1,000-Mile Aluminum Air Battery Consumes Aluminum as Fuel; Dreamy Battery Tech is Only Feasible in Dreams (Video)

1 year ago by Eric Loveday 14

Phinergy Aluminum Air Battery

Phinergy Aluminum Air Battery

Is a 1,000-mile electric vehicle battery even possible?  Well, Phinergy, an Israeli startup, claims it certainly is, but we have serious doubts.

Here’s a look at the claims presented by Phinergy:

  • Aluminum-air battery
  • Capable of powering an electric vehicle for up to 1,000 miles
  • Energy density that begins to rival gasoline and diesel
  • Production volumes starting in 2017
  • Signed contract with global automaker
  • Phinergy’s prototype Al-air battery has been tested and proven to work

Okay, all sounds well, but aluminum-air technology is doubtful for several reasons.  First, carbon dioxide released within the battery corrodes aluminum.  Perhaps, Phinergy found a way to prevent corrosion.

Second, the battery must be refilled with water once every 200 or so miles.  This is not only inconvenient, but could pose a threat of danger if the water levels run too low or the person filling the battery adds the wrong fluid (maybe gasoline by mistake).

Finally, and this is a hurdle that seems impossible to get over, aluminum-air batteries actually consumer the aluminum plates in use.  This means that the plates must be replaced.  Phinergy says “recharged,” but that’s the startup’s way of skirting around describing what actually must be done.  After 1,000 miles, the spent aluminum plates must be removed and replace with new plates.  That’s inconvenient, expensive, probably dangerous and so impractical that we say aluminum-air technology is still only a pipe dream, nothing more.

via Extreme Tech

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14 responses to "1,000-Mile Aluminum Air Battery Consumes Aluminum as Fuel; Dreamy Battery Tech is Only Feasible in Dreams (Video)"

  1. evnow says:

    I think this would make an excellent range extension tool. Use a “normal” rechargeable battery for the first 100 or so miles – and then the aluminum battery comes into picture. Way better than the “Better Place” plan of replacing the entire expensive & heavy rechargeable battery.

    We would have to replace the aluminum battery only once a year or so. No worse than an oil change.

    1. Independent Observer says:

      The problem is that it would be an every 1000 mile oil change versus every 5000 mile. Second it would be a $200-300 oil change. The problem with the water is it is not like running out of gas, or running out of a battery charge in which you pull off to the side and have someone bring a gallon of gas, or at worse you have to be towed to get recharged. Running out of water can destroy the system. Yes I am sure most people on here are tech savvy enough that it would not happen. But remember you need to scale to all types of people. Just go to your local mall at during the Christmas season and observe the masses. It ain’t pretty.

      1. evnow says:

        Well, instrumentation to warn of water levels & stop the car when it goes below a minimum would be very simple.

        Exchange of battery should also be fairly inexpensive in volumes.

  2. offib says:

    Like how evnow pointed out, it won’t be no worse than an oil change.
    This sounds fairly similar to the BMW i3′s range extender, it’s not built to work all the time. I’m sure they’ll have some means of replacing the cells. I can see a way where there’ll still be a battery, like this Citroen C1 has that would be used primarily (but guaranteed to have far more range by 2017), on the dreaded holiday trip that can still be taken by plane, train or by renting a car, this Aluminium battery can be used just for that. Afterwards, say in a dealer of the car maker, they can replace the cells or the whole 30kg battery altogether. A bit similar how Nissan has fast charge points on many, if not soon all of its dealerships, and Better Place maybe.

    The water used as an electrolyte does worry for me. Here in Ireland, we’re suffering with more frequent flooding, hell, you can get to one end to another part of the island with an iMiev easily with a fast charge so we won’t need it, but you guys in the US who are already getting droughts worsening by the year, that is a concern.

  3. evnow says:

    The water concern is somewhat valid – but really depends on how much is needed. If all I need is one gallon per 200 miles – that should not be a big concern in areas where people have enough water today to waste on lawns.

  4. shawn marshall says:

    Water is 60 cents a gallon in the grocery store. Solar distillation? Can we refuel with beer cans?
    Is the Aluminum oxidized and just needs to be reprocessed?
    Is this from the prof at MIT who was doing something with sintered AL to electrolyze water?

  5. Cavaron says:

    I like this idea as a range extender. Aluminium can be recycled/melted with off peak power. We have a lot of cheap wind and solar power spikes here in germany. 250$ for 1000 extended miles after 100 LiIon miles would be ok for me. I just had a demand for some of the 1000 re miles every one or two months. For us ev-owners this could compensate some car-rents, train or air traveling plus the benefit that you have your ev with you on longer trips/holidays. And it would be a great backup if the one fast charger you planned with is out of order.

