Alcoa and Israel-based Phinergy jointly showcased Phinergy’s aluminum-air EV demonstrator at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montréal. In February, the two companies had announced a joint development agreement to develop further Phinergy’s aluminum-air primary (non-rechargeable) battery technology (earlier post).
The companies are collaborating on new materials, processes and components to commercialize the metal-air battery technology. Dr. Raymond Kilmer, executive vice-president and chief technology officer at Alcoa, and Aviv Tzidon, founder and CEO of Phinergy, are presenting the aluminum-air battery electric car project at the Canadian International Aluminium Conference (CIAC) in Montreal. The Alcoa-Phinergy car will be on display at the conference today and tomorrow.
Aluminium–air cells are high-energy density primary (non-rechargeable) batteries; they use a catalytic air cathode in combination with an electrolyte and an aluminum anode, and offer a theoretical specific energy of 8.1 kWh/kg of Al—second only to the Li-air battery (13.0 kWh/kg). (Earlier post.)
When used in an aluminum-air battery, aluminum turns into aluminum hydroxide. Aluminum hydroxide can then be recycled in the aluminum factory, enabling a closed and sustainable life cycle.
Parasitic hydrogen evolution caused by anode corrosion during the discharge process is a well-known obstacle to commercialization of Al-air systems, because it not only causes additional consumption of the anode material but also increases the ohmic loss in the cell.
|2013 video of Phinergy Al-air EV demonstrator. Click to enlarge.|
Phinergy says that it has developed a proprietary process of anode production resulting in increased use of aluminum energy, while reducing the unwanted chemical reactions. The company says that it has also developed an advanced battery management system to increase the energetic utilization of the battery.
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. Québec’s focus on growing electric-powered transportation with the goal of being a leader in green technology, provides a strong backdrop for today’s debut. Alcoa and Phinergy look forward to collaborating with the Quebec government to advance this technology and the potential development of the aluminum-air battery in the province. Furthermore, our aluminum production facility in Baie-Comeau is well positioned to supply the aluminum for the battery.—Martin Brière, President of Alcoa Canada