Sunday, August 10, 2008

John Miller Drops another Shoe at EEStory

EEStory actually practices good journalism. The latest example is its interview with John Miller. Miller writes on capacitor technology for Best, a trade publication for the battery-electrical storage industry. Miller is associated with JME, Inc., whose business activities include "Electrochemical Capacitor (DLC) Consulting & Contract Research & Development, Testing". Thus Miller, like Andrew Burke has some real expertes on capacitors. Miller stated that he evaluated the EEStor technology twice for United States Government Agencies. He visitede EEStor on both occasions and states that EEStor CEO Richard Weir is:
"He's a very nice fellow. He seems to want to answer questions to the best of his ability....he's not strongly technical, he talks big words but he doesn't understand the science of what he's talking about really."

Miller raised a number of fundamental issues about EEStir technology. Miller asserted that EEStor was attempting to violate no less than three laws of nature:

1. When you make something that you want to work, if its made
up of lots of constituent parts , its usually lower reliability. And
if you read the patent they have there, he's talking about putting
together 10s of thousands of parallel connected capacitors. And any
one of them fails, means the system fails. And they will fail,
Capacitors fail by dielectric breakdown. They will fail. Now you can
get around that on capacitors that have what's called self clearing
mechanisms. But Barium Titanate does not have self clearing
mechanisms. So once you have a breakdown, it's a short. So
calculations that I did..... well I also was also hired by EPRI. The
Electric Power Research Institute to write a position paper on this
and I did. Apparently they were getting a lot of questions from
their customers..utility there anything there? [with eestor] The
reliability is just not practical when you don't have self clearing.

2. [H]e's operating at the breakdown strength and you
never do that with a capacitor because you always have avalanche
breakdown. The rule of thumb is you drop it down an order of magnitude
in voltage and your energy goes as the voltage squared so that's 100
times lower.

3. [T]he third problem with this is [the] thermal management issues. He's
talking about charging this thing in his patent and all his
publications ...charging it very quickly. Even if it's 99.9%
efficient, the energy that 10th of a percent energy lost during that
process over the 5 minutes he's talking about would cause the whole
thing to melt down. It's too compact. It's incredible, it's twice the
energy density of lithium ion batteries, the highest energy density
battery. You just can't put that heat in there and expect the thing to
survive. [laughing] It's ceramic material, the temperature would rise
so great it would melt down. The metalization what he's talking
about, low temperature metalization....that would all melt.

Miller continued his evaluation of Weir by saying:

He can be very sincere and believe what he's doing is what should be
done. But has it been reviewed by other people? No, I don't think so.
Does he have the combined intelligence like the people at Penn St
that have been spending many many careers on dielectric studies.
That's why I'm saying, what's all the hub bub and all the big noise?

Miller makes his statements claims with the implied authority of the leading experts in the field of capacitor technology, the Center for Dielectric Studies at Penn State. The Center for Dielectric Studies is multi-university Cooperative Research Center backed by the National Science Foundation. I would expect good science from them. Thus of all of the critiques of Weir's so called invention so far, Miller's is the most far reaching. Miller comes right out and says, Richard Weir does not know what he is talking about. He does not understand the fundamental scientific problems with what he seeks to invent. His concepts do not pass peer review. He has committed multiple errors in his fundamental science, and does not understand the science well enough to understand his mistakes.

Both John Miller Miller and Burke have reputations as capacitor technology experts. Both have a good grasp of fundamental electrical science as applied to capacitor technology. Men like these do not make statements about capacitor technology which they believe are inconsistent with good science. To do so, would damage their professional reputations.

Prudence would suggest, at the very least, that the EEStor venture is a very risky one, and that the speculate investor should carefully weigh the odds that the scientists are wrong, before he takes the plunge.


DV8 2XL said...

It's the same old story: If sounds to good to be true, it very likely is to good good to be true.

To me the big red flag here has always been the heat issue. In almost all schemes that involve trafficking in large amounts of energy, the one sure predictor of failure is a lack of a good hard explanation of the heat accounting. If this is missing, or waved off as trivial, hold on to your wallet.

Warren Heath said...

With that piece, I would say you nailed the lid shut on EEStor, way to go Charles. Back to Altairnano, our best hope, if only they would produce them in Mega-Quantities, and sell them to Lowly Peeons like Myself.

There’s an important lesson to be learned here. I know a lot of bright, competent people in the EV field swore by EEStor, and Zenn Motors seemed trustworthy. When even reasonably well informed, technically competent people in a field can be misled, imagine how easy scam artists can sucker politicians, press and environmentalists, who almost all have close to zero technical competence.

When it comes to Energy Technology, the Scam Artists are coming out of holes in every wall, like Rats out of a Slum Lord’s Apartment Complex. The names Al Gore and T. Bone Pickens come to mind. It’s easy for the Snake Oil Salesman to sell the Wacky Product, and without a Solid Peer Reviewed Technical Assessment by Independent Experts in the field, a technology is not worth putting one penny of taxpayer’s money into. Billions have been wasted because of this, the Corn Ethanol $5.2 billion per year boondoggle, the 10’s of billions that have gone into the Hydrogen Economy scam, the ‘’Clean’’ Coal Fairy Tale, and now the Mega-Wind and Mega-Solar specials. A hard look at the numbers on Solar and Wind, make it absolutely clear that they are Total Losers, and incapable of supporting our civilization, Nuclear & Dirty Coal, remain our only options.

Here’s an example of the complex tradeoffs in analyzing energy technology options. One of the commodities reckoned to be in short supply, for the electrification of transport is the powerful Rare-Earth Magnets, used in E-Bike and EV Brushless DC or PM Synchronous Motors. Now I’m hearing that Wind Turbines manufacturers are switching to direct drive PM Synchronous Generators, rather than huge (like 20 ton) gearboxes, that have been prone to failure, and are very expensive to repair or replace. That’s all we need suck up supplies of precious magnets for EV and E-Bike uses. And contrary to Gore’s wacky plan, Electrification of Transport with BEV’s, E-Bikes, and HEV’s, is a far faster, far more effective, far more inexpensive way to reduce GHG emissions, reduce dependence on Foreign Oil from volatile regions, and reduce Foreign Exchange Losses. The latter two of which, the Gore Plan will actually worsen, not improve.

Anonymous said...

Nice post Warren.

I myself firmly believe that the levers of power, no pun intended, are literally in the hands of simians.

Else, how can you explain these blind alleys we continue to go down...


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