Monday, September 6, 2010

EEStor Teases Government Agencies With Invitation To Technology Demonstration

According to emails obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), on July 8 of this year, a long time researcher working within the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, NM got a call from EEStor's CEO Dick Weir.  According to the email,  Weir was calling to invite him to a demonstration of EEStor technology to take place at EEStor's facilities in Cedar Park, TX. The date of the demonstration was not revealed.  The AFRL researcher in question had been communicating with Dick Weir for at least 6 years and based on other records released via FOIA, Weir was targeting a top government skeptic with this invitation.  The skeptic, who will remain unnamed as an unearned courtesy from yours truly, asked Weir if he had completed fabrication of a device.  No, but Weir felt they were close enough to make the invitation.  Is Weir saying "no" in relation to fully completed EESU's (cf. "pick n place robots") or in relation to basic EESU components?  The records do not clarify and attempts to gain more information via interviews have stalled.  However, through an unofficial interview, it was learned that this particular skeptic would not attend the EEStor event--rather his boss would--who happens to be a notable pioneer in the Directed Energy community.

Around the same time frame, another group of government skeptics at Sandia National Labs were receiving a similar invitation from Dick Weir.  According to three separate Department of Energy sources, Weir was looking for Sandia to perform an independent validation of EEStor technology via testing performed inside EEStor facilities.  Sandia balked initially at the idea of observing a test rather than conducting testing within Sandia facilities (but later consented to all of Weir's conditions).  According to one official, they weren't actually certain of whether or not Sandia owned the proper equipment to conduct a test of EEStor's technology...something declared unlikely by a senior battery tester at Intertek Inc. who was asked whether equipment to test EEStor level technology was available via commercial off the shelf equipment.  According to an AFRL researcher, Weir has his own test gear. Additionally, according to a third company also in discussions to attend their own EEStor demonstration,  Weir has indicated he has hired a 3rd party to calibrate and validate his test equipment.

What is the purpose of these demonstrations Weir is attempting to orchestrate?  According to AFRL, he has stated a need for additional funding which many insiders say is to build out a production campus in the Austin, TX area.  Sandia representatives say the purpose is intended specifically to provide 3rd party validation of the technology--anything less would be inappropriate to receive Sandia's participation.  To clarify further, Sandia pointed out that there are many scenarios where their 3rd party validation is appropriate---when companies are seeking funding or government officials are attempting to make decisions. Additionally, it should be noted that this particular group of battery testers are known for "stationary energy storage" (ie, for utility applications) not automotive. 

The skepticism of both Sandia and AFRL run along similar lines as has been seen elsewhere around industry.  EEStor is discussed frequently at conferences, typically in battery geek jokes one doesn't have to use too many cycles to imagine.   In Sandia's case,  there is a cautious sense of hope balanced by many years of disappointment and rejected overtures to Weir.   What's different this time?   Quite simply that Weir is reaching out to Sandia rather than vice versa.  No one is sure what to expect and there are fears of being made a fool of via some sort of invalid test.  As one AFRL researcher put it, "remember Pons & Fleischmann."

Of the records located via the AFRL FOIA, the most interesting to EEStor believers should be a pronouncement made by a leading directed energy pioneer in an email to several DE officials all over the Department of Defense:  "If the EEStor patent proves to be more than vaporware, it would revolutionize many technology applications, including DE."  Is this to be taken in relation to regular publicly-announced EEStor specs or is the premise here in regard to the military specs?   Although it's been speculated widely that EEStor's technology would fit this application, this is the first time a significant government official's statement confirms the speculation...granted with more than a tiny "if" attached along with.

It would appear that another implication of all of these revelations is that Dick Weir truly has kept his technology a secret even from those in the Defense industry who would seem to have the most to gain from it.  A possible motive for this is that the FOIA records indicate that in the case of AFRL, individuals there are researching capacitor energy storage themselves.  The AFRL skeptic references a 2007 article titled "Effect of LIquid-Phase Sintering on the Breakdown Strength of Barium Titanate" as having negative applicability both to EEStor's approach and his fellow colleagues' work.  Whatever the motive, it should be noted that the decisions surrounding it are being made by Lockheed Martin to whom EEStor has delegated the responsibility via it's contract. 

Note: the purpose of keeping the identities a secret in this article is because the events are fluid and the investigation is ongoing.  Additional information is potentially forthcoming.  Certain individuals who previously declined an interview are now, due to the FOIA, considering the wisdom of doing so.  I also happen to have a respect for the mission of the AFRL and have attempted to do this research without being a nuisance. 

Secondly, although we originally reported this FOIA has containing 1/2 inch worth of documents, upon inspection we learned there were several repeated copies of documents leaving only about one fourth as much info.


mechatronic said...

tease the government, is this to be on the safe side of a revolution ? why not tease the public.. get the real bucks
The Hybrid Electric Kinetic Photovoltaic Vehicle

JoelSapp said...

Mechatronic- Since EESTOR has Kleiner Perkins as business advisors, I suspect that they will do world wide release something similar to how Bloom Energy did their release. Use potential customers to describe how well the technology works and all the wonderful (and deadly) things they can do with such a technology. Once that happens, they will be able to get all the money they want without giving up any (or little) ownership in the company. Always a bonus for founders.

Yordan Georgiev said...