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Capacitor Veteran Expands Upon EEStor Fascination

Attention enthusiastic EEStor Skeptics. Jim Kofman has a message for you.  Debate all things EEStor vigorously but cross the line into libel and you will suffer consequences.  Kofman:  "We are going to take very seriously people who make inflammatory or libelous comments and they should be aware that we are not going to just sit there and take it."  In my conversation this afternoon with John Galvagni and Jim Kofman, this issue seemed to bubble up somewhat near the top.  At the same time, Kofman was admittedly pleased that recent comments from the blog (from PeterP originally) had identified a mistake which Zenn quickly set out to correct.  Kofman stressed that he encourages scientific debate but he's not going to moderate or squelch it. He will however help the lost learn that there are limits.  "Anyone who accuses us of inappropriate conduct better be ready because I'm not afraid to defend my reputation and the reputation of the board. "  Kofman went on to point out that his major goal, in addition to inducing EEStor to produce viable technology was simply to disclose current status and bring transparency to the project.  I'll delve further into the skeptic challenges a little later in the article. 
[NOTE: Provided with a draft for accuracy, Kofman wanted to note that eschewing libel is a secondary motivation while promoting discussion and debate is a primary one. ]
For my part, I can confirm that the only constraint Kofman placed on the interview today was to limit discussion of futures.  His reasoning is pretty simple and reflects his philosophy for running Zenn. He wants to preside over increased EEStor transparency and only declare what has been proven, revealed and certified rather than what has been speculated, promised or predicted.  With those ground rules, my main goal was to see what I could learn from John Galvagni, a 40 year capacitor industry veteran.  I was very pleased with the results. 
Before I could issue my first question, Galvagni wanted to begin with a preliminary remark to point out that his position as a capacitor veteran relative to Dick Weir is a strange one because although Weir is thankful to talk with someone in the field, he's likely to be at the same time suspicious of losing IP to someone in a great position to replicate it.  In addition to this remark, it bears repeating that Galvagni was originally a substantial contributor to the history of EEStor skepticism having spent a decent portion of 4 years participating with the rest of us in dissecting everything EEStor.  Accordingly, it seemed fitting to begin my interview by asking Galvagni to describe the point at which his St. Paul conversion began. Galvagni:
It was probably during the tour when I recognized that a lot of thought had gone into assembling everything. I truly expected to see a lot of glassware and other lab apparatus and all that kind of prototype sample stuff that we would have in our lab when we generated a liquid processing path to a barium titanate.  But instead Dick obviously took advantage of his background in the semiconductor industry which typically has a lot cleaner and a lot more precise ways to do things than the classic ceramic industry.  It was at that point that I understood that he had something special.
I wanted to know if Galvagni's participation in helping bring EEStor's validation public was ongoing or over.  Galvagni was quick to answer that he hoped it would be ongoing "because it is pretty exciting."  I asked why since what has been disclosed sounds like incremental improvement over current ceramic industry specs.  He responded:
I understand what you're saying but this isn't just normal ceramic capacitor industry stuff. What he has shown us, and this is in the reports, is that he's got an amazing versatility of materials and parameters. All the way from his paraelectric CMBT up through some of the polymer studies that he's made that have got permittivities in the millions. I'm confident that somewhere in the combination of those 3, 4 or 5 components that he may have, that he's going to have something special.
This seemed like a good time to bring up the remarks Weir shared with me in our last conversation, which I elected not to publish until verifying with Galvagni.  Weir told me that Galvagni was amazed by Weir's accomplishments.  Galvagni told me today that this was a fair characterization. Amazed
Since Galvagni has worked as a crossover from academic research to industrial application for several capacitor improvements, I asked him to compare Dick Weir's research & development competence to other's he's experienced in the capacitor industry.  Galvagni:
He certainly is up there with unique researchers. The fact that he was able to take advantage of his semiconductor background and Carl's ceramic background is a combination that I had seldom seen. And you've read before for example the paper that I wrote together with Joe Dougherty at Penn State and we talked about the combination of ceramic with polymers.  I also worked with Georgia Tech in that same area.  What Dick has is very different from what they had.  And you know, we can talk about the Gazillion permittivities but the point is that they really have not become commercial. 
I reminded Galvagni that many EEStor skeptics have painted Weir as an amateur making amateur mistakes in ceramics and capacitor manufacturing.  Kofman interjected and helped clarify the question for Galvagni, "Does Weir's work look like an amateur approach or is it a well thought out professional approach?"  Galvagni said it was "without a question a professional approach."  At that point, I wanted to know if it had generated any discussion in the industry.  Galvagni laughed and then said yes, definitely many people had contacted him but were turned away because he told them he couldn't comment on anything that wasn't part of his report.  But he said he is certain it "has raised a few eyebrows."
What was his biggest surprise vetting EEStor's technology?  Galvagni said that's like asking him which of his children is his favorite.  I said, ok, throw out your top 3 or 4.  CapMan:
Overall cleanliness. Highly specific and precise semiconductor fabrication system for the CMBT. The various other equipments that I know were appropriate for what he was trying to do. The polymer capability that he had.  That's a short list. 
Galvagni said he does remain fascinated by the possibilities of EEStor.  As for EEStor's obstacles to commercialization, Galvagni said he needs to see evidence that dissipation factor and leakage current are addressed.  If they aren't, would EEstor's technology be worthless? He couldn't confirm that but he did remind me that he never claimed for himself that title of dielectric theorist and admitted that he would defer to those skilled in the field for such questions.  For example, Rud Istvan. 
Kofman pointed out that his board and Zenn's management had nothing to hide.  As for Istvan, Kofman says he is "distrustful of him because he is a competitor and has a lot to gain by our demise. He is not a shareholder."  As for skeptics in general, Kofman reports that Zenn is going to be more proactive and the early results from this approach seem to be bearing fruit.  He said he is having conversations with the chief vocal skeptics and their questions have been put in front of Weir "who is not afraid to answer the questions. Whether he's right or wrong, we'll see. But he's not unaware of the questions and we are not unaware . We've certainly had many a chance to say here's what people say, what's your response? "
I'm going to take a few more of Kofman's comments and combine them with some remarks I gathered from Dick Weir in a follow up article I hope to publish tomorrow.  In addition to this interview overview, have a gander at some written responses Zenn provided to me in advance of my interview today.  This is an obligatory occasional nod to those who hate my articles in favor of raw data. 

