- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Hill and Wang; First Edition edition (May 10, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0809030535
- ISBN-13: 978-0809030538
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#1,069,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #101 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Automotive > Repair & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
- #197 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Automotive > Repair & Maintenance > Testing & Certification
- #218 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Engineering > Energy Production & Extraction > Electric
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Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars, and the New Lithium Economy First Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Electric cars are real—see the Tesla Roadster, Chevy Volt, and hybrids like the Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius—but the drive to create safe, lightweight, and long-lasting batteries to power them has been anything but smooth. Faced with political, technological, and management obstacles, battery technology still lags. In the mid-1800s Fletcher says, clean, cheap lead-acid batteries were developed that by the early 20th century were preferred for use in automobiles over "unreliable, complicated, loud, and dirty" gasoline-powered cars—until it came time to refuel. Thomas Edison tried to invent a safe, longer-duration battery, even experimenting with small amounts of lithium, but then Charles Kettering patented an automatic starter for gas engines, and the battle was lost. Smog and 1970s gas shortages revived interest in electric cars—and lithium batteries. But obstacles remain: Bolivia, Chile, and China have less than optimal political leadership and minimal infrastructure to safely mine and process the poisonous ore. More importantly, many technical challenges must be overcome before electric cars and buses become everyday modes of transportation. But Fletcher remains optimistic. He balances science and history with a closeup look at business practices and priorities, providing lucid and thorough coverage of a timely topic. (May)
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Top Customer Reviews
To judge the value of a this type of book, the first thing that I do is look at the reference section to see how extensive and diverse are the supporting materials. Mr. Fletcher has 17 pages of references, which is a good basis for a well-supported argument and essay of 215 pages (this number excludes counting the pages for the references, bibliography, and index). The one downside is that the references are not noted within the body of the text; each reference lists the page that it supports, which makes the reading easier but the checking of the facts, if you really want to do so, a bit more cumbersome.
The next thing that I check is the index. This book has 18 pages of index - indicating a good, thorough effort. The bibliography appears reasonable in length, breadth, and historical depth, as well.
The third criterion for judging such a book is the breadth and depth of the interviews conducted with primary players in a field. The material from interviews is a strength of this book - good, inciseful interviews of people in both the industry and the research arenas.
Finally, I judge a book by how well written and edited the text is. Clearly Mr. Fletcher is a fine author who writes a good narrative that can keep your interest.Read more ›
Be aware that at some points Mr. Fletcher gets carried away with technical explanations regarding how the different battery technologies work or describing battery chemistry or production processes, and thus, some basic to intermediate knowledge of chemistry and physics comes very handy. Nevertheless, the layman can safely skip these paragraphs without missing the main storyline; you just need to know that there are technologies A, B or C, and chemicals L, K and M.
The book provides a brief historical overview from the discovery of electricity, to the invention of the battery to its widespread use at the beginning of the automobile age, when one third of automobiles were electrically-powered. Here Mr. Fletcher pressed pause and explains in more detail key developments in battery technology, Edison efforts for a better battery and his discovery of the potential of lithium, until the electric car demise due to the invention of the electric self-starter and widespread adoption of the internal combustion engine. A few chapters ahead, he completes the history of the evolution of the electric car and the barriers that hindered its success (not surprisingly most are the same as today).Read more ›
If you want to understand the technological merits of the different battery technologies and EVs - while making sense of some the various information and disinformation by various interests that gets floated around the web - read his book. He compiled it all for the rest of us - and did so entertainingly.
As for the synopsis on the state of electric cars, which one would expect to be the most exciting part of the story, I found the focus to be misplaced. After a tantalizingly brief mention of the pioneering efforts of Tesla Motors, and admitting that Japanese firms have a huge technological lead, the author chooses to concentrate instead on GM's efforts to produce the Volt. Perhaps this was meant to help sell this book to an American market, but for those looking for a concise overview of the science behind an issue of global concern, the narrative seems held hostage to concerns for the resurrection of the US auto industry.
Although he writes in an engaging style, the author also has a habit of inserting catty personal comments into descriptions of his sources that I found petty and distracting.
If you are interested in a concise update on the battery technology that may finally enable electric cars to achieve mass market success, this may turn your crank, but as a general overview of the state of the electric car, it sputters.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good review of battery technology (specifically in the field of electric cars) up to 2012. Interesting background on the subject for the uninitiatedPublished 4 months ago by Zinc
A little hard to read but one to save because it has a lot of good information.Published 8 months ago by Wesley Conner
Out of date. 2015. It ignores Tesla developents - car and batteries. Focus on GM historicPublished 12 months ago by Mr E A C Kent
A very good book on batteries and the problem in storing electricity.Published 16 months ago by Roy Routson
Great read. Very informative! Very clearly sets out the path of development of an essential part of modern power needs.Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
Bit of an older book but very good Seth is a real writer not just some dude giving his opinion. interesting to see hat people where thinking in 2008 and 2009Published 19 months ago by Go Star Energy
This is a neat book. It's a niche subject, to be sure, but it's interesting too, and this book let's you see that interesting side. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Peter G