A government-industry project to invent a practical battery for electric vehicles is trying to do too much too soon. So concludes a study by a committee of the National Research Council. The U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) was formed in 1991 as an R&D project of the Department of Energy and the three major U.S. automakers. The purpose was to provide increased range and improved performance for electric vehicles "in the latter part of the 1990s." No technology has yet fully met even the midterm goals, the report says, because USABC had "an overly ambitious schedule imposed by regulatory requirements." (See "Nation's charge to electric cars stalls" in this issue.) For copies of "Effectiveness of the United States Advanced Battery Consortium as a Government-Industry Partnership" phone National Academy Press at (800) 624-6242.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.