Wednesday, June 29, 2011

EEStor Patent Count Up 50% Overnight

Patents baby patents!  You got any patents?  I didn't think so!  I don't either. Nor does Y_Po. But EEStor has patents, applications for patents and future plans for patent applications.  Yeah baby, look at the patents. Breath the patents.  And guess what, these patents are rolling out of Cedar Park, TX faster than a new energy storage device high volume production capability....unfortunately.   In any case, thanks to a change in power of attorney, we now know that around 30 patents are in play at the USPTO signed, sealed and delivered.   Wait a second, that's not right actually.  Tom Villars with the correction:  "Closer to 22 patents and applications as 10 of these are just expired provisional applications. Looks like Mark has already started updating the spreadsheet."  Who is Mark anyway?  Mark is a bar owning patent reader from Thailand who may be  his own best customer. We don't know that for sure but this guy can locate patent updates. 

Remember how I famously predicted future EEStor patent lawsuits as recently as yesterday or so?  Tom Villars is on top of that too.  Some kind of filing or something taking on David Kelly of Lighten The Load fame.  Actually, not very famous but seems to have ideas similar to EEStor.  Great, yet another crackpot solid state energy storage project.   

Speaking of crackpots, as disclosed previously, Dr. Lucas Pettey was named as a co-inventor of a recent EEStor patent application.  This morning, we learned his esteemed colleague, Mr. Alex Bernstein (he dropped the "ander" in the ocean I think) is also a co-inventor at EEStor.  Bernstein's Linkedin profile demurely identifies his work as "Systems/Circuit Designer at R&D Company (choose not to disclose)."  Now isn't that just about the most modest reference to EEStor you've ever seen?   These guys will go to any length to disguise their future titan of industry status.  It turns out, Bernstein cut his teeth in college.  He did have an 8 month stint at AMD in support of the Hyper-Transport bus which...ok, I will fight the urge to end this article with a pun.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Seth Fletcher's Bottled Lightning Fantasy

Suppose you've concluded strongly that the future of energy storage will be based on lithium ion technologies. You know, as in, discussions with others do no good with you because you're completely set in your ways now.  Thus, you decide to write a short history of energy storage and make many elements of the past meld together into a crescendo of lithium ion joy.  Along the way, it becomes obvious that you've basically penned a love letter to your favorite member of the periodic table: lithium.  But unfortunately, once the train is in motion, there is no bringing it to a halt and thus, that's right, you end up kneeling, bowing and kissing the lithium covered parchments of earth (in bolivia and chile for example) in unrestricted, full blown lithium worship.... and all the while you are typing up your manifesto, lithium white powder is covering your entire body as for some kind of nouveau religious ritual trending among writers feigning a low profile in New York Starbucks locations.

That sums up my first impression of Seth Fletcher's new book, "Bottled Lightning."  Shall I go on? Ok, no, I'm only kidding.  This is a really great book, written by someone who has a vision of the future that features lithium ion.   Fletcher makes the most compelling case to date that lithium ion IS the future.   That makes it immediate mandatory reading for anyone nursing EEStoryland Fantasies.   Let me dial down this review and give you some information targets you need to take dead aim at in order to gain enlightenment like me.

Drill into the story of John Goodenough, the inventor of the modern rechargeable lithium ion battery. Fletcher does a great job of tracing the history of Goodenough's work first with the lithium ion cobalt-oxide cathode he invented which made tiny mobile phones feasible.  Note especially how Goodenough signed away royalty rights to this technology to Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) Harwall who made billions in licensing fees and gave Goodenough.......$0.  That's right, the man who invented key elements of the batteries used now by the billions walked away from a key piece of his life's work virtually penniless.  That's impossible! Every person who publishes their work for peer review walks away a millionaire when they invent something like lithium ion batteries, right?  Read Fletcher's book. Find out what it says.

 Goodenough's experience is good nourishment for all of the idiots out there who can't stand it that EEStor won't blab about the details of their even greater accomplishments.  Scientists are geniuses aren't they?   Anyway, Goodenough goes on to continue inventing and has another fascinating intellectual property dispute based on his work with lithium iron phosphate.  The net of  that episode is that the theoretical scientific underpinning of how his system works is still not yet settled among mainstream science.  Wha? Huh?  That's impossible!!??  Read Fletcher's book. Find out what it says.  This confusion over what precisely is happening at the teeny tiniest level laid the groundwork for a dispute between A123 Systems and Hydro-Quebec, who licensed Goodenough's work in this area.  I promise you will love that patent war as it will give you a taste of headaches to come.

