Archive for the ‘EEStor’ Category


Sep 12

EEStor Has Just Invited Government Agencies to Technology Demonstration


[ad#post_ad]The EEStor, Zenn Motor Company saga isn’t over yet. Most people think its all just hype and vaporware, and after famously publishing that the infamous EESU would be unveiled “imminently” in July 2009 my credibility may have taken a hit. Actually I was only publishing what Zenn CEO Ian Clifford told me in an exclusive intervierw at the time.

Well it turns out despite more than a year later being without an EESU, Zenn is still alive though their cash resevers are dwindling fast, they are waiting for Texas-based EEStor, of which they are 11% owner, to deliver fully-functional electrical energy storage units (EESU) so that they can package them into brand new ZENNergy drivetrains that would be sold to other OEMs to propel their electric cars.

For those who aren’t up on this story, the EESU is a low-priced solid-state capacitor/battery hybrid device that would be several times as power and energy dense as lithium ion cells and therefore much more compact and lightweight. It could be recharged in 5 minutes and experience essentially no degradation over time. To boot it would be several times less expensive than lithium-cells and made out of readily available barite which is found in great abundance in the US. It is the holy grail of electric cars.

Too good to be true right? So far still seems so.

A blogger who goes by the name of “B” and intentionally remains anonymous has been incessantly and methodically researching and blogging about these two companies. I respect B and have emailed and spoken with him on numerous occasions. He recently pointed out new news to me he obtained by wielding the powerful tool of the FOIA (freedom of information act) with which he and his team was able to retrieve an email and many other documents from the US Air Force pertaining to EEStor.

The documents revealed that a senior staffer in the USAF Research Lab received a phone call on July 8th 2010 from Dick Weir, founder and CEO of EEStor, and co-inventor of the EESU technology. Weir told the staffer he was “almost ready to demonstrate” his capacitor, and was calling to invite the USAF to see a technology demonstration.

The staffer asked point blank if Weir had finally fabricated a fully working EESU. “Not quite,” responded Weir. “But we are so close.”

The email also noted that both Sandia National lab and Lockheed-Martin personnel were being invited to the demonstration as well. Lockheed has a partnership agreement with EEStor to produce military and possible grid-leveling applications based on the EESU.

B was also able to determine from anonymous sources that Weir wanted Sandia to perform testing of the EEStor technology, and provide third party verification of its properties, something that Sandia has reportedly “fully agreed” to. He also obtained information that the reason Weir was setting up this demonstration was that he needs more funding to expand his Texas production facility to go into commercial production. Third party testing would be needed to secure funding which may well be from the government.

The date of this demonstration is unknown and may have even already taken place. As usual, my request for information from Mr. Weir was not returned.

And so the story of EEStor lives on in real-time remaining filled with military and political intrigue, nail-biting excitement, and dreams of endless riches to hopeful Zenn shareholders and limitless inexpensive US made electric cars for the world.

But will it have a happy ending or are we blathering on about nothing. Only time will tell.

Source (


May 02

EEStor Insider Report


[ad#post_ad]The secrecy of EEStor is understandable. They are working on a disruptive product that could profoundly alter energy storage as we know it.  A high energy and power density, lightweight storage unit that is several fold less expensive and longer-lived than the latest lithium ion batteries.

The Texas based company is founded and operated by Dick Weir formerly a hard disc storage material engineer.  His cofoudner is Carl Nelson, a materials scientist.

After more than ten years of effort and no known proof of the invention working, there was rumor a functional product would appear by the end of last year.  That date came and went silently. Zenn Motors is the Canadian company that own 10.7% of EEStor and has plans to sell EEStor-powered electric car drivetrains.  Zenn abandoned the sale of its low speed neighborhood vehicle putting all of its proverbial eggs and publicly traded stock into the EEStor basket.

Zenn no longer comments publicly on EEStor, nor does its other customer military powerhouse Lockheed Martin or investor Kleiner Perkins.  This informational dead zone and stealth mode extreme silence is a source of anxiety to Zenn investors and EV advocates alike who fear the technology will never come true.

