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Update: Surebeam Goes Under

Irradiation equipment maker goes down the drain amid shareholder lawsuits and securities investigation

3 min read

13 January 2004--SureBeam Corp. (San Diego, Calif.), a leading maker of electronic irradiation systems and services, was on its way to making a killing in the food irradiation market once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved irradiation for ready-to-eat foods like hot dogs, deli meats, and frozen entrees [see ”Irradiation Nation,” IEEE Spectrum, August 2003.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the profit margin: nothing. FDA approval was expected last February. Then last July. Then last October. There's still no word from the FDA, but Surebeam's creditors couldn't wait any longer. The company failed to reach a restructuring agreement with its lender and could not raise enough funds to stay in business. Surebeam plans to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and cease operations on 16 January.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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