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.