In any case, the rest of the Fletcher's book is excellent. You'll love it more than the soup you eat at your favorite cafe reading it.  Fletcher will try to convince you that the sources of lithium are abundant and ripe for exploitation by the modern manufacturing world for use most especially in electric cars we now see coming online all around us.  And after a few glasses of his kool-aid, you'll be comfortable with the idea that lithium ion powered spaceships will assist with the colonization of mars.   Anyway, to wrap up, Fletcher is insane, his ideas are completely bonkers but he is an excellent writer and story teller.   He's smarter than me, (no question about it), but he's afflicted with a profoundly flawed perception of reality that he will likely take to his grave...via an EESU powered hearse....if EEStor is real.  :-)

Monday, June 27, 2011


Late Friday, a mysterious video posted to YouTube purported to be of EEStor founder Dick Weir making wild pronouncements about EEStor technology and it's potential impact on the US economy.   After a brief discussion with EEStor today, I learned it is not credible.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Powder Stash Suggests Maybe EEStor Is In Production

For years, curious searchers of EEStor truth have wondered to themselves, "how can those guys be in high volume production in a tiny strip mall?" Well, thanks to yet another anonymous source, we are now able to confirm the powder production is going gangbusters. Observe.

Secret EEStor Powder Storage Site     Cedar Park, TX
As you can see, the powder production is exceeding the capacity of the secret Cedar Park storage facility.  The issue came to the attention of local citizens when it became increasingly difficult to wade through 3 feet of packed powder all over Cedar Park, TX.  The city council was able to pass a resolution setting lift tickets at $45/day for non-citizens.

Conincidentally, researchers from Penn State recently began posting " Cedar Park vacation pictures" to their facebook accounts like this:

Friday, June 17, 2011

EEStory Finally Talked To Database Table Death

As you rock back and forth with drool escaping on to your clothes and things around you in response to being down, it may be a good time to consider whether your addiction to my website is really the best thing for you.   Sure, it is great fun to talk with others every day about the same mostly silent battery company, but is it good for you?   Perhaps this is a fork in the road for you?  On the right is the path that leads right back to your addiction once we repair the database for the EEStory that houses forum posts.  On the left is the potential of a new turn for you, back into the light wherein you might regain a tiny fraction of the dignity you've lost pursuing barium titanate tidbits at  It is your choice to make. I'm sending you all positive energy, buddy.....don't get zapped by it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vinod Khosla's Ongoing Obsession with Energy Storage...Worth Following

I've written about Vinod Khosla's interests in energy storage several times.  He has many strong opinions about many areas of cleantech but energy storage has to be placed near the top of what he is passionate about.  Previously, I reported on Khosla's investment in Recapping Inc., a startup intent on revolutionizing ceramic based capacitor storage using insight gained from semiconductor fabrication experience among it's ranks and combining it with the knowledge & experience of Penn State's leading ceramics researchers Clive Randall, Eric Cross & a few unknowns who probably wish they could get their names published in articles like this one that I write (ok, probably not).  Most of my attempts to get a recent update on Recapping's need to produce a working prototype for ARPA have gone ignored.  I say most because at least one attempt was not ignored and lead to an email telling me to quit bugging the researchers.  :-)

My read on Recapping is the simple one:  what they are trying to do is not easy. :-)  It's amusing to me that they have embarked on what is best described as an EEStor-like project, something many of them have spoken on negatively in the past.  (I put it that way to see if I can invoke correction emails behind the scenes if you must know).

