EEStor passes testing milestone

This just in on the wire. EEStor Inc. says the automated production line built for its new energy storage system “has been proven to meet the requirements for precise chemical delivery, purity control, parameter control and stability.”

The company continues by saying it has completed the initial milestone of certifying the purification, concentration and stability of its key production chemicals, “notably the attainment of 99.9994 per cent purity of its barium nitrate powder.”

The company said the independent third-party testing and analysis was done by Southwest Research Institute Inc. in San Antonio, Texas. It said that with these milestones completed it can now move on to producing its barium titanate powders (on its production line) and powder certification.

Here’s the kicker: The first commercial application of the EESU is intended to be used in electric vehicles under a technology agreement with ZENN Motors Company. EEStor, Inc. remains on track to begin shipping production 15 kilowatt-hour Electrical Energy Storage Units (EESU) to ZENN Motor Company in 2007 for use in their electric vehicles. The production EESU for ZENN Motor Company will function to specification in operating environments as sever as negative 20 to plus 65 degrees Celsius, will weigh less than 100 pounds, and will have ability to be recharged in a matter of minutes.

Perhaps most impressive with the release is that EEStor is now out of the closest and talking about its technology. This is important, because it means it is confident enough to publicly defend the nature and performance of its breakthrough. Hopefully we’ll get more updates like this as the year progresses. It seems as though ZENN Motor Co. (formerly Feel Good Cars) will serve as the initial test market for the real-life performance of these systems.

My big question is, wouldn’t these systems have to go through some kind of major safety review and certification before being installed in commercially available vehicles? Either way, an important step that we’ll all be watching very closely and with great hope and expectations.

Government cleantech announcement: yawn

As I suspected the Harper government is throwing a bit more money at cleantech R&D and demonstration, with a focus on “key priorities that include carbon dioxide sequestration, clean coal, clean oil sands production and renewable energy.” Notice how renewable energy is the last one mentioned.

The commitment? A not so whopping $230 million invested over four years in a program called the ecoEnergy Technology Initiative. What’s not clear is whether this will be part of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (created by the Liberals), how the money will be invested, and whether the money is actually new or part of SDTC’s existing budget.

SDTC, which began allocating funds in April 2002, began with a budget of $550 million. So far it has funded nine rounds and allocated $241 million. The rest will be allocated by 2010, working out to an average of $61 million a year. Of interest is that SDTC funds projects on a 1:2 basis, meaning for every dollar SDTC invests $2 must come from the private sector/industry.

What the Conservatives announced today equals $57.5 million a year. So, if it is merely announcing money that SDTC already has, then, this is a pathetic announcement. If it’s new money, then that would amount to a doubling of clean investment over the next four years — not bad, but not necessarily enough.

So either way, I find this announcement underwhelming.

UPDATE: The Conservatives say they won’t provide details of how this $230 million will be allocated until April (likely after an election, surprise, surprise). They have hinted it will likely be invested as part of some public-private partnerships, which is the approach SDTC is taking. That said, a source at SDTC told me their budget remains in tact and completely separate from this announcement, so the $230 million appears so far to be *new* money. But again, we won’t know details until April.