1)    The reports and releases appear to mention the permittivity of CMBT & permittivity of polymers. But EEStor's end product must incorporate both CMBT & polymers.  What is the significance of calling out the permittivity of constituents if the composite of both is what EEStor is working to deliver to the market?  Are you suggesting that these powders have commercial value due solely to their permittivity and regardless of their contribution to energy density measurements? 


I believe that the high permittivity of both the CMBT and the polymer will give more leeway for EEStor to adjust its matrix and increase resistivity while maintaining acceptably high levels of permittivity.  This will be important in the goal of reducing dissipation and leakage current and achieving a commercially relevant level of energy density.  That being said there is not yet sufficient data from EEStor to give us insight into whether the high permittivity can be maintained as voltage is increased.  Based on what I have seen to date I do believe CMBT currently being produced by EEStor has commercial potential.  JG


2)  You mention a "new sample" with permittivity of 11,300 and voltage up to 750 volts.   What were the physical dimensions of this sample?  Is it safe to conclude it would have been at a minimum equal in size to the original sample you observed with a permittivity of 1000?   As you know, I recently interviewed Dick Weir and asked him about this sample of 11,300 and he said he is way beyond that in his ongoing development. 


As mentioned in my report I did not test these layers so I am not able to provide further insight.  JG

3) On your Oct 12 visit, you state the integrator was under repair but you also include two tables of test results you observed on what appears to be 8 samples with seemingly enormous permittivity.  To test these, you brought along known working caps calibrated by lab. [Analogy] If I have an object shorter than 50ft, most tape measures work pretty well.  But if I'm working with objects whose dimensions measure in miles or tens of miles, is the tape measure the right instrument to record the measurements? [/Analogy]  Is there any chance the high permittivity readings are grossly inaccurate or is it your point to simply point out that the samples greatly exceed known materials....and whose exact properties are difficult to ascertain until calibrated measurement instruments can be identified?


