Thursday, July 24, 2008

The EEStory as Told by a Mysterious Blogger

This blog is really in its grandest sweep devoted to what I call the electrification of society. The means of accomplishing that goal, I argue is through the use of Thorium Fuel Cycle Reactors, and by LFTR is by far the superior Thorium cycle reactor design. One end of the energy story is the end of the power line that connects to electrical generators. The other end of the line and hence of the story is the way that electricity gets consumed.

Electrically powered cars, trucks, busses and trains hold the promise of replacing carbon based fuel powered vehicles in the not distant future. We need portable electrical storage for many transportation applications. So far batteries, including lithium-ion batteries have not proven capable of providing enough transportation range and energy storage amenities to throw off the shackles of the internal combustion engine. Hence the hybrid car and the plug in hybrid. The best we get with current battery technology is commuting range plug-ins. We need more range if the promise of electrical vehicle is to be fulfilled.

Enter EEStor, its super duper capacitor, and Richard D. Weir.

EEStor is an Austin technological "start up" headed by one Richard Weir. Before Weir got into the super duper capacitor business he engineered disk drives for IBM. Thus he could be said to posses respectable a business and product engineering background. Weir believes that he has developed a revolutionary capacitor technology.  

Weir had a revolutionary idea about electrical storage and co-founded EEStor in 2001 with a gentleman named Carl Nelson, another disk drive engineer/product manager. Weir and Nelson had previously co-founded disk-storage startup, Tulip Memory Systems. To date Nelson appears as a walk on in the EEStory. At any rate Weir began the circulate the claim that he had developed a revolutionary capacitor technology.

In 2004 when Richard Weir was looking for money, he used an incredibly obscure rout. He contacted an obscure publication called "Utility Federal Technology Opportunities" and gave it his basic sales pitch. The brief account of the EEStory pitched by Weir concluded:
Until now, electrostatic capacitors have not been considered for energy storage applications because of their low energy density characteristics. Capacitors applied to storage are based upon electrochemical and electrolytic capacitor technologies, which possess higher energy densities. EEStor's development proposition changes that premise by eliminating the inherent weaknesses of electrostatic technology for storage applications.

A number of major companies have said they would issue a purchase order quickly if specs are met.

The company is currently seeking equity investment of $3.5 million. A business plan is available

Weir's pitch attracted the attention of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the crème de la crème of venture capitol firms. It is not clear who walked Weir through the door at Kleiner Perkins, but it good guess is that it would have been an Austin connection who believed in Weir's credibility. Weir got $3 million in working capitol, and an air of credibility. Kleiner Perkin's money paid of the beginning of development of a production line.

EEStor found another capitol source in 2004, an obscure Canadian manufacturer of glorified electrical golf carts, "Feel Good" Motors. Cross my heart and hop to die, I did not make the name up! Feel Good was soon to get a makeover as ZENN Motors, and Feel Good/ZENN owner Ian Clifford revealed himself to be a man of ambitions so vast that it is to big for Canada. Ian is a former professional photographer, who founded the first Canadian electric car manufacturing company because no one else had. If things work out for EEStor, Ian could well being as rich as Bill Gates. That would not be bad for an amateur auto industry executive who doesn't have an MBA, but then Bill Gates never completed college.

Which brings us to last year when the EEStiry began to get troubling. In January 2007, Toronto journalist Tyler Hamilton reported on the EEStory in Technology Review. Hamilton noted, "The implications are enormous and, for many, unbelievable." This word of caution has been reflected in Hamilton's followups on the EEStory, and in comments which Hamilton's followups have attracted.

Hamilton's January 2007 story included an indication that a product would be seen soon:
"The company announced this week that this year it plans to begin shipping such a product to Toronto-based ZENN Motor, a maker of low-speed electric vehicles that has an exclusive license to use the EESU for small- and medium-size electric vehicles."

To date no EEStor Electrical Storage Unit powered ZENN-mobiles have been seen zipping around Toronto. Clifford has spun a story of why this is the case. It is clearly a red flag that makes both ZENN and EEStor look bad.  ZENN which operates on a shoe string passed on $2.5 Million to EEStor, and is reported to have committed $5 Million more, once the ESU passes third party testing.   I am unaware of any reports that ZENN's $5 Million has arrived in Austin.  

There are other red flags. EEStor hype in a commenter on Hamilton's story stated, Unfortunately EEStor never made and will never make the supercapacitor described in the patent because they ignore a well known physical effect, called “dielectric saturation”.

