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Transportation Power

Israeli Firm Makes Kilomile Claims For Electric Car Battery Tech 247

Posted by timothy
from the proclaimers-need-to-up-their-game-a-bit dept.
cylonlover writes with this tantalizing excerpt from GizMag "Israel-based company Phinergy claims to have developed metal-air battery technology that promises to end the range anxiety associated with electric vehicles. The company's battery currently consists of 50 aluminum plates, each providing energy for around 20 miles (32 km) of driving. This adds up to a total potential range of 1,000 miles (1,609 km), with stops required only every couple of hundred miles to refill the system with water."
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Israeli Firm Makes Kilomile Claims For Electric Car Battery Tech

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  • by mrvan (973822) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @09:52AM (#43356895)

    From TFA (I know, but there were no comments yet ;-):

    The company says the aluminum plate anodes in its aluminum-air battery have an energy density of 8 kWh/kg, but the batteries are not rechargeable. Once the energy is expended, the plates, which add up to around 55 pounds (25 kg) per battery, need to be replaced. However, the company points out that aluminum is easily recyclable and that swapping the battery out for a fresh one is quicker than recharging.

    That makes it a lot less appealing, I would say...

    • by santax (1541065) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @09:55AM (#43356919)
      It will depend on the price. If I can get a new battery like I would get a new gas-container for my cooking needs, no problemo. Just as long as it's at a reasonable price.
      • by rlwhite (219604) <rogerwhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:31AM (#43357235)

        The article says the battery contains 55 lb of aluminum. The price of aluminum currently fluctuates in the general vicinity of $1 per lb, so we're talking at least $50 in raw materials. Add in other materials, manufacturing costs, and profit, and I'm going to guess a $100 battery is not out of the question. Maybe $75 if we're lucky. That sounds high as a gas replacement initially, but if it truly gets 1,000 miles on the aluminum battery and we compare it to a gas-sipping car (we'll say 50mpg), the gas at $3.50/gal would cost $70 for 1,000 miles. When you consider how few cars in the US get that good of mileage and the ever-climbing price of gas, we are probably somewhere close to a break-even point economically.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Add in the option of drive-thru refill stations where you part-exchange your battery for a fully charged one and it becomes very interesting.

          • by rlwhite (219604)

            Yes, I didn't think to mention that recyclers are buying aluminum around $0.50/lb.

            • by kencurry (471519)
              I just skimmed TFA, but I didn't see any details of the electrochemistry. So this is only a guess, but I think the Al gets turned over to Al2O3, which provides the current to run the motor. If that is true, than you can't just recycle the spent mass, you have to convert it back to a metal, then you can recycle it. Doable, but not cheap.
              • I love the units used in the summary title. Kilomile? A better statement would be Megameter.
                • by tlhIngan (30335)

                  I love the units used in the summary title. Kilomile? A better statement would be Megameter.

                  Kilomile = 1000 miles.
                  megametre = 1000 km.

                  Last I checked, a kilometre is much shorter than a mile...

                  • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                    by emho24 (2531820)
                    Yeah but megametre sounds much cooler. Like Megadeth, Megatron, Megaboz ...
                  • by N Monkey (313423)

                    I love the units used in the summary title. Kilomile? A better statement would be Megameter.

                    Kilomile = 1000 miles.
                    megametre = 1000 km.

                    Last I checked, a kilometre is much shorter than a mile...

                    And a kiloleague would be even longer ... but the point I assume the GP was making is that it seems stupid to use an SI prefix with an antiquated unit of measurement.

            • by jabuzz (182671) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:21AM (#43357839) Homepage

              Except these batteries generate electricity by turning aluminium into aluminium oxide. Admittedly it will be nice pure oxide that can go straight back to the electrolytic smelter to be turned back into aluminium. However it cannot be just melted back into aluminium and is more like $300 per tonne.

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          The old battery will definitely have good recycling value - so you may discount part of the cost of materials there, as you're normally swapping them out. Just like with a gas cylinder for cooking gas (you only once pay a deposit for the cylinder, after that for the gas only).

