automakers had been dis-mantling some of the biggest barriers to entering the business

Remember the lowly car battery? That greasy thing with corroding terminals, universally ignored until it runs out of juice? It’s being 07G016DH1875 ignored no longer. With the advent of plug-in hybrids and electric cars like the Tesla Roadster and the Lightning GT, the battery is now taking center stage.

A new generation of batteries -– safer, cleaner and far more powerful -– is beginning to emerge, batteries that can meet the demanding A42-G73 requirements of cars propelled by electricity.

Caddell leads the way to one of the shipping containers. Inside, two soldiers baby-sit three rows of Sun servers. “This is where the Global Command and Control System lives,” Caddell says. GCCS – known as “Geeks” to soldiers in G73-52 the field – is the military’s HAL 9000.

It’s an umbrella system that tracks every friendly tank, plane, ship, and soldier in the world in real time, plotting their positions as they move on a digital map. It can also show enemy locations gleaned from intelligence. “We’re in a whole different ball game from 70-NY81B1000Z the last Gulf war,” Caddell says. “We had a secure network back in ’91, but the bandwidth wasn’t there and the applications weren’t there. Now they are.”

At this point, using batteries for large-scale storage isn’t feasible, Duvall said. That’s not to say there isn’t work being done in this area. Southern California Edison is launching a $54.9 million project to build and test a 32-megawatt-hour system that 90-NY81B1000Y would store wind power at a substation in the Tehachapi Mountains. “That’s the outer limit of what we know right now about lithium-ion technology,” Duvall said.

Automakers plan to recycle those batteries that aren’t robust enough for stationary energy storage. Lithium-ion batteries are not toxic like lead-acid batteries, Duvall said. In fact, the 2- and 4 kilowatt-hour packs that Zero Motorcycles uses are rated for landfill disposal. Lithium-ion batteries contain many valuable materials, including copper, aluminum and, of course, lithium. Much of it can be recycled.

Despite the dour prediction, the report predicts steady growth for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs during the next decade. It predicts 26 percent of the 54.5 million cars sold in China, Japan, the United States and Western Europe in 2020 will have an electric drivetrain of some kind.

That works out to 14 million cars. By that time, the report predicts, lithium-ion batteries will run about $570 to $700 per kilowatt-hour, with a 15 kilowatt-hour pack running about $8,000 to $10,000. At that price, Mosquet says, it will take 15 years for the cost of owning an electric car to match that of a gasoline car.

Paul Scott, a co-founder of the advocacy group Plug In America, agrees. He says reports like those prepared by Boston Consulting Group often overlook the fact oil isn’t getting any cheaper, people are increasingly concerned about the environment and they’re tired of buying oil from countries hostile to the United States.

If Li-ion technology is at, or even near, its maximum potential, gadget makers (and users) are in trouble. Li-ion – with its high power, fast recharge times, and steady voltage – is the best battery the consumer electronics industry has. It powered the 50 million laptops, 800 million cell phones, and 80 million digital cameras sold in 2005. If the technology stagnates without a viable replacement, so will every kind of portable device, from ThinkPads to Game Boys.

Meanwhile, automakers had been dis-mantling some of the biggest barriers to entering the business. To lower production costs, the Big Three had outsourced much of their parts manufacturing over the past 25 years. An upstart could buy just about everything it needed to mass-produce a car from independent suppliers. A fledgling electric car company had other advantages, too: Tighter emissions standards have raised the cost of developing gas-powered cars, and buyers of low-emission vehicles are lured by big tax breaks.

In the spring of 2004, Eberhard embarked on a series of meetings with venture capital firms along Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park. He argued that a combustion engine is an antiquated technology and that electric vehicles are dramatically more energy-efficient than their gas-guzzling counter-parts. “If you took the energy in a gallon of gas and used it to spin a turbine, you’d get enough electricity to drive an electric car 110 miles,” he says in a characteristically enthusiastic rush, trying to squeeze in too many words between breaths.

Conventional batteries feature a graphite anode (negative electrode) and lithium cathode (positive electrode) separated by electrolyte. The electrodes are arranged in thin layers. Lithium ions move from the anode to the cathode during discharge, then back again when recharging. That configuration accounts for some of the technology’s drawbacks: Long recharge time, limited lifespan and a propensity of overheating.

Prieto’s team reconfigured the battery architecture to address those drawbacks. They replaced the graphite anode with copper antimonide nanowires 1/50,000th the diameter of a human hair. The nanowires have enormous surface area, relatively speaking, and can store twice as many lithium ions as the same amount of graphite. They also are more chemically stable and heat resistant.

The last blaster I checked out is the pistol-sized Point Break ($6.99) packing a built-in 6-ounce reservoir that you pump up, then pull the trigger to release. The main advantage I found was that unlike other pump-style Super Soakers, the pumping action doesn’t require a lot of strength, making it great for smaller kids who’d find the bulk of the Hydro Cannon, or the strength requirements of the other pumping blasters, too much for their little arms.

The Volt in question caught fire while parked at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing center in Wisconsin, three weeks after being subjected to a side-impact pole test on May 12, Bloomberg reported. According to Green Car Reports, the test cracked the T-shaped battery pack running down the center of the vehicle.

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