CapacitorMan was even more pointed:

Good point. As someone who has worked in this field for decades, there are several areas that have been overlooked, in addition to the dielectric saturation:
1. The first, and greatest is the temperature coefficient on these kind of dielectrics, it drops 80% at the high temperature end,
2. The voltage stress will be 3 times what is typically allowed.
3. The failure mode for these types of capacitors is shorting, and that energy, if real, would release the equivalent of 100 sticks of dynamite.
4. To make the capacitor using low cost electrodes means firing in reducing atmospheres, which this type BT can't take
5. They cannot get the characteristics they claim with one micron grain size.
6. They ignore the law of mixtures-when they mix the two glasses, they will drop the K dramatically.

Thus there is some skepticism people who appear to be Electrical Engineering professionals. This is a red flag.

In December 2007, when I sat down at my computer to try figure the EEStory out, the red flags were obvious. This will turn out to be one of two stories. The first story will be a story of deception great deception, with self deception perhaps playing a key role. The second story would be of a great technological triumph by brilliant American inventors, Texans who made oil obsolete. That could easily be a top 10 story of the 21st century. I have yet to think of an in between.

I have yet to introduce the mysterious blogger who has taken up with some considerable tenacity, and somewhat lesser literary skills the EEStory.    I do not mean this at all in derision, often I write badly, so it would be absurd for me to cast stones.   Our mysterious blogger has offered an essay on his anonymous status.  He tells us that he does not want his blogging to be connected with his regular job,  he wishes to protect his family, and he does not want his mistakes to be remembered.   The last point would require a major work of commentary,  but I am going to let it slide today.

At any rate anonymous started his blog last year and mainly reposted stories he found on the Internet.  But then he posted an email address to which persons with inside information about the EEStory could respond. This brought EEStories which EEStor insiders wanted to tell. Some see the latest round of EEStories as confirmation that the basicEEStory is true. And as human hope ever overcomes caution, a bubble of speculative excitement seems to be building around the EEStor blog. But still no EEStor prototype has arrived in Toronto. The anonymous blogger is perhaps wise to not stand behind his or her account of the EEStory.

Update 7/25/08: A lot of people desperately want to believe that the EEStory is true. See the comment section of this post.


erkyl said...

Well, like you said, it's either gonna work or it's not. In the meantime, it's very entertaining. It bugs me that, for the size vehicles he has an exclusive on, we will be dependent upon Ian Clifford to have the savvy to build cars and license out the technology to the majors in an effective manner. It will take an army of lawyers working full time on all the licensing deals he'll be faced with. Lots of negotiations. Lots of business terms to work out. He seems like a great guy, but oh please, oh please let COO Brian Cott know what he is doing.

Charles Barton said...

It is hard to imagine ZENN building a production empire, but Clifford is greatly commended in my book, for wanting to build a new type of car in North America.

ApplewoodCourt said...

Clifford needs to step up to the plate and make some credible abd verifiable announcements soon, or else I think that we can safely assume that the whole EEStory is a fraud. Zenn must offer something of substance soon, or else they will be quickly overtaken by Th!nk. The Th!nkCity which should arrive in the US in '09 already has a range of ~100 miles and has a top speed of ~65MPH. The Th!nkCity accomplishes all of this WITHOUT the reliance upon any Super Secret Area 51 Reverse Engineered Alien Technology - sarcasm alert.

steve said...

You're leaving out the most important part of the story... that Lionel Liebman, Ian Clifford, and Richard Weir (in his patent application and press releases) have all made reference to working EESTOR prototypes.

Furthermore, you need to keep up with the comments at B's blog because MANY people have pointed out that Weir adressed and measured Dialectric Saturation in the Patent application.

You can see that Patent application and Weir's discussion of dialectric saturation here

And below is a comment form one of commentators who had previously questioned wheter EESTOR had confronted the DS problem:

MARCUS wrote:

"...below is a quoted paragraph from the patent located here:

copied from the above referenced patent:

"The following data indicates the relativity permittivity of ten components measured at 85° C, then 85° C and 3500 V, and the last test 85° C and 5000 V. Components 850 C 85° C - 3500 V 85° C - 5000 V 1. 19,871 19,841 19,820 2. 19,895 19,866 19,848 3. 19,868 19,835 19,815 4. 19,845 19,818 19,801 5. 19,881 19,849 19,827 6. 19,856 19,828 19,806 7. 19,874 19,832 19,821 8. 19,869 19,836 19,824 9. 19,854 19,824 19,808 10. 19,877 19,841 19,814 Average K 19,869 19,837 19,818 Results indicates that the composition-modified barium titanate powder that has been coated with 100 A Of AUO3, immersed into a matrix of PET plastic, and has been polarized provides a dielectric saturation that is above the 5000 V limit and the relative permittivity is highly insensitive to both voltage and temperature."

