If the groups behind it are to be believed, this little electric vehicle could travel 1,000 miles on a single charge. Battery developer Phinergy and metal manufacturer Alcoa have teamed up to demonstrate their aluminum-air battery in a small electric vehicle at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, and our friends at Autoblog Québec were there to check it out.

The test car, which appears to be using the body of a Citroën C1, uses lithium-ion and aluminum-air batteries for a total range of 1000 miles. But the question of whether or not it makes sense to take this little EV on a 1,000-mile road trip is not quite that simple.

The aluminum-air battery is lightweight, and more energy dense than the lithium-ion batteries in use today. The product of the aluminum anode, ambient air (oxygen) cathode and water electrolyte is an electrical charge the power the car, and the resultant aluminum hydroxide byproduct is recycled to create more aluminum. When the aluminum-air battery is depleted, the modular aluminum "cartridges" can be swapped out for new ones at a service station.

The aluminum-air battery isn't something you can recharge at home.

So no, the aluminum-air battery isn't something you can recharge at home (or at all, really), but its simplicity of management and closed-loop life cycle are impressive. Furthermore, it offers a shelf life of 20 to 30 years. If used as a range extender in a car using a lithium battery as its primary energy source, like this particular vehicle, it could be quite practical, and give drivers a carbon-free option for backup power.

So, depending on the cost of the aluminum-air batteries, and the availability of service stations, vehicles like Alcoa-Phinergy car could be used for 1,000-mile trips. In all practicality, though, the aluminum batteries make the most sense when compared to gasoline-range extended vehicles, and there's nothing wrong with putting a much cleaner energy option on the table. If this aluminum-air tech gets legs - and demand - the idea of it becoming a primary source of power for long-range vehicles could be in our future, too. Learn more about the lithium-air battery in the video and press release from Alcoa, below.

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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."

"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.

Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains statements that relate to future events and expectations and as such constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements include those containing such words as "anticipate," "expect," "goal," "potential," "should," "will," or other words of similar meaning. All statements that reflect Alcoa's expectations, assumptions or projections about the future other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, forecasts regarding the potential for new technologies, materials or processes; targeted environmental or sustainability results; and statements about Alcoa's strategies, outlook, and business and financial prospects. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors and are not guarantees of future performance. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements include: material adverse changes in aluminum industry conditions; unfavorable changes in the markets served by Alcoa; failure to advance or successfully implement, to achieve commercialization of, or to realized expected benefits from, new technologies or innovative products, including the aluminum-air battery, whether due to changes in the regulatory environment, competitive developments, or other factors; and the other risk factors discussed in Alcoa's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013 and other reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Alcoa disclaims any intention or obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements, whether in response to new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 6 Months Ago
      Yep.. so replacing the most abundantly available fuel... for a pack that will take decades to be as prevalent as gasoline. Not exactly the dependable range extender fuel that PHEV drivers will need. The range beyond commute/errands (40+ miles) is the zone in which predictability of need and location becomes VERY HIGH. That is when a person does NOT want to become dependent on any fuel they have to hunt for. Once a driver gets past 200 miles... that is well into the zone of "road trip".. and planning becomes part of the journey in a way that allows for GPS navigation to find routes that include infrastructure availability.
      Joeviocoe
      • 6 Months Ago
      Okay... throw out my calculations. Jesse brings up a good point (the AL and Elekt) combine as one, and Li-Ion is a separate feed. So my new guess is that the Elekt is the "Electrolyte solution" similar to a flow battery. This means that the AL plates would need to be processed with the onboard water... in phases to make electrolyte. So I am not sure what to make of that.
        JakeY
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        I think it has to do with the water usage and the water filling every 200 miles. Probably how much kWh you can get out of the pack with the current amount of electrolyte.
      MikeE
      • 6 Months Ago
      This Al-air system is technically a battery, but for all practical purposes it's a fuel cell that uses aluminum plates instead of [your choice of hydrocarbon here]. I suspect it works economically only as a rarely-used range extender. Whether a rarely-used range extender makes sense at all is another question to which the answer is not obvious to me.
      Jim
      • 6 Months Ago
      Once the battery becomes a short-term consumable, you are no longer talking about a car that runs on electricity; You are talking about a car that runs on electricity and aluminum. I'd love to see the lifecycle energy costs on this.
      John Hansen
      • 6 Months Ago
      I'm really optimistic about this since they say they have a global automaker on board with it. In the video the only two worrisome points are the lithium ion range of 20-40 miles (should be the normal 80 miles to reduce the number of swaps needed), and the fact that they mentioned a service center doing the swap. If you could just pop the old cartridge out and walk into any AutoZone for WalMart to exchange it for a new one, I could really see that taking off. Hell, I can imagine going to CostCo and buying a two year supply of the cartridges. I think I would use about 150 miles of the lithium air range per month (if the primary battery had an 80 mile range) so one cartridge would last over six months. If this is actually on the market in one to two years, this could be awesome. Also, with the small weight and size of these, you could finally have a portable "gas can" for when somebody runs out of juice and you don't want to call for a tow.
        Naturenut99
        • 6 Months Ago
        @John Hansen
        +++ If they go ahead with this, it should be a swappable pack you can buy at a store and switch ourselves.
        Joeviocoe
        • 6 Months Ago
        @John Hansen
        Better Place also had "a global automaker on board" Swap schemes are very easy to fail. Even at 40 miles... what are the chances of being near an Autozone at the point you need it. This brings it into "Infrastructure building" again. Which cannot be relied upon. Even Tesla ensures a 265 mile range, before relying on the L2 Public chargers and Supercharger infrastructure.... which are both easier to implement, since they don't require stocking packs.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 6 Months Ago
      Yeaah... too many unanswered questions at this point.
        Spec
        • 6 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        This. How much does it cost? What are the environmental impacts? Etc.
      danfred311
      • 6 Months Ago
      yeah it seems to have serious better place weaknesses. not relevant
      Naturenut99
      • 6 Months Ago
      Tesla had a similar idea last year. http://www.teslamotors.com/it_CH/forum/forums/tesla-patents-hint-400-mile-hybrid-lithiumionmetalair-battery
        Joeviocoe
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Naturenut99
        Well... Tesla is only considering Rechargeable Metal-air batteries. Li-Air is rechargeable electrically... it currently has other challenges. But they won't put in a non-rechargeable battery in a Tesla.
      Anderlan
      • 6 Months Ago
      What's the efficiency of the closed loop? I.E., what's the efficiency of the 'battery' as defined out a few more steps than normal.
      • 6 Months Ago
      a carbon-free option for backup power. ? so the electricity used to create the aluminum won't come from a carbon source ? cool ... oh wait ... not carbon free ... CO2 is plant food not pollution ... no warming for 18 years ... no hurricanes making landfall in 7 years ... drought down since the early 1900's ... tornado's trending lower ... ice still on the Great Lakes TODAY ... Ev's are cute and fun and practical for some applications ... but only a percentage of peoples transportation needs can be handled by an EV ...
      SteveG
      • 6 Months Ago
      You could never get it clean enough. Maybe if you were willing to melt it back down and thus burn off most of the contamination.
      karlInSanDiego
      • 6 Months Ago
      Or you could fill your trunk with Duracell dry cells. This is BS because the recharge is more intensive than all other technologies. Flushing the electrolyte AND using an alternate energy source to recharge AND removing the battery AND exchanging it with a facility (AND shipping it back to a lab???) is just exemplifying why you shouldn't look to the worlds largest Aluminum company for advice on how good this aluminum battery is.
        Actionable Mango
        • 6 Months Ago
        @karlInSanDiego
        But according to Alcoa's press release, "Innovation is in Alcoa's DNA". I'm convinced!
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