As mentioned in my report I brought capacitors with me whose characteristics were well known to me.  I was able to test these capacitors as well as EEStor's layers.    The EEStor layers had a capacitance of 30-40 uF which was well within the range of the samples I had brought.  So the capacitance bridge was testing over a similar range.  The important point is that the EEStor layers that were producing these results were a fraction of the physical size of what I brought with me.  So similar reading from a much smaller object.  Accordingly, I don't think your analogy is applicable.  JG


4)  What is the meaning of the phrase "Targeted Product Level Concentration of CMBT?"  If the energy density of these samples does not achieve 700wh/liter as per Zenn's tech agreement with EEStor, does that mean the product will not work?


The phrase is one EEStor uses to describe the level of CMBT in its layers.  It considers the actual number proprietary and has not shared it with me.  I am not going to speculate on your next question. JG

 5) Critics have pointed out that high permittivity does not always equate to energy density since polarization of some materials only occurs at low field strength.  In your report, you seem to suggest or possibly ignore this point.   


I do not agree with your point.  Indeed in my report I make it very clear that the high permittivity that has been achieved by EEStor does not guarantee energy density. Only actual results will answer the question.  JG

6) If eestor releases a sample in the coming weeks whose energy density is confirmed to be no more than 500wh/liter, would you have enough data to estimate the amount of time it would take for them to produce a component with 700wh/liter?


I only wish to answer questions as to what was actually in my report and not to speculate further. JG


7) Dick Weir told me that John G said many complementary things about Weir's pilot production line and facilities. One thing was apparently that John indicated that in his 40yrs of experience with capacitor factories, he had never seen an operation like EEStor's and was completely amazed.   Could you share any of the comments you shared with Dick Weir?  Why are you amazed?   Or how would you characterize what you said to Weir about his operation?


There are several impressive things about his facility. The facility itself is immaculate, especially when compared to similar facilities in the capacitor manufacturing world I came from.  All mixing and proportioning is under strict computer control.  There are multiple chemical stainless steel feed lines going through the electronically controlled metering devices, into the reaction vessel. It is the same with the polymer/cmbt mixing area. The neatness and cleanliness of the entire facility show great care in the engineering and execution.  What I told Dick was that it made other CMBT prep areas I have seen look like alchemy. One cannot tell in most facilities whether precise electronic ceramics are being formulated or dinner plates.  JG 

8)_______________ (a 2007 PHD from ________________) has read your report and has asserted that even granting Weir all benefits of the doubt, the energy density of any device of the type EESor is pursuing can not, by the laws of physics exceed 200J/cc.  Are you familiar enough with________'s assertions to offer an opinion as to why he may be or is likely wrong?  Incidentally, _________ has also maintained that EEStor is an ongoing fraud.  


I am familiar with Dr. ___________ and his provocative comments regarding EEStor.  I am not going to get drawn into the Dr. ___________'s questions and comments other than to say EEStor has impressive facilities and I believe they are working hard to produce a product with attractive energy density characteristics.  I do not say in my report that they will or will not achieve their goal.  I point out the advancements I have been able to observe and what I haven't been able to see.  EEStor appears to me to be taking a number of novel approaches. As I have said many times, only real results will answer the questions as to whether new science has been achieved.  In the meantime I expect the scientific debate will continue and that is positive. JG


9) Dr. __________, helps lead the Circuits & Systems Group within ________ College _______.  Like, ________, he does not think EEStor can deliver a part with energy density over 200J/cc.   He admits EEStor may have something of commercial value but he is  puzzled by a few things.  He asks, " Why do EEStor consider the very high k values from polymer layers to be relevant? What advantage does EEStor consider ultra-high-k polymer has over conducting polymer in forming CMBT-polymer mixtures?"  I think really what ______ is asking is why does John Galvagni think this. 