Recently an enthusiast of EEStor, active on the fan site, through some detective work was able to contact a close relative of a high level manager at EEStor and reported that information on the EVcast podcast. It was an attempt to break through the secrecy and find out what is going on behind the scenes in that Texas storefront.

The report garnered considerable controversy on the validity of this source as well as the source’s information. Considering me a “trustworthy reporter” this EEStor fan/reporter (known as thuben or Fred) contacted me and provided the details of his contact. Using this information I was successfully able to hold a brief conversation with the gentleman.

I can confirm through both the admission of the individual and independent 3rd party Internet sources he is indeed a first degree relative of a senior manager at EEStor and knows Dick Weir well.

He does not live in Texas and admitted he has never visited EEStor’s facility. He also wished to remain anonymous, a request I shall honor. He said of EEStor’s work he had only “very basic knowledge that you could get off the Internet.”

He said he does not know if the company has any working prototypes, but claims they are working “at the pace they are working” to develop the new technology and that making both the product and equipment to build it is “a slow and tedious process.”

The source admitted it is possible EEStor “might not achieve a viable product,” though Weir remains excited about the possibility they will. He did not confirm that he had told Fred it would take one to two years to produce a working product, saying “I don’t know if even they could tell you when they will have a product.” He said the company had about one to two years of finances left.

Calling the process similar to “alchemy” he noted “if it were easy it would have been done by a lot of other countries and companies.”  He admitted EEStor’s secrecy is to prevent competitors from creating the same technology.

Finally he did admit they were still “getting the capacitor or dielectric to work,”  and mentioned there have been considerable unexpected “obstacles” on the way to commercialization.


Apr 22

Zenn/EEStor Update


[ad#post_ad]What better a topic for Earth Day?  The Zenn Motors/EEStor Inc. saga has entered a new chapter, and its not 7 or 11…yet.

For years we have heard the secretive Texas start-up called EEStor has been working to develop a new form of energy storage based on their newly-invented barite-based material. This material is said to be formed into small ultracapacitor components which are then stacked like cubes into batteries of any desired size. These batteries (EESUs) would have several times the energy density of lithium-ion cells at a fraction of the volume, mass and cost, with a functionally unlimited lifetime and ability to fully charge in a few minutes.

Zenn is the Canadian company headed by CEO Ian Clifford that through its 10.7% ownership in EEStor and exclusivity agreement would put these batteries into electric cars, and has helped fan the flames of enthusiasm in the unseen technology.

Last summer Clifford told GM-Volt in an exclusive interview that EEStor would be unveiling their decade-in-the making EESUs imminently and would be in production by the end of 2009. That date came and went without a press release or proof of function.  Though on Earth Day 2009, EEStor announced its powder had met permittivity milestone goals.

By late 2009 Zenn announced it was shutting down electric car production entirely to instead focus on producing EESU-powered drivetrains that it would begin selling to large automakers, in an Intel-inside like scenario. Since 2006 Zenn had been producing and selling low speed electric neighborhood vehicles. At this point Zenn has announced they closed their production facility, sold off the last of their inventory and laid-off 15 plant related employees.

At last month’s Zenn Annual General Meeting, Clifford and company revealed no details but still made the claim there were no technological hurdles and that EEStor-powered ZENNergy drivetrain systems would be on their way. They also claimed sufficient cash and low enough burn rate to sustain them through 2010.

New reports also claim EEStor founder Dick Weir has just stated in an interview “People say we’re late. We’re not late! Zenn put out some things but we didn’t authorize those statements.”

Will this or could this technology ever see the light of day?

High level GM sources have just recently told GM-Volt they tried in earnest to do some fact finding discussion with EEStor but “never got anything substantive from them.”