Now they not only state measurements but also they clearly mention dielectric saturation.

For one this decidedly eliminates the theory that they are not aware of potential dielectric saturation effects. Secondly it strongly indicates they have measured them.

I appreciate you're being cautious, but it appears that you're only providing one side of dialectric saturation issue, the dark side.

Charles Barton said...

steve, but i do keep up. Please keep in mind the words of P.T Barnum, "There is a sucker born every minute." ZENN needs to start in auto testing of prototype ESU. You cannot simply launch an over night tested radical new product with out years of testing. That is not the way sane people do business. As I said, the failure EEStor to deliver a prototype to ZENN in 2007 and the the continuing failure to do so is a red flag.

steve said...

You're changing the subject. You already mentioned the "red flag" in this post and the one you did last week on EESTOR... we know your position. What you failed to do was give the other side of the "dialectric saturation" issue.

Try to be fair and balanced, not Fox News fair and balanced... Im talking about the real thing.

You never mentioned that EESTOR certified in a Patent application that the permittivity numbers and the dialectric issue was not a problem according to their patent application.

They've told the world they've achieved permittivity in their "engineering level" prototypes.

The delay is for "production line" ESU's...

But more than that, why don't you just say you think they're lying instead of beating around the bush with sarcasm. Just have the guts to say what you feel.

I'll ask you flat out, what does your gut tell you? Do you think Weir has lied to the public? Do you think he's fooled Lockhhed Martin, Mort Topfer, Kleiner Perkins and Zenn? Is Weir a grifter, Charles?

Has Weir pulled the super duper wool over everybody's eyes?

Just tell it like it is, man. Tell the sheeple. Tell them how it is.

I'm serious. I read your blog and I feel that you think EESTOR is a scam. I'm asking you. Who are the suckers here? Who would PT be pointing at as suckers? Lay it out. Be specific.

Charles Barton said...

Steve, I changed the subject from from what? i pointed to are performance deadline that EEStor could have meet simply by turning prototype ESUs over to ZENN. I pointed out that EEStor appears to have a financial incentive for handing a unit to ZENN for 3rd party testing. This is problems for EEStor's credibility, and it is a problem for ZENN's credibility as well. Had EEStor made the deal with GM or Ford, EEStor would have turned to prototype over, of it would be facing its customer in court.

steve said...

Charles, you failed to point out
that EESTOR has dealt with "dialectric stauration". Please comment upon just the "Dialectric saturation" issue. You mentioned the issue, but you never told your readers EESTOR has confronted the issue head on in its WIPO/EPO Patent application.

We can discuss all other issues at another time. I would like to know why you failed to update your readers as to EESTOR's latest Patent application.

steve said...

All of the criticism on EESTOR from those in the scientific hierarchy are based on the old Patents filed by EESTOR in the USPTO.

For example, retired scientist and inventor Anatoly Moskalev, the person who is often cited as having put the brakes on EESTOR because of the "dialectric saturation" issue, made the same mistake as you and others on this blog did recently in assuming that EESTOR hadn't discussed or measured "dialectric saturation".

I quote Moskalev below from the Tesla blog at:

Anatoly Moskalev wrote on January 22nd, 2007 at 10:41 pm

1. If you use Eps = 300 instead of Eps = 18500 you get ~50 times less energy per unit of volume.

2. There is no previous experience of use the dielectric material in question for implied field strengths

3. There is not a word about the effect I described from EEStore. And this effect does not make any trade secret - no reason to hide it. Actually would they comment the effect upfront themselves they would get better credibility.

Unbeknownst to Moskalev at the time, the WIPO/EPO Patent application, published prior to Moskalev's comments at the Tesla blog did, in fact, address "dialectric saturation":

Results indicate that the composition-modified barium titanate powder that has been coated with 100 A Of AUO3, immersed into a matrix of PET plastic, and has been polarized provides a dielectric saturation that is above the 5000 V limit and the relative permittivity is highly insensitive to both voltage and temperature.

I have asked Dr. Moskalev to comment at the Tesla blog. My request was sent to the moderator.

We shall see what happens.

The latest WIPO/EPO Patent Application that we've been discussing this week was published on September 3rd, 2006, a full FIFTEEN MONTHS before Moskalev made his infamous comments.

