Better Place may have failed in Israel, but another Israeli EV startup shows promise. Phinergy’s air-aluminum car has a 1,000-mile range, substantially beating a conventional EV, and now a major European car maker has invested in it, according to the company. (Bloomberg took it for a spin recently).
Metal-air batteries get energy from the interaction of oxygen and metal. The aluminum is an anode; the oxygen a cathode; and the water an electrolyte. When drivers of the car use up their standard lithium battery’s power, they switch on the range-extender, adding water to set off a reaction in the trunk.
At 55 pounds, the battery pack—which is made up of 50 batteries, each representing a further 20-miles of range—is much lighter than a standard lithium-ion battery, with much greater energy density. But the aluminum does deteriorate over time.
Phinergy has signed up with an undisclosed company to produce cars in 2017. But there are questions to answer before then. (Unfortunately, the company did not respond to ours.) For one, producing high-grade aluminum is energy-intensive, likely giving the car a high overall footprint. For another, we need to know how often the aluminum may need to be replaced, and how expensive that might be.