Others on the EEStor fan site EEStory speculate military contracting powerhouse Lockheed Martin, with whom EEStor has a military application agreement, might be secretly mass-producing the game-changing EESUs at its high security Lufkin facility instead of at EEStor’s strip mall store in Cedar Park Texas.

According to Lockheed spokesperson Craig VenBebber this is not the case either.

“Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control has no plans (nor had any plans) to produce EESUs,” he told GM-Volt.

Further speculation suggest that EESUs may be a secret component of a new electric grid load stabilizing technology Lockheed is developing and calls SEESuite.  Asked if this is technology includes EESUs, VanBebber says “none whatsoever.”

We would all love to see limitless range electric cars powered by cheap indelible US-made super batteries, and it is fair to say hope is still alive, but the world’s patience is wearing thin.


Dec 13

GM Says EEStor-Powered Chevy Volt Would be Possible, if EESU Was



[ad#post_ad]In the field of electric cars, besides the Chevy Volt, another topic has long been of interest to me, as well as many others.

It is the work of a small secretive Cedar Park Texas company called EEStor, Inc.

The company was founded by a man named Dick Weir who has longstanding experience and expertise in computer disc manufacturing.  He partnered with a man named Carl Nelson who has extensive knoweldge and experience with ceramic materials science going back to the 1950s.

Together they invented an entity known as the EESU.  This is a device composed of a scalable array of thousands of specialized supercapacitors.  Those super-capacitors, or components as EEStor calls them, would be manufactured using a specialized material called alumina-coated barium titanate.  This newly fabricated/discovered material has been shown to have a high electrical permittivity (ability to hold electrons) across a wide range of temperature. The number of components dictates the storage potential of the resulting battery. The EV prototype uses 32,000 components and can store 52 kwh.

In theory, these batteries could be built to virtually any size, and could even be used for grid-leveling and in fast-charging stations.

EEStor has partnered with a Canadian company called Zenn Motors who has provided millions of dollars in financial support to EEStor in exchnge for 10% partnership and rights to use the technology in electric vehicles.

Since forming in 2006, Zenn has been a manufacturer of low speed neighborhood electric vehicles.  They just announced they will cease those operations in April 2010 to turn their entire focus on selling EEStor-powered drivetrains, called ZENNergy powertrains to other OEMs.

The only problem is no known EESU has ever been publicly seen or demonstrated.

Furthermore the dates for its revelation have been slipping since late 2007 when it was first publicly promised.  The most recent and intense promise published is that the first devices would be delivered to Zenn this month.

“EEStor has publicly indicated an objective of delivering functional technology to ZMC by the end of the calendar year,” said Zenn spokesperson Catherine Scrimgeour told GM-Volt in October. “ZMC is confident in their ability to meet that objective.”

The world waits.

Why is this so important?

The vehicular EESU would hold 52 kwh of energy, in a package that weighs under 300 pounds, could be recharged in 5 minutes, and would not degrade over time.  The CEO of Zenn even publicly declared recently that 1 million charge-recharge cycles have been achieved in the lab.  More importantly, the EESU could be sold at around $100 per kwh, making it several times cheaper than lithium ion batteries. Thus the EESU would be many times better than lithium-ion batteries in every conceivable way

Too good to be true?  A lot of supercapcitor scientists think so.

“The bottom line on EEStor’s ceramic capacitor energy storage claims is that they are extrapolating linear performance on a parameter (permittivity) that is not linear. I.e. the electric field collapses at high voltage/high electric field strength,” says Ted Bohn, ultracap expert at the Argonne National Lab. “Or in simpler terms, the capacitance of the device is not the same at 6 volts as it is at 6400 volts.”

If EEStor has achieved the breakthrough they claim it could prove extremely disruptive to the lithium ion battery industry rendering them immediately obsolete.  It would replace batteries for cell phones, electronics, military applications, and electric cars including the Volt.

I often mention EEStor to GM executives when I get the chance. I recently asked Volt vehicle line chief Tony Posawatz what he knows about EEStor.

“I have heard a little bit,” he said. “Certainly the press releases are interesting, it causes you to take note and follow it.”

