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Aluminum-Air Battery to Power EVs for 1000 Miles : Discovery News

It’s the sweetest dream of every electric-car fan: a battery that could store enough energy to offer up to 1,000 miles of real-world range. While it’s not going to arrive in showrooms any time soon, Israeli startup Phinergy thinks its aluminum-air energy storage device might just be that battery. Moreover, say CEO Aviv Tzidon, the company has signed a contract with a global automaker to deliver production volumes of the device starting in 2017. Which isn’t really all that far away in car time, since we’re already seeing 2014 model-year cars on the road.

The Bloomberg clip above, posted last Thursday, comes from reporter Elliott Gotkine driving a Citroen C1 minicar that’s been modified to run as an electric car, with a Phinergy cell array mounted in the load bay. The car’s lithium-ion battery provides less than 100 miles of range, but the Phinergy aluminum-air cells acts as a range extender to provide up to an additional 1,000 miles.

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The highlight of the video is a technician filling the test car with distilled water, while the projected range is shown rising on a display on the CEO’s mobile phone. The water serves as a base for the electrolyte through which ions pass to give off the energy that powers the test vehicle’s electric motor. In the test car, the water must be refilled “every few hundred kilometers”–perhaps every 200 miles.

Very simply, an aluminum-air battery uses an aluminum plate as the anode, and ambient air as the cathode, with the aluminum slowly being sacrificed as its molecules combine with oxygen to give off energy. The basic chemical equation is four aluminum atoms, three oxygen molecules, and six water molecules combining to produce four molecules of hydrated aluminum oxide plus energy.



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