          What you did not add though, is the cost of the energy that is stored in those batteries. The energy those batteries provide comes from somewhere, and is certainly not free.

          • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:02AM (#43357585) Journal

            What you did not add though, is the cost of the energy that is stored in those batteries.

            He did: the price of bulk refined aluminium includes the energy cost of the electricity used to refine it.

          • by gutnor (872759)

            Actually you would need a network like Tesla supercharger network for this to really work. As long as you bought the initial battery, you can swap it for only the cost of energy (profit included with a small recycling fee) from the network of power stations.

            Problem of that, according to Tesla, is that there is significant technical challenge to swap battery pack in a reliable way and it also limit the design and location of those packs. But then of course, their battery pack has different constraints.

            A

            • by wvmarle (1070040)

              This kind of battery design (assuming it actually works) could be really useful.

              The swapping-out part has to be solved (weight will be an issue when handling manually), but that's imho a matter of proper design, and is just a technical issue that can be solved.

              The great thing of a battery like this is that the recharge problem is basically solved. No lengthy waits (swap out the batteries - can probably be done in a matter of minutes), no loss of capacity over the years (always a new battery), no massive spi

        • by mwvdlee (775178)

          Don't forget transport costs. Fuel has to be transported to your local gasstation and it has to carried along in the car itself.

          Gasoline weighs roughly 6 lb/gallon (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_does_a_gallon_of_gasoline_weigh).
          An average car drives 20 miles/gallon (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_average_gas_mileage_of_the_average_car)
          So gasoline weighs some 0.3 lb/mile.

          These batteries weigh 55 lb per 20 miles; 2.75 lb/mile; roughly 9 times more.

          Also note that fuel is used up while driving, the

          • by Aardpig (622459) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:07AM (#43357669)

            Hang on a sec; the *battery* contains 55lb of Al, and the *battery* provides power for 1,000 miles. So, that translates to 0.055 lb/mile, which is significantly smaller than gasoline.

            • by Solandri (704621) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @03:21PM (#43360977)
              Congratulations. You have "discovered" what space programs have already known for decades - the Gibbs free energy change [wikipedia.org] of elemental aluminum converted to aluminum chloride or aluminum oxide is massive. Among the largest there is for a chemical reaction. Several times greater than that of hydrogen converted to water or carbon dioxide (which is the basis for energy release in hydrocarbon fuels). That's why aluminum is a popular fuel in solid rocket boosters. On a per-mole basis, it's much better at storing energy. And it's still pretty competitive on a per-weight basis.
          • by cdrudge (68377)

            Gasoline weighs roughly 6 lb/gallon (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_does_a_gallon_of_gasoline_weigh).
            An average car drives 20 miles/gallon (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_average_gas_mileage_of_the_average_car)
            So gasoline weighs some 0.3 lb/mile.

            These batteries weigh 55 lb per 20 miles; 2.75 lb/mile; roughly 9 times more.

            Your comparison is flawed. You're measuring the weight of 1 gallon of fuel that goes 20 miles to the weight of 50 aluminum plates that weight 55 lbs combined that goes 1000 mil

            • by hurfy (735314)

              sigh

              And none of the above note the fact that there is more to the battery than JUST those alum plates. How much is the other plates in there? The electrolyte? The water? Something to hold them together and a box to contain it all? Maybe even some hardware to enable those swaps?

        • by eth1 (94901)

          Another thing to consider is the price of the car itself, though. Even if these batteries end up with a running cost of $2.00/gal equivalent, how much cheaper would an electric car be without the expensive batteries and charging circuitry. An electric motor by itself is going to be a lot cheaper to make (and definitely to maintain) than an ICE.

          Even if it's not as cheap to run as a rechargeable electric, it might still be cheaper to own than an ICE-powered car, and actually affordable by the masses.

        • by Githaron (2462596)
          You can probably take out the material costs past the first battery. If this tech became common place you would probably get a "core" deduction for trading out batteries.
          • by Immerman (2627577)

            Except that in something like a lead battery or catalytic converter the used core is just a mechanically degraded version of the original material, which can be recycled fairly easily. In this case though the aluminum plates are probably electrochemically converted back to an ore-like state. Quite pure, but still requiring the enormous amounts of energy to convert back to a metal which is responsible for much of the expense of aluminum.

