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Transportation Power

Will Future Tesla Cars Use Metal-Air Batteries? 171

thecarchik writes "Most advocates and industry analysts expect lithium-ion batteries to dominate electric-car energy storage for the rest of this decade. But is Tesla Motors planning to add a new type of battery to increase the range of its electric cars? Tesla has filed for eight separate patents on uses of metal-air battery technology (for example, #20120041625). The metals covered for use in the metal-air battery are aluminum, iron, lithium, magnesium, vanadium, and zinc. Metal-air batteries, which slowly consume their anodes to give off energy, hit the news last month when Israeli startup Phinergy demonstrated its prototype battery and let reporters drive a test vehicle fitted with the energy-storage device. Mounted in a subcompact demonstration car, Phinergy's aluminum-air battery provides 1,000 miles of range, it said, and requires refills of distilled water (which acts as electrolyte in the cells) about every 200 miles."
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Will Future Tesla Cars Use Metal-Air Batteries?

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  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @04:23PM (#43529131)

    There is a misnomer: These are not batteries but fuel cells. The way the aluminum is "recharged" is by hauling the alumina (aluminum oxide) back to a smelting place and spending 15,000 watts per kilo of aluminum made in electricity.

    My concern about this type of battery is the fact that it requires so much energy to "recycle". Already, 1/20 of all US electric output goes to smelt aluminum, and going with aluminum/air fuel cells would add to something that is a ferocious energy user. (Not to knock the aluminum business -- it is a very useful and vital metal, but it is highly dependent on electricity.)

  • by Hylandr ( 813770 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @04:32PM (#43529279)

    I am expecting this Battery doesn't have a 15 gallons to fill either. Today's lead-water batteries only hold a couple of quarts.

    I would expect the new batter to have a capacity maybe 2 to 3 times the size of a regular battery, which would be just about a gallon. Which would come to about 200 milers *per gallon*

    Include a holding tank of water for refills on the road and you can extend that significantly. Perhaps even route the drip from the A/C into the tank ( or windshield reservoir ) and maybe save some weight.

    That said, it would be an amazing circle for technology to have come around to the point of requiring water tanks to be carried at all times in order to move again. That would just be amazing, and tickles my imagination!

  • by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @04:38PM (#43529369) Journal

    Very pure water is very aggressive. For example spray nozzles that spray RO or distilled water get eaten up very quickly.

    Industrially, you have to often add controlled salts back into distilled water to keep it from destroying your machines by dissolving them.

    So it's entirely plausible that distilled water had a negative effect on her teeth.

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