A short story on EEStor appeared today on MIT’s Technology Review site. A few thoughts to walk away with:
1) The company has certified that its equipment and procedures can make the materials it needs to go into high-volume production of its ceramic ultracapacitor.
2) It took longer than expected to get to this stage because EEStor raised the bar on its production standards so it could develop production materials for mission-critical applications — i.e. military stuff.
3) Voltage breakdown concerns have been addressed, primarily thanks to the alumina that coats and seals the composition-modified barium titanate.
4) Beyond materials and powder production, the rest — i.e. component and EESU manufacturing — is relatively simple, at least compared to disk drive manufacturing.
5) EEStor is also having serious talks with solar and wind companies regarding the use of EESUs in grid-scale storage applications.
Now, some other stuff that Weir said during an interview that wasn’t in the Tech Review article:
6) Weir is keeping the name EEStor, despite rumours it might change. He said the brand recognition now is too great to let it go.
7) Weir’s relationship with Lockheed Martin runs deeper than first thought. “Who’s best at certifying what we’ve got? Lockheed,” said Weir. “They’ve seen our factory. I’ve been working with them since 2001.”
8) It seems that Lockheed may be an investor in EEStor. I come to this conclusion by this statement: “We told our investors we can do it better, and we did.” Weir made this statement when explaining the reason why they took an extra year to meet its certification milestones for “advanced technologies,” such as military applications. Not sure ZENN or Kleiners, the only known investors, have demanded such higher standards. Obviously, if Lockheed and its demands are the source of this delay, then it’s reasonable to assume its partnership with EEStor is also in the form of an investment. “We fully plan to do a major expansion on this to meet anybody’s requirement as we go forward,” he said.
9) Weir said the production lines will be modular and highly robotic.
10) A corporate Web site will go up once the components are being manufactured.
11) He hinted that he was expecting competitors to challenge EEStor, and that his advantage will be the ability to move quickly and stay several steps ahead. “If we get challenged, we’ll move to scale up,” he said. “We have a lot of knowledge built up.”
I truly got the sense that Weir is going to start talking more about this company, probably come this fall. But I also got the sense EEStor is more heavily involved with Lockheed than originally thought — i.e. there’s a big focus here on developing military applications using the technology. He called what he’s working on as “Manhattan II.” It makes sense, given that many great technological innovations have trickled down from work originally done at the military level — GPS, the Internet, nuclear power.
Anyway, food for thought. Thanks, Dick, for the update.