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1,000-mile EV battery to debut within two years

The joint project between metals specialist Alcoa and green technology company Phinergy has produced a demonstrator featuring an aluminium-air battery, designed as a range extender for the lithium-ion units used in most electric vehicles.

Already used in military applications, the battery uses a reaction with air and water over  50 aluminium plates, each of which can drive a car for up to 20 miles. The unit is designed so that drivers can exhaust the lithium-ion battery and continue using the energy in these cartridges but, as aluminium-air batteries are not rechargeable, the cartridges would have to be replaced afterwards.

Once depleted, the aluminium cartridges can be recycled to produce new ones. Alcoa and Phinergy hope to have the technology commercialised within the next year or two, boosting the range of electric vehicles by up to 1,000 miles without the weight or cost disadvantage of a larger lithium-ion unit.

Martin Briere, President of Alcoa Canada, said: ‘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.’

Aviv Tzidon, CEO of Phinergy, added: ‘Electric vehicle adoption has been slowed by the limited range of regular batteries, causing what is commonly known as range anxiety. 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.’

Alex Grant

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