Few enabling technologies in the world today have the same potential for transforming the road transportation sector as batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells. Better and cheaper batteries and supercapacitors would enable hybrid vehicles to capture a large market share, and, in the long run, might provide battery electric vehicles with the desired performance and range. Fuel cell vehicles could reduce environmental problems if their fuel (hydrogen) is derived from renewable sources or non-carbon sources. The potential is enormous, but further research and development work needs to be done to improve the technologies and to bring down the costs.
The task force on exploratory research in batteries and supercapacitors focused its efforts on those areas where governments are the main actors in research, namely in pre-competitive exploratory research. Industry has long recognized the potential of improved batteries and is investing heavily in research closer to the market. Task 5 strengthened international research, thereby supporting progress in the ultimate development of better batteries and supercapacitors.
Participants exchanged information on the exploratory research projects undertaken in each country. They organized two symposia jointly with the Electrochemical Society on electric vehicle batteries and supercapacitors. In addition, they published two "outlook" reports on the current state-of-the-art of vehicle battery development.
The task force brought together experienced electrochemical researchers from different countries, and one of the important benefits was the networking and informal exchange of information that took place. More concretely, the two symposia (In San Antonio in 1996 and in Boston in 1998) were well attended by researchers from industry and Government, and their proceedings were published by the Electrochemical Society. The "outlook reports" were well received and were distributed to all participants in the TCP.