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Superbattery: The next great triumph of engineering

PARIS — Depending on your point of view, the journey of EE Times/EE Life editorial director Brian Fuller across America in a Chevrolet Volt was either a great adventure or the cushy assignment of the year. In my view, it represented EE Times’ most significant investment thusfar — thanks to the sponsorship of Avnet — in perhaps the most important technology of the 21st century: electric power storage, specifically in the form of long-life batteries.

Fuller and his videographer brother Kirk, driving coast-to-coast in an electric car with internal-combustion backup, was something of a leap of faith. They faced swathes of America in which there exist no power stations to plug in their Volt and recharge the juice in the vehicle’s 288-cell, 16-kilowatt hour battery pack. Right now, 48 of 50 states, according to Car and Driver, have fewer than ten such stations each. This left Brian and Kirk using the Volt’s cute backup 83-hp internal combustion engine a lot more than they might have preferred. Indeed, after the switch from battery (range 35 miles) to gasoline power (an additional 300-odd miles), the Volt averages around 30 miles per gallon. This isn’t bad but, compared to, say, a 1972 Honda Civic, it’s embarrassing.


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