Since it’s been all-too-quiet on the EEStor front, I figured I’d at least draw attention to the company’s latest patent approval — this one titled “Systems and Methods for Utility Grid Power Averaging, Long Term Uninterruptible Power Supply…”
A link to the patent, which was just approved a few days ago by the U.S. patent office, can be found here at the TheEEStory.com. EEStor and ZENN appear to be in complete lock down — no information is flowing from either. I’ve being hearing chatter in the investment community that EEStor has run into some technical (not financial) trouble, but then again, I’ve been hearing this kind of chatter for the past few years since I wrote my first feature on the company in the Toronto Star. I tried to arrange a visit to EEStor’s headquarters in Cedar Park, Texas, for some time this summer. I wanted to gather some information for a book I’m working on that will be released next fall, but Weir — despite my offer to sign a non-disclosure — wouldn’t allow it. He wished me luck and said he doesn’t want or need the attention. (The book, by the way, isn’t just about EEStor, but EEStor will represent a chapter in it. The book will be about barriers to energy innovation… stay tuned).
The explanation in the patent of how an EESU could benefit the grid is pretty straight forward, so this is really no surprise. But it’s nice to see the company beginning to accumulate a sizable stockpile of patents to protect its IP. Despite the silence out of Cedar Park (and Toronto), I do find it interesting that there are some other ventures hot on EEStor’s heels, just as Weir was expecting. On April 29, for example, the U.S. Department of Energy announced funding as part of its ARPA-E program. One recipient of funding was venture spun out of Penn State University called Recapping Inc., which received $1 million.
“Recapping Inc. and researchers at Pennsylvania State University will seek to develop a novel energy storage device based on a 3D nanocomposite structure with functional oxides that provide a very high effective capacitance. The basic fabrication of the dielectric materials and devices will utilize traditional multilayer ceramic fabrication methods that will provide a cost-effective alternative to battery solutions, with the added benefits of exploiting mechanisms that could maintain higher cycling and possibly deliver charge with high power density. This technology hopes to create a cyclable and economically competitive energy storage device that will catalyze new, related cleantech industries and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases and oil imports,” according to the DOE’s description of what Recapping is doing. Notably, who’s the only executive of Recapping Inc.? That would be Alex Kinnier of Khosla Ventures. I tried to contact Kinnier, who wouldn’t talk but said to come back in 12 months.