The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World
by Steve LeVine
Viking, 2015 (($28.95))
Why didn't electric cars win the race for vehicular dominance at the beginning of the 20th century? After all, they were cleaner and easier to use than cars burning gasoline. The answer, in a word, is batteries. Now, in the early years of the 21st century, the electric car is making a comeback of sorts, but the challenge remains the same—how to get more juice out of battery chemistry. Journalist LeVine examines the race to develop a better battery at Argonne National Laboratory and provides a history of battery design in recent decades. With the pace, if not quite the payoff, of a thriller, he also reveals how the very human foibles of scientists and entrepreneurs, as well as fundamental physics and chemistry, stand in the way of such efforts, which, if successful, could result in a new global industry and attendant jobs.