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A European consortium known as SmartBatt believes that something critical and essential is missing for pure electric vehicle technology – battery packs that aren't heavy and bulky. Therefore, SmarBatt's objective is to develop an innovative, multifunctional, light and safe energy storage system smartly integrated into electric cars.

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Nissan Leaf battery pack - Click above for high-res image gallery

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We know that General Motors has the largest battery lab in the world, one that's capable of carrying out all kinds of scientific tests, but that's a little boring, if you ask us. If you want to test a battery's durability, do you really need fancy lab equipment and sophisticated computers? Or can you just use a few household items, a swimming pool, bullets and a lot of time? Maybe it's time to ditch the lab coats, fire up the oven and learn how battery testing is really done.

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Bill Wallace showing off the Volt cell and battery pack – Click above for high-res image gallery

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The U.S. federal government has put a lot of money into clean car companies this past year, including about $8.5 billion through U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program (Ford got $5.9 billion, Nissan $1.6 billion, Fisker Automotive $528.7 million, and Tesla Motors $465 million) and another $2+ billion for advanced batteries (some say it was more than that). There may be more coming down the pike.

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President Obama announcing $2.4 billion battery grants - Click above to watch the video after the jump

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