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New Lead-acid Battery Advancements

Although lithium-ion batteries are a potential alternative to nickel-metal hydride systems, they could prove to be too expensive and unreliable for those interested in a hybrid car. NiMH batteries aren't necessary cheap, and their potential to become cheaper is low. So, where do manufacturers go for good prices and decent power?

You might be surprised to learn that lead-acid batteries are a potential solution for costs. They're surprising because of the material from which they're made is not just heavy, but bad for the environment, according to environmentalists.

But lead-acid batteries have been around for a long time -- they were invented in 1859 by the French physicist Gaston Plante -- and researchers in Australia and Japan looked into the technology to see what they could improve. These researchers created the UltraBattery. The UltraBattery uses supercapacitors, which are electric devices that give hybrid cars large bursts of energy necessary for acceleration without degrading the battery.

Although the auto industry as a whole is still a little reluctant about lead-acid technology for hybrid car applications, this type of system might cost $1,000 or less, and some Japanese cars could be using the UltraBattery by 2010.

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