Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'm a Genius: Give Solyndra's Factory to EEStor

Solyndra Finances
The train wreck that is Solyndra continues to unfold in the media, each day seeming to be worse than the prior one.  Now, poor Stephen Chu (nice guy that he is) has stepped up to claim responsibility for the risky decision to fund Solyndra.  Critics such as myself have advanced two main points throughout all of this.  First, investments in technologies like solar and wind are inherently risky due to their success being extremely dependent on breakthrough energy storage which is actually a better focus for research dollars in the short term. Second, a better use of federal funds would seem to be gained from  tax or market incentives for  technologies that achieve specs we desire. This would allow multiple companies to compete for the market opportunity, something we know works well.  But, none of this thinking is going to emerge in any of the public analysis of the situation. Renewable energy is going to get drowned out by oil & gas interests even though we're only a few months beyond two of the most catastrophic energy debacles in human history (gulf oil leak & Fukushima Nuclear accident).  Just when you thought it couldn't get any darker as a renewable energy supporter, now we've got a political scandal on our hands all prepped up for information distortion.  But guess what. There is light at the end of the tunnel via an ingenious solution I came up with all by my lonesome self.

Dude from Solyndra Whose Name I Never Learned
Rather than sit around crying about the waste of money sunk into Solyndra and the struggle to sell Solyndra assets for pennies on the dollar,  lets turn that frown upside down.  Let's figure out a way to take that brand spanking new factory out in California and put it to good use with a company that is probably-very likely-to be ready to put it to good use:  EESTOR BABY!!!    That's right crazy government people and unimportant tax payers, I'm giving you a simple way to salvage this situation by taking an asset we, the taxpayers, invested in heavily and rather than just sell it for a tiny pittance, let's see if maybe a more deserving opportunity could make profound use of it.

What I propose is that the U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath hold her honorable horses so that an official inquiry from the Department of Energy can be made to ascertain the suitability of selling that asset to none other than the world's soon to be favorite energy storage pioneer, E E S T O R!!!

Solyndra Factory Workers Grab Assing With President Obama
Ok, ok, I know reasonable skeptics out there are climbing out of their skin right now at the thought of this maneuver. But consider for a moment, one tiny little thing.   If EEStor produced a meaningful progress report--something that no skeptic anywhere could deny is absolute proof that they are ready to go into production--wouldn't it make sense to make the most of this Solyndra situation and strategically---as a country---get that asset in the hands of an American company that could single handedly get this country moving in the right direction again?  You know that the bankruptcy proceedings are simply going to lead to a foreign owned company buying the property for a major loss to Joe Taxpayer.   I don't care what the details are of ripping out the customized crap Solyndra has in there either.  If I were the State of California and knew EEStor was ready, I'd be begging them to take the property. BEGGING!

Secretary Chu Grab Assing With Governor Schwarzenegger At Solyndra Ground Breaking Ceremony  

Now, then, even though I know I'm right that this would be a brilliant, strategic move that could jumpstart EEStor ramp up, I'm going to close with a question: assuming EEStor is ready to use that factory, is there any other company out there that would be more strategic to use it when it comes to the question of our national economy?
EEStor Grab Assing At Front Door

In case you missed it, the argument here depends upon these conditionals:

IF EEStor is ready.

IF EEStor has the goods. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

DOE Releases EEStor FOIA Response

According to records released today by the Department of Energy Sandia Labs,  Dick Weir is a bit of a tease. In emails between EEStor and DOE, we learn that in the Spring of 2010, Dick Weir re-initiated contact--via phone-- with Sandia Labs energy storage testing team then lead by now retired John Boyes.  EEStor was seeking a "witness test" of a "test capacitor" subjected to the following tests, "energy density, specific energy, weight & volume over a specified temperature range."   Sandia initially agreed but after some internal discussion spawned by an email from DOE energy storage lead Imre Gyuk,  a decision was made to not associate Sandia's stamp of approval via a witness test.  Instead, Sandia proposed to EEStor that they would need to have a sample delivered to Sandia for testing and they provided EEStor with a rough overview of what would be tested and how.   Dick Weir responded to this by agreeing to provide samples for testing at Sandia but first invited them to visit EEStor facilities for an introduction and overview of his technology.   Sandia agreed to visit EEStor with the understanding that no certification would follow regardless of their impression of what was transpiring there and that that would only follow from actual testing at Sandia facilities.   The email trail goes cold at that point and when I spoke with various persons involved months later, they said EEStor simply never followed up and set a date.  Is that still the current status?  I think so but don't know for certain...if anything came together, it apparently didn't generate an email trail.

The release mirrors the AFRL FOIA released last year in containing occasional jabs at EEStor credibility but in a much more professional manner.   The emails show Sandia as curious as one might expect but as out of the loop as everyone.

The records also show that, at some point in 2008, Zenn Motors initiated some dialogue with Sandia about possible validation testing of EEStor technology.  Again, that tapered off as well with no result.

One interesting exchange with DOE came in March 2009 from a former participant at known as MilitantSkeptic but who uses at least two aliases, Tim Stradinski and Tim Adudell. He identified himself to DOE as the owner of a "wind turbine manufacturing company in the US." He was writing to them to let them know that "there is a group of people using the US Department of energy and Sandia as a tool in a stock manipulation scheme."  This email was sent on the same day I published this article...the facts of which are validated by some of the records released today.  ;-)

Other than that, it would appear we have yet another interesting set of documents to peruse but not the concrete info we had all hoped could shed some definitive light on EEStor.   If the release does not stimulate your imagination, take a look at the very thorough letter regarding what records were withheld and why.  That ought to tide you over for a week or so. :-)

Another interesting question you might consider is why did it take Sandia over a year to provide this response...300+ days beyond the legal requirement?

Here are the records:

 DOE EEStor FOIA Response. 

Incidentally, today marks roughly the 4 year anniversary of my blogging illness associated with EEStor.  Thanks to you Mr. & Mrs Reader for making this fun for me even without a publicly released working prototype.