        • by onyxruby (118189)

          To put some perspective on your point consider that a pre-paid replacement battery set for a Tesla is $12,000 [teslamotors.com] I would say that they have some headway to work with. That figure is what they estimate the price will drop down to in several years, and for insurance purposes the batteries have a listed replacement cost of $30,000.

          The real question is how long can these batteries last for like kind performance and life (number of recharge cycles etc)? Once you have that you can perform an apples to apples compari

    • by Ksevio (865461) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @09:55AM (#43356921) Homepage
      That would be a big downside - however, they also say they can get it a 200 mile range using Lithium ion batteries which is respectable. It could be that this one time use battery is to quell the complaints of people who say "But what if I want to road trip 500 miles into the middle of no-where!"
      • I kind like that idea.

        Have a rechargeable < 100 KM battery for short everyday commute to and from work, then the long range battery you could buy when planning a > 100 KM trip.

        The challenge would be to make them cheap and easy to swap.
      • by Jeremi (14640)

        It could be that this one time use battery is to quell the complaints of people who say "But what if I want to road trip 500 miles into the middle of no-where!

        Well, maybe, but now you're just substituting one kind of range anxiety for another. Now instead of worrying about getting stranded, people will be worried about having to replace an expensive aluminum-battery.

    • If the batteries are easy to swap out, it would make "recharging" much faster compared to the Tesla's [slashdot.org] current approach that requires long waits. I don't think this is a major downside if the process can be optimized; it will just be different than the current way we think about refueling a vehicle.
    • Not for military applications...where silence and long range are paramount...or when the device detonates upon arriving at its destination. Or as a supplemental battery to provide emergency power.

  • So the battery supposedly has a 1,000 mile range, but you have to stop every 100 to 200 miles to refill it with water? ... So it only has a 100-200 mile range. And on top of that, it's a disposable (recyclable) battery, not a rechargable one ... pros and cons to that, but it does require an infrastructure of replacement battery stations. Certainly better in my opinion than a charging station, but at least charging stations exist.
    • Yeah, when you suddenly require infrastructure, you get problems. We have gas stations. Now we need battery stations? Charging stations are easy enough, parking garages can provide them and they're easy to install--but the electrical power infrastructure itself needs upgrades. Again, we already have gas stations, and those were slow enough to get rolled out (but they rolled out naturally as cars rolled out), so the problems of initial deployment weren't as severe as the problems of changing or, worse, f

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        The existing gas stations can easily double as battery stations, too.

        Charging stations are much harder because, as you say yourself, the electricity grid is not up to the extra loads (and probably the power plants neither - there is not that much extra generator capacity available).

      • by robot256 (1635039)
        By and large, the U.S. power grid is in a very good position to support the adoption of electric vehicles [discovery.com] while still reducing emissions [energy.gov]. This can not be said about some places, such as India and China [nih.gov], whose power plants are more dirty than gasoline cars.
    • by Nadaka (224565)

      Are you saying the infrastructure to distribute WATER will need to be built? That water is not something that is commonly widely distributed already?

      • No, he said you need an infrastructure to distribute batteries.

        I would contribute that the required quantity of water for any distance is not specified in the article - kinda makes it hard to judge how practical this is. Are we talking coke can or jerry can per 100mi?

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Get a bigger water tank, and automatic refill system. Or maybe I'm thinking too simple now?

  • by houbou (1097327) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:03AM (#43356993) Journal
    In the end, if the aluminium can be recycled completely to make new batteries, then, this has potential. Depends now on cost, safety, ease of maintenance and most of all performance. You can do 1000 miles.. at what average speed?
    • Re:Sounds promising (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:13AM (#43357077)

      The process of refining bauxite to get aluminum is extremely energy intensive. Other than having a pure oxide to put in, it almost is pointless to bother recycling the "battery".

      This is one of the last things I want to see in widespread use, unless we have modern nuclear plants, fusion, or some other next gen energy source, just because turning aluminum oxide back to a usable metal uses so much electricity.