“The guys involved in it certainly aren’t a fly by night operation,” he noted. “Still some of the claims, knowing what I know, are way out there.”

Asked if GM could quickly swap in EESUs if they became available in exchange for the lithium ion cells in future Volts, Posawatz agreed it was possible though added “it would take couple of years.”

Will the world see an EESU by then end of this year?  Only 17 days to find out.


Jul 20

Q&A with Ian Clifford CEO of Zenn Motors: EEStor to Publicly Prove its Technology Imminently


I recently had the chance to interview Ian Clifford who is the CEO of Zenn Motors (ZNN.V).  His company has an agreement to market the breakthrough energy storage units (EESU) being developed by the stealth Texas company EEStor.  Although no-one has ever publicly confirmed seeing an EESU in operation, these devices have the potential to disruptively leapfrog lithium-ion batteries for electric cars.  They are orders of magnitude lighter and energy dense, can be recharged in minutes, do not appreciably degrade and cost a fraction of what lithium-ion batteries do to produce.  The ZENNCity electric car which would be the first vehicle to use these batteries has a 52kwh 250 mile range EESU that would only weigh 280 pounds.

So what’s been going on lately with ZMC and EEStor?
The first event was when EEStor demonstrated their permittivity milestone and then we went through our own independent verification of that particular scientific milestone. And that triggered a couple of things. It triggered our $700,000 payment to make on our technology agreement with EEStor, but it also triggered an option to further extend our equity position with EEStor which we did.

We moved our ownership stake from around 3.8% to around 10.7% and at the same time we also just concluded a 9.3 million dollar equity raise in Zenn Motor Companies. So a lot of different financial and predominantly EEStor-related transactions (occurred) over the last couple of months.

Did the permittivity milestone increase your confidence in EEStor?
Absolutely. According to EEStor it was really the last scientific hurdle achieved and now they’re just flat out working towards commercial product. Absolutely a very very significant step.

As an owner and investor, do you go to EEStor’s facilities and see prototypes?
We are in their facility frequently. We see their progress on a regular basis. We had our own independent third party verification of the permittivity result. We retested all the materials, re-calibrated all the equipment, did a very exhaustive re-verification as it was a significant trigger for us. And a few weeks ago EEStor made the public statement that they anticipate having at-voltage components verified independently by September of this year and deliver of production prototype EESU to us by then end of 2009. That’s directly from EEStor. They made that statement very recently, so it’s very very exciting progress.

EEStor has said that before, even once by the end of 2007, so is this really any different than the last 2 years?
Absolutely. They started their commercial build-out in 2006 and have continued to dramatically ramp up their production capability. Their choice of announcing permittivity was entirely up to them so they made the decision when they felt ready to do that. In terms of progress, the unique thing than Zenn other than Lockheed Martin has is access to the facility and very demonstrative indication of their progress. And we see very clearly where they are at and how they’re progressing. So it’s a somewhat unique visibility that we have on their technology.

Are you seeing an actual assembly line now being constructed?
Absolutely. This is a full production facility here. Often people are saying there is no facility or assembly line, etc this is simply not the case. They’re building a state of the art pilot production plant that is very significant. Lots of people have seen it, it’s not just us.

Is permittivity a value that suggests the material can hold the energy density they claim it can, is that true?
That’s a pretty fair statement. It’s a measurement of capacitance of the material. Once again one of the very significant breakthroughs here is that as a dielectric material there are other materials that have high levels of capacitance but they tend to have very very narrow temperature range, and we had these materials certified from -20 to 65 degrees Celsius. So they’ve created a unique dielectric material and that’s a very very important distinction. It’s a brand new material and it needs to be to meet the energy density and performance characteristics and specifications of their energy storage. They have created a breakthrough unique dielectric material.

