1,000-Mile Aluminum Air Range-Extended Electric Vehicle Debuts – Video

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 23

Alcoa Phinergy Aluminum Air EV

Alcoa Phinergy Aluminum Air EV

Alcoa and clean tech firm Phinergy debuted a jointly developed electric vehicles featuring an “aluminum-air battery that powers electric cars to greater distances.”

The Alcoa-Phinergy electric vehicle lapped the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal ahead of the Formula 1 Grand Prix Du Canada in Montreal.

Here are a few highlights/lowlights from aluminum air technology:

  • 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
  • Carbon dioxide released within the battery corrodes aluminum
  • Battery must be refilled with water once every 200 or so miles. 
  • Battery consumes the aluminum plates over time. 
  • Plates must be replaced every 1,000 miles or so.
  • Operating/replacement costs of ~$10 per mile

*Editor’s Note: Alcoa has contacted InsideEVs to dispute our ~$10 per mile operating/replacement cost claim.  As Alcoa suggests:

“Our Phinergy colleagues would tell you that energy cost per mile of the aluminum to be equal to or less than gasoline.”

We doubt this aluminum air tech will work in the real world, but for those interested in learning more, we’ve included the full press release and video below.

Phinergy Aluminum Air Battery

Phinergy Aluminum Air Battery

Press blast:

Alcoa and Phinergy Debut Electric Car With Aluminum-Air Battery at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve

Alcoa, Phinergy and Quebec Government Start Discussions Regarding Deployment of Aluminum-Air Battery Technology in the Province

MONTREAL, June 2, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ – Alcoa (NYSE: AA) and clean technology company Phinergy today debuted a zero-emissions electric demo car powered by a revolutionary aluminum-air battery at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal. Alcoa and Phinergy are collaborating on new materials, processes and components to commercialize the aluminum-air battery, which can extend the distance an electric car travels by approximately 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles).

“Automakers want technologies that enable zero-emission electric cars to travel distances that compete with gasoline-powered cars. The aluminum-air battery has the potential to meet that challenge using fully recyclable material with no CO2 emissions,” said Martin Briere, President of Alcoa Canada. “Quebec’s focus on growing electric-powered transportation with the goal of being a leader in green technology, provides a strong backdrop for today’s debut. Alcoa and Phinergy look forward to collaborating with the Quebec government to advance this technology and the potential development of the aluminum-air battery in the province. Furthermore, our aluminum production facility in Baie-Comeau is well positioned to supply the aluminum for the battery.”

Alcoa Phinergy Aluminum Air EV

Alcoa Phinergy Aluminum Air EV

“Electric vehicle adoption has been slowed by the limited range of regular batteries, causing what is commonly known as ‘range anxiety’,” said Aviv Tzidon, CEO of Phinergy. “With Phinergy’s technology, and Alcoa’s industrial leadership across both the aluminum value chain and the automotive market, we see an exciting opportunity to help move electric vehicles into the mainstream.”

Dr. Raymond J. Kilmer, executive vice-president and chief technology officer at Alcoa, together with Aviv Tzidon, founder and CEO of Phinergy, will present on the air-aluminum battery electric car project at the Canadian International Aluminium Conference (CIAC) in Montreal on June 4 at 9 a.m. EDT. The Alcoa-Phinergy car will be on display at the conference on June 3 and 4.

The aluminum-air battery uses air and water to unlock the energy stored in aluminum. According to Phinergy, just one of the 50 aluminum plates in the battery can power a car for approximately 20 miles, and when used to supplement a lithium-ion battery, can extend vehicle range by approximately 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles). The technology allows an energy density that surpasses conventional battery technologies and creates electric vehicles with travel distances, purchase prices and life-cycle costs that are comparable to fossil-fuel cars.

