Lithium-ion batteries have two big hurdles to climb if they're going to power millions of plug-in vehicles – they're too expensive and their reliability has been called to question. For next-gen li-ion batteries to make it, there had better be a cheap and plentiful component. How about rice husks?
Japan's first commercial plant to produce ethanol for cars from locally-grown rice will reach full capacity of 1 million liters a year by March 2009. The project, which is being developed in Niigata (central Japan), has an estimated cost of 1.6 billion yen (about US $15 million), half of it coming from Japanese Government funding.