Funny how things come out of the past. The new Patent application only surfaced this month. I could find no references to it in other blogs or comments prior to July 2008.

The "scientists" came upon the inferior USPTO stuff, made up their minds this was garbage and stopped right there.

Had the scientific "hierarchy" done a more thorough search, as those of us here at B's blog did, they would have found what Nekote and Jay from this blog found this month and perhaps the dialog would have been much more productive and educational.

Instead, we got this from Dr. Mosklaev:

Under this conditions I would think that at least some proof is needed that effect I estimated and explaned in such details is irrelevant.

OK I am nobody and piece of trash and EEStore people are great Gods. So whatever they just say with no proof is surely gospel truth and who am I to question Their Majesty. Want to have faith without proof in this technology - just do it - no issue with me.

The scientific "hierarchy" focussed on the USPTO Patent Application... which clearly does not hold the keys to the Kingdom.

No, that bit of bounty was cleverly filed by Weir with WIPO which, due to the USA having signed the Berne Treaty, negated the need for EESTOR to have also sent an Application to the USPTO.

The WIPO/EPO Patent Application for a fully working production line created to print these "game changing" capacitors via the "Patent-pending" silk screen process has, as far as I can tell, never been discussed by Dr. Moskalev or this Dr. Randall or anybody else in the scientific "hierarchy".

With all the "great minds" out there telling us that EESTOR's world is flat and not round, have you seen any of them include the WIPO/EPO data in their analysis?

If so, please provide a link.

This is not to say that if they did see that data, they would certainly agree with it. All I'm asking is if anyone in the scientific hierarchy, ie Dr. Randall or Dr. Moskalev, has come up with critiques of EESTOR that make direct reference to the data, measurements and other information included by EESTOR in its WIPO/EPO Patent application?

Fair question, right

steve said...

Had EEStor made the deal with GM or Ford, EEStor would have turned to prototype over, of it would be facing its customer in court.

So you've read the contract between EESTOR and ZENN? Please provide a link. Delays are common with all new technology. People said the Tesla would never come because of delays, but it's here, and the same is true for numerous examples of history.

Charles Barton said...

Steve, we don't have independent confirmation "Dialectric saturation" test outcomes. We have to take EEStor's word. You claim that EEStor has a prototype or prototypes. What has prevented EEStor from turning one or more prototypes over to ZENN if they in fact exist. You have stated your case and as far asm I am concerned you have not answered my arguments. I am not going to post any further comments from you.

dmon said...

As another one who desperately wants the EEStory to be tru... I think the key phrase in Charles' blog here is "self-deception" (think Steorn). I don't believe anyone would or could orchestrate a scam of this magnitude (except perhaps the government) - I think that if the EESU doesn't pan out, it's because Weir et al have deluded themselves.

Time will tell. My fingers are firmly crossed on this one.

Charles Barton said...

I have seen someone set up a business based on an untrue assumption. This person was very proud, and unable to face the fact that he had made a mistake. He began a pattern if self deception that ended in something like professional disgrace. His deception was exposed he was denounced on national media, he lost his career, and through it all he blamed others for his failure. Never once did he acknowledge, "I am at the root of it all."

Robert Hargraves said...

Why be upset with Richard D. Weir's entrepreneurism? Dozens of energy ideas are out seeking capital every week. Most fail, but why not just let the venture capital system and the market decide whether or not to risk such an investment?

The liquid thorium fluoride reactor has a lot of potential, and I would recommend you focus your considerable skills on enticing the venture capital community on such a winner [inexhaustible fuel, intrinsic safety, low hazard waste, nonproliferation, and economical power].

Charles Barton said...

Robert, I am willing to let people rise and fall on their own merits. As far as I am concerned if the story Richard Weir is telling is true it would be "one of the 10 top news stories of the 21st century." But is the story is true, it would appear that Richard Weir is his own worst enemy. My study is a case study of how attempts to communicate information about an alleged technological advance can end up raising questions of truth. My conclusion is that those questions exist about the truth of claims made by EEStor, which EEStor has failed to resolve, although if those claims are indeed true, it should be within the power of EEStor to resolve those truth questions. This is what I call a red flag.

softech said...

Interesting… I might try some of this on my blog, too. It’s quite interesting how you sometimes stop being innovative and just go for an accepted solution without actually trying to improve it… you make a couple of good points.
Venture Capital business plan

jimmy said...

this is not always true because ongoing companies create business plans, project plans, new product plans, and plans for acquiring and integrating other ventures. General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.” jimmy


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