About Alcoa
A global leader in lightweight metals engineering and manufacturing, Alcoa innovates multi-material solutions that advance our world. Our technologies enhance transportation, from automotive and commercial transport to air and space travel, and improve industrial and consumer electronics products. We enable smart buildings, sustainable food and beverage packaging, high-performance defense vehicles across air, land and sea, deeper oil and gas drilling and more efficient power generation. We pioneered the aluminum industry over 125 years ago, and today, our 60,000 people in 30 countries deliver value-add products made of titanium, nickel and aluminum, and produce best-in-class bauxite, alumina and primary aluminum products. For more information, visit www.alcoa.com, follow @Alcoa on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Alcoa and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Alcoa.

About Phinergy
Phinergy is an innovative cleantech company and developer of breakthrough metal-air technologies. Drawing on a diverse range of talent and disciplines, the Phinergy team tackles traditional challenges with new and creative methods. The company’s aluminum-air energy system offers significant competitive advantages, including high energy density, zero polluting emissions, fully recyclable materials, high safety and low cost.

Phinergy is a leading developer of breakthrough zero-emissions, high energy-density systems based on metal-air energy technologies. The company’s primary focus is on aluminum-air and zinc-air batteries. Unlike conventional batteries that carry oxygen, metal-air batteries take in oxygen from the surrounding air to release the energy contained in metals.

Air and Aluminum Range-Extending Batteries

Electric vehicle adoption has been slowed by the limited range of regular batteries, causing what is commonly known as ‘range anxiety’. With technology from tech company Phinergy, and Alcoa’s industrial leadership across both the aluminum value chain and the automotive market, we see an exciting opportunity to help move electric vehicles into the mainstream.

Alcoa and Phinergy have entered into a joint development agreement to further develop Phinergy’s electric vehicle batteries that run on air and aluminum. The companies will collaborate on new materials, processes and components to commercialize the aluminum-air battery, which can extend electric vehicle range by 1,000 miles.

Alcoa’s team engaged on the project is based at the Alcoa Technical Center located outside of Pittsburgh, which is the largest light-metals research facility in the world.

In addition to use in electric vehicles, the battery technology can be used for stationary energy applications such as commercial emergency generators for hospitals and data centers, general purpose generators, and defense applications such as mobile housing and unmanned vehicles. It can also be used for first responders due to its infinite shelf life and high energy density. Phinergy and Alcoa are also working on the aluminum-air technology for these applications.

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23 responses to "1,000-Mile Aluminum Air Range-Extended Electric Vehicle Debuts – Video"

  1. kdawg says:

    Didn’t have a chance to watch the video, but is your statement correct?

    “Operating/replacement costs of ~$10 per mile”

    That would mean 1 plate for 1000 miles cost $10,000.

    1. NZDavid says:

      No, it means all 50 plates need to be replaced.

      In other words, a complete rebuild/ replacement.

      They, obviously, need several rounds of cost reduction before this ones a flier. Still combined with a regular Li battery as a range extender, I can see it working better than hydrogen!

    2. Mint says:

      I too am looking for a source behind that statement. I can see the initial cost being $10k for 1000 miles, but that doesn’t mean replacing the plates costs that much.

      Eric, can you help us out?

      1. Gene Frenkle says:

        I always read that each plate cost $1.80 in aluminum as each plate weighs 1kg so that is essentially 8 kWh of stored energy derived from hydro (hydro costs 3 cents a kWh). I have also always read that the actual cost would be less than $1.80 per kg due to recycling.

    3. This just an update stating Phinergy as found interested investor in Quebec to recycle the used aluminum plates. Each of the 50 plates is said to produce ~20 miles. Note: If you want to drive 1000 miles without adding plates, all 50 plates will need to be changed before the trip.

      eg: if wanting to traveling 500 miles, could only replace plates with less than 50% capacity. The return trip would require a similar replacement of plates, or replacing all plates before the round-trip. This makes “cost per mile” variable; dependent on current state of plates and distance needing to travel. (unless partially used plates where kept on hand for use on shorter trips)

      Being “recyclable” vs “rechargeable” means actual driving range determined by cells with lower capacity remaining. Each depleted plate means less power to operate.

