April 04, 2013

A Car that Runs off Aluminum

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes ponders the science behind this story over at Phys-Ord.

It seems that an Israeli company called Phenergy has developed a metal/oxygen battery that runs off water.

Sort of...

Actually the aluminum is the anode, the air is the cathode and water acts as the electrolyte needed for the reaction to work. These batteries have huge energy density but the life of the plates is measured in a few thousand miles (about one thousand currently with water fill-ups every 200 miles in the prototype). 

Additionally, Phenergy seems to have licked a CO2 issue that was plaguing this type of battery.

In this scheme the aluminum is an energy carrier for whatever power plant making the plates so it's no different from any other battery in that regard. OTOH this looks to be VASTLY cleaner than most batteries.

This seems to be a big improvement in range and convenience  over normal electric cars. The fact that changing the plates in the battery is going to need to happen about as often as changing ones oil might seem to be a deal breaker except that aluminum is cheap and recyclable and if the plate costs can be kept down it might be doable. ( In this sense the system is a BIG improvement on previous metal/air batteries that used zinc. ) It might well be something a motorist can do themselves if so inclined.

There are a lot of questions here, but this may well have potential. Of course its affordability and practicality depend on how cheaply the aluminum can be recycled and how easily the plates can be replaced. Therefore, a whole  lot depends on how cheap the grid power is.

In any event, it's interesting....

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 12:48 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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