Chevy Volt, cellulosic ethanol named two of the year's biggest losers

Every year, IEEE Spectrum puts together a list of the best and worst technologies and it turns out that two of 2009's biggest losers are the Chevrolet Volt and cellulosic ethanol. What earned these two a place alongside D-Wave Systems' quantum computers and airport security? Too much hype, too many promises and too much money.

The Volt's plug-in technology "is destined to conquer the world," but the car itselt will be a business failure because that $40,000 price tag is just too high, IEEE Spectrum says. Even though the car really appeals to some people, the general population just won't give a rip. A more detailed explanation is available here.

As for cellulosic ethanol, the idea of making our own gasoline from switchgrass or other non-corn source is nice, but a "simple thought experiment" shows that it won't work. IEEE Spectrum says there isn't enough farmland in the U.S. to grow enough fuel, and that's leaving aside questions about where the demand will come from, what with all the non-flex-fuel vehicles on the road today. More details here.

IEEE Spectrum is willing to admit that they don't always get their predictions right, which is good. We think the case against the Volt isn't as bad as the magazine says, and there are ways to make cellulosic ethanol that don't require switchgrass. Still, it's not time yet to call these two items undisputed winners. Thanks to Addonelam for the tweet tip!

[Source: IEEE Spectrum]

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