You talked about at-voltage testing, in vehicle application are you talking about 300 to 400V?
Actually likely higher than that. EEStor stores their energy at around 3500V. We would step that down to operating voltages likely in the 600 V range. Very very high efficiency drive system operating at much higher voltages than any other current EV drive system. That does a number of things. It increases the drive efficiency, it makes the components somewhat smaller, and ultimately less expensive and obviously for mass commercialization that’s a very important consideration.

So the testing you did was at a low voltage?
It’s a standard permittivity capacitance test on a powder in a matrix. It’s not a high voltage test it is a low voltage test, but EEStor achieved many other important milestones over the past 18 months. Especially directed towards a high voltage energy storage device.
If you read our press release related to permittivity, were very very clear on the other key elements of development that EEStor has achieved in order to commercialize a high voltage capacitor with high energy density.

And as I said before, this September EEStor has stated that they will be certifying at-voltage components which actually are build capacitors off their production facility.

So they’re going to actually demonstrate true truly functioning capacitors, not just a powder?
Exactly. Which has always been their next logical step towards a final commercial product.

In your vehicle you might have a bunch of those capacitors in serial or parallel?

They’ll build up their energy storage devices in parallel, because each component, or building block is very very tiny, it’s a very tiny footprint. It is a 3500 volt capacitor and they will build them up in parallel to create the energy storage requirement that the application calls for.
We can go anywhere. We’ve talked about our cityZenn vehicle with a 52 kwh energy storage device, but we can do anything depending on the market and the application.

Have you actually seen one of the devices functioning?
That gets into the point of non disclosure. Just to be clear, there have not been any production EESUs delivered to us, that’s a very specific milestone, our last milestone is delivery of production equipment. EEStor originally did all of this, their original lab prototyping and everything else a number of years ago. We did our original due diligence back in 2002 and 2003. We were exposed to the original technology then. Right now, we like everyone else are waiting for at voltage components off their production line. And that’s as specific as I will get. And really that’s all that matters.
And right now EEStor has indicated a very very short window of delivery and are working towards that aggressively.

So you said prototypes by the end of the year, but production units not?
No this is a production prototype off of the production line. Once they deliver a production prototype it is a production unit that is production ready.

With all the Recovery Act green grant money, and A123, for example, asking for $1 billion for a battery plant, if this thing is so certain why haven’t you gone out and asked for money to build out a giant EESU plant?
First of all that’s up to EEStor to decide, because we don’t build the EESU. Quite frankly their engineering and deployment costs compared to lithium ion production is so much less, their production facility and ramp up costs are a fraction of lithium-ion. Lithium ion is a very very expensive technology to produce, especially large format. Nobody has really done mass production of large format lithium ion cells yet. Some of the individual pieces of equipment in a lithium ion battery plant cost more than an entire EESU production line. It is much more economical technology to manufacture.

So they can do it with the money they have now?
This initial production facility is fully financed based on the money they got which is great.

What kind of volume in vehicle sper year of EESUs can this plant produce?
In terms of disclosure on that it depends on the size of the EESU obviously.

For the ZENNCity?

We spec’d that at 52 kwh. We may not go to that full size depending on the application as I mentioned. Depending on the market that gives us a250 mile range on a single charge. That’s a lot more than a lot of jurisdictions require. You’ll see. I’m not going to comment on volume right now I know there is a number of analysts who will be covering this story and they will very likely talk about capacity at EEStor. I do not want that information coming from us I’d rather that information come from EEStor directly.

Its very very scalable. Their model which they’ve talked about is they build a relatively small production line which is what is being built now in Austin. They then replicate that line. So they don’t build massive amounts of line. They basically take a small model line and they replicate it over and over and over again to increase volume. And that’s very typical in hard disk manufacturing and other high technology manufacturing which is where Dick Weir and Carl Nelson come from. They’ve been working in that world for decades and they know everything about scalable mass production. Not a big worry from our perspective. They know how to do it, and they’ve got Lockheed Martin involved. They’ve got some really sophisticated people involved in the scaling of the technology, so its not a huge concern for us.

