the 2007 Energy Independence & Security Act. The list of applications for the Department of Energy program is a who's who & who's new of automotive technology including the big 3, Ford ($11 Bil request), Chrysler ($8.5 Bil request) and GM ($11.8 Bil request).

Notably present are previously discussed application listings (with amounts included) from Kleiner Perkins investments Fisker Automotive, V-Vehicle, & Th!nk North America. The combined request of these entities likely exceeds $1Bil making Kleiner one of the largest enthusiasts of using government funding for risky start-up ventures. Kleiner Perkins has
investments in 2 stealth battery companies and EEStor Inc., the pre-eminent stealth energy storage manufacturer in the world. It is interesting to note that the funds Fisker apparently applied for were smaller than those they received.

I've written before about the close ties Kleiner Perkins has to the Obama administration including John Doerr's role on the Obama Economic Recovery Board. Needless to say, the close collaboration and gobs of cash and loans ending up under Kleiner's control should be a cause for concern especially with the publicly unresolved issue of EEStor Inc. floating around in the background.

Some of the disclosure documents were redacted based on FOIA exemption 5 USC 552(b) (4) which exempts from disclosure "trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential." Kleiner Perkins investment Think North America chose this option.

FOIA Request Courtesy of EEStor Mad Man, RT!