For the first part of your question or comment see my answer in 8 above.  For the second part unfortunately the answer to that is really something EEStor would have to provide.  I have my theories, but they are just that for now.  JG


_________ also asserts that Galvagni is not familiar with "high-k polymer dielectrics" such as those described in J. Chem. Phys. 66, 4031 (1977) Nomadic polarization in quasi-one-dimensional solids"

Is this research relevant to characterizing whether or not EEStor is traversing novel new ground? 


Since my report has been published I have had a number of reports sent to me.  The key point I want to repeat as someone who has come from industry, not academia, is that there is a difference between what is achieved in a laboratory environment and in a plant that is set up for production.  I take the point that others have written of high permittivity results.  I have not seen any such results transferred to a commercial environment on a consistent basis.  Dr._____ is right to point out the prior achievements and in retrospect my report ought to have noted this.  JG


10) Rudyard Istvan of Nanocarbons LLC is a long time critic of EEStor inc.  Prior to your report, he held you up as a person whose opinion of EEStor should be carefully considered due to your background and experience.  After your report, he still maintains that EEStor has "zero chance" of achieving their goals.  He has admitted to being both a competitor of EEStor but also at one point shorted Zenn's stock.  Do the concerns expressed by persons such as Istvan have any credibility with you?


There is no point responding to comments from a competitor and who is not a shareholder of the Company.  ZNN


11) What is the estimated size of the markets mentioned in the 4 levels of possible commercial value listed in the report?


We will leave it to analysts and others to formulate views on this.  ZENN is focused on its core market, vehicles.  ZNN


12) Dick Weir recently indicated a release from EEStor could occur in 3-4 weeks.  Is it your view that all of the gear required for such a test is in place and ready to go?  Would the independent 3rd party be ready in that time? Or would testing gear need to be developed/calibrated in advance?  What are some possible sources of delay that would put such a quick timeline in jeopardy?  Who is the 3rd party testing organization?


Again, I can only comment on what is in my report, not what might happen next.  JG 


13) In a post-energy density released world, how will Zenn handle communications with interested parties both customers and investors?  Is there a plan and if so, what can you say about it?


Same answer as 12 above.   ZNN


14) For John G--was my previous article comparing your views as a conversion similar to Paul's in any way inaccurate or misleading? Would you change anything?


I would rather not specifically comment on it, other than say it was well written.  JG



You probably thought this article is now complete. Guess again, because this article ends with a little bonus document which depicts the latest EEStor financing terms.  This was provided to me by someone who declined to participate in the latest round.  The reader shall come to their own conclusions about meaning and significance of it.  It appears to have an undisclosed date with penalties for missing. 


Views: 4725

Comment by Hammer on November 13, 2012 at 10:00am

Thanks B: Re the term sheet .... is Wilson, Sonsini still associated w/ Kleiner Perkins?

Comment by Y_Po on November 13, 2012 at 10:13am

Whole lot of nothing.

Comment by jlucia on November 13, 2012 at 10:17am

B: Thank you for the update

Comment by heeman on November 13, 2012 at 10:32am

Thanks B

Comment by Y_Po on November 13, 2012 at 10:35am

So, nobody asked Weir about these samples in the patent, what happened to them, were it cats or dogs who ate them?

Comment by Brian on November 13, 2012 at 10:52am
It looks like the law firm has done deals with/for KPCB
Comment by Mark LG on November 13, 2012 at 11:05am

B, magnificent work and it's free for all of us. We're not worthy! Thank you! Please sign me up for an autographed copy of your book. 

Comment by Shere Khaan on November 13, 2012 at 11:19am

Thanks B for another fine write up!

Comment by B on November 13, 2012 at 11:21am

What's the matter, Po?  Too many blanks in the article?

Comment by Y_Po on November 13, 2012 at 11:46am

Here is shorter version of this interview:

Kofman: transparrency! I'll sue you! Did I say "transparrency"?!

Capman: Amazing! what does this shiny thing do? Amazing! you have computers! amazing!


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