The mystery guy at follows the EEStor trail with considerable determination and more than a dab of good sense. Last week saw Zenn, the Canadian mini car manufacturer, who is in for an investment in EEStor, plus more when certain milestones are met had an announcement of sorts out that sent their stock off on a gain based on the permittivity results they are talking about over at EEStor. EEStor itself is still mostly silent.

So the significance of the talk is at issue. Which might have been a good idea before everyone went off bidding for stock. We overlooked it here while lots of others had a great day with blogs, articles and stories. Sort of waiting to see what the steak is really like.

Monday saw post some intelligible comments about the past week’s event with a little (very little, but spot on) science behind it. It seems that in the capacitor world of solid ceramics, which is what EEStor is working on, the fundamentals of energy density in the volume and specific energy by the mass aren’t answered yet. These two measures are often seen when discussing batteries and apply in near unison to capacitors. They are the basics of “how many electrons do you have there?” questions.

Permittivity as a property of a material is not itself sufficient to ascertain whether or not it will deliver the claimed energy storage. It’s a critical measure, sort of a flow rate kind of thing, but doesn’t reveal the total power that can be stored. But its critical importance is that over the operating range of the working environment, the permittivity is very important indeed. When cold or hot or in the middle- if the permittivity disappears, well, the thing isn’t worth much.

The guy at asked Catherine Scrimgeour for help with that and in the process recorded her take on the announcement. She described permittivity as being comparable to a sandwich, with permittivity the bun with the toppings and meat of storage properties coming afterwards. Close enough if well almost misleading in vagueness. Then the bariumtitanate.blogspot author reached out to Brian Cott and found him to be unusually pleased and characterized him as extremely happy, confident and even a little bit relieved. In the course of the conversation the storage matters came up and Cott “insisted” yes, he was happy.

The conundrum is that permittivity tests are done on a standard for any material. That makes sense, as all comparable materials would need a baseline with which to be compared.

Now the story becomes a story. The bariumtitanate.blogspot author wrote, “that possibly Golla (Dr. Ed Golla, who independently performed the permittivity tests) tested permittivity across multiple temperatures and that the permittivity remained stable which would be a big scientific validation of a set of EEStor’s claims. As luck would have it, EEStor skeptic and competitor Rudyard Istvan sent me an email 10 minutes later offering to comment on the press release. I spoke with him at length and he described what would be the standard set of tests related to permittivity. In his view, which is shared by every skeptic familiar with the science, permittivity in itself is not a measurement that establishes anything of significance since materials with this property have been found previously. The problem is the permittivity in them never stays stable across a wide range of temperatures or voltages. Due to the prior email from a user, I asked Istivan to talk about the significance of a measurement of permittivity across temperature ranges. He confirmed that it would be a major breakthrough:

B: Why is it important if the temperature changes and the permittivity stays stable?

RI: Because that would mean that it is not a Y5V class ceramic. It would be a new material. Something that is not reported anywhere in the literature.

B: Why, is that an indicator of the material’s ability to hold up with voltage being applied to it?

RI: That is correct. Typically as permittivity of a ceramic dielectric goes up, increases, the temperature coefficient gets worse and the voltage coefficient gets worse. The parts (capacitor materials) that have the lowest voltage and temperature coefficients, almost none, also have a permittivity on the order of 80-100-120 something like that. As the permittivity gets higher, you typically see both of these things occurring at different rates for different materials. If you don’t have as much of a temperature coefficient, it means you’re not going to have as much of a voltage coefficient if the material is like any other ceramic in the whole world. And it means you’ve discovered a whole new class of materials even if it’s a composite material. There’s nothing like that in the scientific literature anywhere that I can discover.

Istivan went on to provide 4 references in scientific literature, which describe this well known relationship between temperature and voltage coefficients of Y5V ceramic material permittivities.

Next the bariumtitanate.blogspot author got back with Dr. Golla and learned that he did in fact test permittivity at multiple temperatures. The temperatures haven’t been disclosed but with great sensible certainty the temps are in ranges that will be seen in prospective working environments or nearly so as to minimize temperature management. The bariumtitanate.blogspot author wrote, “ (I) inform(ed) Golla that the point of testing a(t) multiple temperatures was less related to ruggedization issues and much more related to establishing that a new material has been discovered. There was a long pause. I informed Golla that if his measurements across temperature ranges revealed stability, then this would represent a major breakthrough as described by Rudyard Istivan. Again, a long pause. Golla then asked for literature documenting that this was the more fundamental purpose of measuring the materials in these ways. Golla indicated that the measurements at multiple temperatures would only be released with EEStor’s permission.

That makes the news out last week based in some measure of performance across a temperature range that has some kind of real world applicability. Just what the performance is – isn’t being stated, which at this moment is beginning to seem like lawyer paranoia. EEStor must be getting close or if they’re not the lawyer paranoia would make sense.

In any case Zenn and Lockheed Martin plus only EEStor knows who else has a firm idea of the performance.

This puts a little sense under the stock price enthusiasm last week. It also raises the stakes. The EEStor technology has managed in secrecy to do what many strategists would avoid – set an expectation that cannot be met.

But not here. Without hard performance data it’s interesting pie in the sky. Hope pie no doubt, but most university press releases have more meat in them than EEStor has out.

Truthfully, if not for the bombardment of Google searches looking for EEStor information, I’d wait and look into other things. But EEStor has just enough information out to seed speculation and the story for anyone without a Non Disclosure Agreement is just that – a story.

I expect it will come true. But I’m girding for a disappointment as the expectations now might be far past the performance. So temper that enthusiasm. That way if EEStor is the breakthrough, you can enjoy the thrill.


3 Comments so far

  1. Joel Sapp on May 1, 2009 4:57 AM

    Great balanced article. Lets see what happens from here.

  2. Matt on May 1, 2009 6:14 AM

    Clearly what EESTOR is doing is taking a lab discovery and turning it into major new commercial enterprise. This is comparable though a great deal more technologically difficult than introducing the Incandescent LightBulb.

  3. salle on December 13, 2010 9:03 AM

    Excellent brief and this article helped me alot. Say thank you I looking for your information….

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