      From Apr 2013
      http://www.gizmag.com/phinergy-metal-air-battery/26922/

    4. JakeY says:

      One plate is 20 miles, so assuming the number is correct, that’s $200 per plate.

      Still seems ridiculously high. I’m sure people would rather wait a bit for quick charging and pay a whole lot less. Even Tesla’s $60 battery swapping costs only about $0.25 a mile.

  2. David Murray says:

    I could see this useful as a range extender… But the operation costs needs to be about 10x less.

    1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      More like 100x less. 10 cents a mile is acceptable. $10 a mile? Ludicrous.

      1. Mint says:

        Seems like Zinc-Air is more promising right now:
        http://www.eosenergystorage.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Eos-Public-Presentation-2013-02-11.pdf

        They’re already at $160/kWh for stationary storage, and can cycle 10,000 times. It’s certainly better than a hydrogen fuel cell.

        1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

          Interesting, though they need to get their cost per kW down to about $10. That is, a unit that can deliver a steady 50kW as a range extender (to replace an ICE) in concert with a 40kWh “power” battery that can, say, discharge at 10C for bursts and 4-5C constantly, should cost no more than $5000.

          IMO 50kW is minimum usable for a range extender in an environment with lots of hills/mountains, in order to maintain 70mph under those conditions.

          1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

            err, $10->$100, vs $1000 in the PDF.

  3. veselin says:

    I hope that global automaker to be Tesla. Could be nice range extender for long trips.

    1. Mark B. Spiegel says:

      Lol, yes, so much more practical than BMW’s solution of providing 80 miles for $8 worth of gas!

  4. Josh says:

    Back of the envelope math says ~5000 kWh for $10k. That is the refuel cost though, not the first time system cost.

    If they could optimize the system to provide 2000 kWh for $2-3k, it would make an outstanding home backup power system. That would give most homeowners a month worth of power including recharging their vehicle. A couple weeks without power is common after hurricanes, and gas generators are useless if you can’t find a gas station with power.

    1. Josh says:

      And that is why you don’t do envelope math before coffee… that would be 500 kWh not 5000. So 20k – 30k for a home system.

      Looks like they need to get the costs down about 10x, like said above.

  5. Ocean Railroader says:

    As for this new tech I kind of don’t like it in that could you think of what would happen if you have millions of these cars on the road with the battery eating up the metal in it. It’s going to pump that eated up metal up into the air. So based off of this I don’t think it’s a useful tech.

    Also most likely someone will find something else in existing lithium or something else and make this into a dead end.

    1. Nick says:

      I think the reaction leads to hydrated aluminium oxide which is stored onboard and has to be removed for recycling back to aluminum.

  6. Nick says:

    10$ a mile?!

    I might as well charter a private jet instead. They are orders of magnitude off a reasonable price target for personal transportation.

  7. Evil Attorney says:

    One several occasions (4 in the last week), when clicking through on an article you posted to facebook, it sends me to a facebook app called movietrivia (I think). I was thinking that one of my Chrome plugins was hijacking me, but ruled that out. It’s only with this site when I click through via facebook.

  8. JakeY says:

    I have got that too a couple of times. It happens randomly when I click on an article link (although it might be when I miss it and click on the twitter link). This is the only site where it happens.

  9. Gene Frenkle says:

    This is a very exciting technology–this battery coupled with a 100 mile range lithium battery would be great for passenger cars. This could also be used for long haul trucking if the price was around $2 for 10 miles.

  10. Even at $10 per mile, if the energy density is as good as reported, this is useful tech. This could be used like a spare tire. Rarely used, but when you need it, it saves the day.

  11. Foro EV says:

    “Operating/replacement costs of ~$10 per mile”

    Please, correct that. Purchase prices and life-cycle costs that are comparable to fossil-fuel cars, so $0.10 per mile!!!