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