In the meantime, Vinod Khosla is not waiting around to see if Recapping can recreate EEStor technology.  Instead, he has placed yet another bet in yet another similarly described energy storage startup.  As avid readers of this blog know, ARPA provided funding to multiple energy storage startups last year. Two of the projects sounded similar to me: Recapping and a project from Stanford lead by researcher Fritz Prinz.  I learned this week from another cleantech blog that Khosla is also invested in a company which intends to license the All Electron Battery Prinz and team are working on. That company is called Quantumscape, a name chosen perhaps to signal arrival at that "Netscape moment" in energy spoken about by several VC's like John Doerr at Kleiner Perkins over the years.   Khosla's latest slide deck describing his philosophy of energy and interests in it include reference to Quantumscape.  

So what about this other battery project at Stanford?  To find out, I contacted Fritz Prinz who told me that it is "premature to make any statements at this point" about his progress.  I pointed out to him that referencing statement making is rarely done when things are going poorly to which he replied cautiously:

In my long history of science I learned that it take sometimes much longer than one thinks to get things done. Premature statements can lead to loss of credibility. I want to keep my credibility with you and rest of the community high by remaining neutral at this point and not making any statements until we are ready to publish. Our results are not ready for peer review.

Of course, the proper retort was to point out that patent disclosures for his project have included claims of energy density around 250wh/kg which he acknowledged was true.  He told me that the patents are still under review and that some of the earliest identified structures are now out of date....which was intriguing.  We closed out the conversation by agreeing that I would be the first person to interview him once he has news, an honor I won by simply requesting contrast to everyone else who had simply requested an interview irrespective of order. ;-)

Ok, time to drive this article closer to completion.  Why is Khosla so vocal about lithium ion and other legacy energy storage technologies?  Is it because he knows Recapping & Quantumscape have the goods?  You tell me.   If they do or they don't, there is, as it turns out, yet another opportunity to hedge one's bets.

ARPA awarded some funding to Gerhard Welsh of Case Western Reserve University for yet another capacitor based energy storage technology.  In previous disclosures, Welsh has been modest in describing his prospects by saying his technology could be best geared for power electronics applications more so than battery replacement.  He mentioned that he is working with Rutile (TiO2) or titanate based dielectrics (remember Rolf's Quantum battery?).  I asked Dr Welsh about disclosures in his patent application which suggest that 2000J/cc is possible in a capacitor based storage system. Was this something he has achieved?  His reply:

a) 2000 J/cc in a capacitor dielectric is theoretically possible. However, we have not achieved it yet, and it is uncertain whether is can be practically achieved.   The highest we have achieve so far is near 400 J/cc in a self-repairing (Ti-oxide based) dielectric. The self-discharge times (CV-time constants) of such capacitors need improvement. The ARPA-e grant allows us to work on developing dielectrics with higher energy density than the best commercial capacitors and to address their reliability . 
b) the quoted energy densities are for dielectrics operating at a high fraction of their theoretical field strength. Such high fields (500 to 1000 Volt/micrometer) can only be sustained in an electrolytic capacitor. As the volume fraction of dielectric in an electrolytic capacitor is usually less than 20%, the energy density of the capacitor is less than 0.2  times the energy density of the dielectric.  This is still much better than what can be achieved in a ceramic capacitor. With geometric optimization this factor can be improved. We are also working on achieving a high geometrical efficiency (form factor).  In part this enable utilization of a high volume fraction of dielectric. It is also necessary for power, i.e., low series resistance in a capacitor enables rapid charging and discharging of a capacitor.  A power capacitor needs both an energy-dense dielectric and a geometry that allows a low series resistance. 

So, there you have it. Measured results of 400J/cc with prospects for going higher.  I think these projects prove that it isn't so crazy to suggest capacitors will one day replace batteries, as some of us have been saying for years (in my case, upon learning about EEStor).  Congratulations to you if like me, you made such statements when it was deemed crazy talk. ;-)  

Now for an obligatory discussion question.  What do you make of Khosla's money following ARPA's money?  Clearly, he is hedging his bets but isn't it correct to point out that he could shoulder all of these risky projects entirely on his own dime?  This situation caused me to have the following idea.  It seems like it would be a good idea if the US Federal Govt or DOE maintained some level of equity in projects it funds. This would allow things that become a hit to help pay for further research. I hope someone in DOE already had that idea and implemented it.  I'd hate to see taxpayers shoulder a majority of risk allowing billionaires like Khosla to reap a majority of the value.  That's not cool if that is what is going on....unless you are Vinod Khosla.