  6. n0body says:

    “After 1,000 miles, the spent aluminum plates must be removed and replace with new plates. That’s inconvenient, expensive, probably dangerous and so impractical”

    Inconvenient: Compared to what? Walking? Even you have to eat food and drink water to move. ICE engines need to be refueled, why is replacing aluminum plates such an inconvenience? It isn’t

    Expensive: Are you sure? Again, relative to what? What is the cost of driving a ICE engine 1000 miles. Is it more costly than that? Do you even know it’s cost? I doubt it and you don’t actually know.

    Dangerous: What a strangely negative bias you are trying to paint here. I have lifted countless 4×8 sheets of aluminum. That can be described as mildly dangerous, if you are a fcking idiot. If a man drops an 80lb bag of cement on another, was that a dangerous situation or a stupid man being stupid? It looks like moving the aluminum plates is about as dangerous as putting your groceries into your car.

    Impractical: See everything else I’ve just written.

    Threat of danger (running out of water): What happens to an ICE (internal combustion engine) motor when it runs out of fuel? Is that a dangerous situation? Do you even know how volatile gasoline is? Throw a match at a plate of aluminum and some water. Now throw a match at some gasoline. Which is more dangerous? Which would you rather have involved in a car accident? What kind of a person is going to go around putting gasoline into their water tank?

    Clearly, you are trying painfully hard to paint this concept into something horrible. I don’t understand your reasoning, but I doubt it really matters.

    Mod edit: Please don’t circumvent the language filters. Its fine to disagree, but please do it with the consideration of other readers.

  7. Mark H says:

    I agree with evnow/cavaron with the possible use as a range extender.

    Phinergy’s big claim is that they have beat the CO2 corrosion with a blocking membrane. Advancing technology is what engineers do.

    Every battery idea is not going to be a winner, but our community above all should be open to possibilities. Not wildly embrace them, but solving “pipe dreams” is how technology advances.

  8. dr.v.kapalil says:

    no doubt that the new news about aluminium-air battery is quite interesting.. ai-air battery is well known as a mechanically rechargeable battery. but it is surprising to read the comments of people about this battery. after going through the report on al-air battery by phinergy is definitely proving one point that is al-air battery is mechanically rechargeable. the following points have not been clearly brought ou.t
    and they are as follows. 1. when should anodes be changed 2.when should cathode be
    changed 3.when should electrolyte be changed. since these points have not been clearly described readers do not understand anything about your al-air battery inspite of the fact that you have done an excellent woek with regard to your battery.iam incidentally a scientis with twenty five yearsof research in al-air battery..you can run a car 1000 miles without stop and changin only your electrolyte with water. this categotically proves that you have noy controlled the heat that is being evolved by your battery during idle and active periods current and voltage are the most expected output of your battery. but in your battery the power and energy are wasted as heat..you know this better than me. iam a retired scientist of CENTRA ELECTROCHEMICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE,KARAIKUD,INDIA. IAM NOW LIVING IN CHENNAI.INDIA.i take this opportunity to congatulate you onyour great success namely 1000 miles in one trip.
    dr.v.kapali chennai 4.04.13 india

    phinergy.

  9. Jeff Durham says:

    This sort of technology does seem to be well suited as a range extender. They could be swapped fairly easily similar to A Better Place. I have noticed quite a few advancements in metal air batteries lately. Makes a person wonder if this is the direction that Tesla is going with the battery swap rumors.

    1. dr.v.kapalil says:

      what is the maximum distance you want to travel with your aluminium-air battery?
      furhterr i want to bring to uour kind notice about a three wheelers running in india.the total no of vehicles that is three wheelers is abou sixty lakhs. these vehicles are knwn as autorikshas.this is the most common trans port used by the middle income group of india. therefore in the whole world the total no of autorikshas will be around a few crores. at present they are running on petrol or gas. can you imagine that aluminium-air battery will be the real solution for these autorikshas.please runyour thought experiment in this direction since middle income society is the real back bone of every country.
      v.kapali chennai india 05.06.13

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  11. dr.v.kapali says:

    let us try to understand aluminium-air battery as follows
    1.aluminium-air battery is a primary battery.
    2.it is a mechanically rechargeable battery.by that it is understood that inthis system when the anode gets exausted it is replenished, when the cathode is exausted it is replenished and when the electrolyte is exhausted it is changed
    3.when the elecrolyte medium is to be changed that is also done as in the case of phinergy.
    as such there is no confusion unless readers have there own confusion.all that the phinergy people have to do is eplicitele bringout the above points

    v.kapali chennai 27.07.13