      • by khallow (566160)
        It's no worse than biofuels. And travel generally is a higher value use of energy than converting bauxite to aluminum.
      • Recharging any sort of battery is going to be energy-intensive in (approximate, efficiencies will vary by design) proportion to how energy-dense the depleted battery was. Batteries store, they don't create.

        One would, of course, hope that the aluminum refining is done in areas with some fuel supply other than mountains of delightfully cheap high-sulfur coal; but no battery-based system is going to work except with massive input of electricity(what would be interesting would be to get some numbers on how the

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Of course building those batteries will need a lot of energy - after all, they're batteries, and should be storing a large amount of energy. That's the energy that was used for driving.

        But the beauty of it is that it could easily be powered by renewables. A common problem of renewables is the unreliable short-term supply - cloud blocking the sun, wind suddenly increasing or decreasing, but over a longer time (weeks, months) the overall supply tends to be pretty predictable. Charging batteries - the traditio

      • by n7ytd (230708)

        The process of refining bauxite to get aluminum is extremely energy intensive. Other than having a pure oxide to put in, it almost is pointless to bother recycling the "battery".

        This is one of the last things I want to see in widespread use, unless we have modern nuclear plants, fusion, or some other next gen energy source, just because turning aluminum oxide back to a usable metal uses so much electricity.

        Moving cars and people around is energy intensive. Any battery technology is lossy; it's all about storing the electrical energy in chemical form to make it transportable.

        You are correct: this is about coal-powered cars until we have some better way to generate electricity.

      • unless we have modern nuclear plants, fusion, or some other next gen energy source

        Yet, we have those ready for commercialization and now these aluminum batteries. With only the existing nuclear waste from light water reactors and a build out of distributed Integral Fast Reactors, we could run all the vehicles on Earth for the next 90 years - as of today, with existing technology. Branson even wants to fund them.

        What's stopping us from being off of fossil fuels for transportation? The same governments th

  • with stops required only every couple of hundred miles to refill the system with water.

    Then the system has a range of a "couple of hundred miles" and not 1000. It has a *charge* for 1000 miles, but the car's range is only as good as your worst stat.

  • Kilomile? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AnotherShep (599837) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @10:46AM (#43357379)
    Who the fuck came up with that dumb word? Someone needs a nice hearty punch in the dick for that.
  • Consumers don't want this. They want something to recharge at home during the night without having to visit "stations" in order to refill water or aluminium. Also, we already have a distribution system for electricity and gas, there will be no costly third aluminiumbattery-system.
    • by cusco (717999)
      Good luck actually predicting what consumers "want". Pet rocks, curling irons, and soy milk lattes would never have been on the list of things that I would have predicted that consumers could be convinced that they want/need.
  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:01AM (#43357575) Homepage Journal
    640 miles should be enough for anyone.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:03AM (#43357597)
    There has been a claim of "revolutionary battery technology" from some US energy lab every month- carbon nanotubes, lithium air, etc. But few have ramped up to daily production road use. And few have gone bankrupt with $100s millions US DOE grants along the way.

    I really, truly hope one of these claims becomes reality one day. I would like a 1000-mile electric car in my garage that costs the same as a petro car.
    • by iggymanz (596061)

      very normal for new tech, almost all ideas don't pan out. to extend that something relevant to all the startup-wannabes here on slashdot, making a new software or service is easy, marketing it is extremely hard. so most fail.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:07AM (#43357665) Journal
    Seriously, this looks like a great way to range extend electric cars by putting it on a small tow-able trailer, or something that plugs into the rear similar to the trailer hitch carriers.
  • 1) Can we at least arrest, if not shoot the idiot that thought the word "kilomile" was a good word?

    2)Price wise, the cost to replace 55 pounds of aluminum is about equal to gas. Maybe a little lower if you get paid back some for the used aluminum. Not much, but at least a small gain economically. Pollution wise it is worth it.

    3) Range of a gas car is normally around 300 to 400 miles. (http://solarchargeddriving.com/editors-blog/on-evs-a-phevs/706-whats-your-gasoline-cars-range.html) Range of a car us

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