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.
A group of researchers at the Seoul National University have discovered a way to take material from cigarette butts and turn it into a carbon-based material thats ideal for storing energy and creating a powerful supercapacitor.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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