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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Batteries--The Weak Link?

WIIIAI sent me a link to this fascinating column by Matthew Parris about the one thing which has kept electricity from dominating world energy--the lack of a decent battery. Excerpt:
As a medium for the transmission of energy and information, electricity is non-pareil.

One thing holds it back. One thing stands between electricity and world domination, keeping alive its only serious competitor: oil. There is but one reason why fossil fuels retain their grip as sources of heat and (via the internal combustion engine) motion. Our failure — Britain’s and the world’s — to invent an adequate electric battery is the sole cause of our dependence upon fossil fuels. Everything else — air pollution, global warming, rising sea-levels — flows from that.
Parris points out that gasoline has about 100 times the energy density of the typical car battery. So, even though electric motors are much more efficient than internal-combustion engines, they lose their advantage quickly for transportation because they have to lug much heavier "gas tanks" around with them.