High oil prices fuel development of new hybrid batteries
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By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers
NISKAYUNA, N.Y. — Rising oil and gasoline prices have put spring into the steps of the engineers at General Electric's global research headquarters, who're developing new battery technologies to power everything from hybrid cars to tugboats, city buses and diesel locomotives.
"The price of gasoline is going up dramatically, so we're looking more seriously at this," said Robert King, a senior hybrid engineer who's researched hybrid technologies for more than three decades. "The cost is still one challenge, but I think as we see the price of gasoline going up, more effort is going into the development of technology."
The silver lining in high oil prices is that they may hasten the arrival of energy alternatives that should bring a number of benefits.
Oil historian Daniel Yergin calls today's high prices a "tipping point" that will lead to alternatives to oil. New battery technologies could leave the United States less reliant on foreign oil while reducing harmful carbon dioxide emissions.
Sound like a pipe dream? General Motors' chairman and chief executive officer, Rick Wagoner, announced Tuesday that his board has given the green light to begin manufacturing the Chevy Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle.
“The Chevy Volt is a go. We believe this is the biggest step yet in our industry’s move away from our historic, virtually complete reliance on petroleum to power vehicles,” Wagoner said in a statement, pledging to get the Volt into dealerships by late 2010.@ McClatchy
The wheels of Science are turning, albeit very slowly. The writing is on the wall and I have been noticing GE has been taking steps to be included in the race to discover alternative sources of power to drive America into the 21st Century.