EEStor partners with Lockheed Martin; Topfer returns

Well, well, well… finally some news on the EEStor front. The Cedar Park, Texas-based energy storage startup announced today is has signed an agreement with defense contractor Lockheed Martin. The agreement gives Lockheed “exclusive international rights” to “integrate and market Electrical Energy Storage Units (EESU) from EEStor Inc. for military and homeland security applications.”

Cool. According to Glenn Miller, vice-president of technical operations and applied research at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, “The EEStor energy storage technology provides potential solutions for the demanding requirements for energy in military and homeland defense applications.”

I’ll compare notes later to see if EEStor is watering down the claims of its EESU units, but in the press release is described the technology as having “10 times the energy density of lead acid batteries at one-tenth the weight and volume.” That seems consistent. It also said it would be “half the price per stored watt-hour than traditional battery technologies.”

Now the kicker: “EESU qualification testing and mass production at EEStor’s facility in Cedar Park is planned for late 2008.”

It’s later than we all expected, but “late 2008” at least gives us something new to measure the company by. Besides, it appears the late 2008 applies just to Lockheed, according to one source close to EEStor. ZENN Motors, according to the source, “expects delivery before Lockheed Martin as the existing plant is exclusively for ZENN production.”

In related news, the company announced that former Dell Computer vice-chair Morton Topfer has joined EEStor’s board of directors, which I find odd given he was previously on the board and then left.

But who cares. This news is important, just because of the credibility it brings to EEStor and what it’s trying to do. As many have commented on this blog and others, delays are expected when you’re trying to introduce a technology with such a disruptive potential. This exclusive agreement with Lockheed tells us there’s enough potential there that this defense contracting giant — and perhaps the U.S. government — doesn’t want the technology to fall into its competitors’ hands. What would be more interesting is to find out the terms of this deal, which were not disclosed. Has Lockheed made an investment in EEStor? Has Kleiners upped the ante? Who else is on the board?

Lots of unanswered questions, but increased confidence now that they’ll be answered over time.

UPDATE: Great interview here on the GM-Volt blog site. The author interviewed Lockheed’s Lionel Liebman, manager of program development related to missiles and fire control. I had a chance to interview Liebman as well, and the company appears quite committed to this partnership (though I should point out Lockheed has not yet seen a working prototype).