It sounds like the future of your company rides on what they’re doing?

It always has. When I started this company it was all about the significance of energy storage as it related to mass production. It became a matter of choosing the most exciting and viable energy storage possibilities that were out there. We looked at lots of different technologies at the time, and EEStor was by far the most compelling and certainly undoubtedly the most disruptive.

If they start delivering production-grade EESUs by the end of 09, how long will it take for the first ZENN Cities to roll of the line to commercial availability?
Commercial availability is one thing. We’ll have the car powered and demonstrated, and it will probably be a number of different platforms, and applications that well be demonstrating at that time. Our exclusivity covers a broad range of applications including retrofitting any existing 4wheel vehicle. So our intention is to truly demonstrate the breadth of opportunities that the technology represents. We have been for the last 18 months engineering ZEENergy drives and we’ll have a drop in application for what EEStor delivers to us because we’ve been working with them for the same amount of time to make sure what they deliver we can utilize immediately.

Its not going to take 2 minutes, but it will take days as opposed to months to get the demonstrations on line.

So the socket in your car is perfectly configured for the EESU when it arrives?

Exactly. Were building to accept it and their building to fit, that’s always been the intent.

So in 2010 certainly we should be able to see some of this?
Yes, absolutely. It will be clearly be demonstrated around the world in 2010 and commercialization is really jus ta question of how quickly EEStor ramps. We believe well be able to sell everything they can produce. There’s no question there.

How confident are you that this is going to happen?
I made that clear on how I voted with my own money my company’s supportiveness and the amount of support we’ve gotten from the financial community. We’re very confident.


Apr 22

Breaking: EEStor Announces a ‘Huge Milestone’: Relative Permittivity Certified


As a sidebar to the Volt we follow the story of EEStor. This is the Texas-based stealth-mode company that has been working on developing a specialized energy storage unit (EESU) that is somewhat of a cross between a battery and an ultracapacitor. The device uses a specialized chemical powder called barium titanate which is alumina-coated (CMBT) and is theorized to be not only is capable of very high power density, but very high energy density.

The company has an agreement with Zenn Motor Company of Canada to supply these energy storage units for use in electric cars.

What makes these devices so groundbreaking is that if realized, they could potentially hold several times the energy of lithium-ion batteries at a fraction of the cost and weight, and experience no degradation thereby giving them an infinite lifetime. They would also be extremely rapidly rechargeable. The public has been waiting for a demonstration of these devices for years but to date it has not occurred.

Today a very special, long-awaited and per EEStor “huge” milestone was achieved. They report their CMBT powder has been certified as having met or exceeded a relative permittivity of 22,500. This value has to do with the ability of energy storage material to store charge. A large permittivity means the material has a large capacitance, or ability to store charge.

Of course at this point no working prototype has yet been demonstrated, but Zenn continues to report it expects working prototypes.

Michael Bergeron, VP of Engineering of ZENN said “The permittivity results as indicated are beyond the specifications outlined in our technology agreement which is extremely encouraging, we will review these results and expect to announce our findings as soon as they are available.”

“EEStor’s announcement reveals continued progress in developing their Electrical Energy Storage Unit,” said Ian Clifford, CEO of ZENN. “We remain focused on fulfilling our cityZENN and ZENNergyTM drivetrain programs, the first implementations of EEStor’s EESU.

Full EEStor Press Release:

CEDAR PARK, Texas, April 22 /PRNewswire/ — EEStor, Inc. announces relative permittivity certification of their Composition Modified Barium-Titanate powders. The third party certification tests were performed by Texas Research International’s Dr. Edward G. Golla, PhD., Laboratory Director. He has certificated that EEStor’s patented and patent pending Composition Modified Barium-Titanate Powders have met and/or exceeded a relative permittivity of 22,500.

EEStor feels this is a huge milestone which opens the advancement of key products and services in the electrical energy storage markets of today. The automotive and renewable energy sectors are a few of the key markets that would benefit greatly with the technology.

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