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.
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
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