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Will Future Tesla Cars Use Metal-Air Batteries?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the powered-by-the-tears-of-oil-execs dept.

Transportation 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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If you build it..... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43528603)

They will buy it, but seeing is believing

Re:If you build it..... (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#43528641)

Whatever they do...PLEASE start making the roadster again, put the battery in it, and get it down to the price level of a Vette.

We will buy it....in droves.

Re:If you build it..... (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43528989)

They can't.
The Lotus Elise is no more.

Re:If you build it..... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#43529053)

They can't. The Lotus Elise is no more.

I thought I'd heard they did actually have a plan B for this to get the body made for a *new* roadster?

Re:If you build it..... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43529133)

Maybe buy Evora bodies. They are not that far apart.

Re:If you build it..... (1)

rsborg (111459) | about a year ago | (#43529511)

Whatever they do...PLEASE start making the roadster again, put the battery in it, and get it down to the price level of a Vette.

We will buy it....in droves.

I'm the opposite of you - I was drooling for the Model S much more than I ever did for the Roadster. For each one of you, I'm betting that Tesla sees many more folks like me.

Re:If you build it..... (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43529105)

They will buy it, but seeing is believing

Do you think air batteries could become vapor ware?

My car has a range of 6000 miles (4, Funny)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43528615)

1,000 miles of range, it said, and requires refills of distilled water about every 200 miles.

My car has a range of 6000 miles. That is how often I have to stop to change the motor oil. Of course, I also have to stop every 300 miles to get some gas.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43528649)

For that matter, exactly how much will that distilled water cost you every 200 miles?

Last time I looked for it, distilled water cost more than gas (mind you that was back when gas was 2 bucks a gallon, not the 4-4.50 it is now in the US)

Factoring that in along with anode replacement makes those batteries sound a *LOT* less pleasant compared to gasoline.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

wc_paladin (989918) | about a year ago | (#43528705)

Distilled water is $0.99/gal around here.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

prelelat (201821) | about a year ago | (#43528759)

True but you can't make your own gas as easily as you could make your own distilled water. When you think about it after initial costs you could create distilled water for significantly less than gas. Once your still is built your costs are heating(electric or gas) and tap water.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about a year ago | (#43528887)

you could make your own distilled water.

...which requires further energy expenditure on your part. Or you could buy it at the store where that's done on an industrial scale for "only" a significant fraction of what my gasoline costs me right now (about 1/3rd the price today). This adds to the charging cost, the cost of refitting my home electrical system, the difficulty of finding a place to charge outside my home, and the premium I'd pay for this vehicle over getting a perfectly functional used car for less than $5,000.

To quote the great Lucasian philosopher Lando Calrisian, "This deal just keeps getting worse!"

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (0)

GigsVT (208848) | about a year ago | (#43529285)

It's not as if distilled water falls from the sky for free or anything.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

Cramer (69040) | about a year ago | (#43529451)

*cough*IT DOESN'T*cough*

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year ago | (#43529469)

Distilled water in fact does not fall from the sky for free.
 

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43529681)

Distilled water is $0.99/gal around here.

Uh, Distilled water WAS $0.99/gal around there...now it will be measured out in ounces...from a pump.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43528725)

For that matter, exactly how much will that distilled water cost you every 200 miles?

Last time I looked for it, distilled water cost more than gas (mind you that was back when gas was 2 bucks a gallon, not the 4-4.50 it is now in the US)

Factoring that in along with anode replacement makes those batteries sound a *LOT* less pleasant compared to gasoline.

Distilled water is usually about $0.90/gallon at the grocery store.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (2)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about a year ago | (#43529347)

Oh sure, if you're willing to buy the cheap stuff. Tesla drivers are going to want name brand water with pictures of mountains on the label.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

Kotoku (1531373) | about a year ago | (#43528729)

A jug of distilled water is about $2. I don't know what kind of car you have where that much gas will take you 200 miles.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43529179)

You're assuming it only takes 1gal of distilled water every 200 km. The article doesn't specify an amount. For all we know, it's 16gal of water every fill.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (4, Informative)

crunchygranola (1954152) | about a year ago | (#43529629)

The so-called aluminum-air battery actually consumes water also as part of its fuel [wikipedia.org] . The consumption of water is an equal mass with the aluminum consumed, and that 1000 mile batter pack weighs 25 kg, so it should consume 25 kg of water, or about 7 gallons per 1000 miles. So the water consumption cost will be around 0.6 cents per mile.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (2, Interesting)

Hylandr (813770) | about a year ago | (#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!

Error in your calculation: 200 milers *per gallon* (2)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#43529767)

re 200 milers *per gallon*

First of all, the MPG (miles per gallon) quoted for combustion engines consuming standard gasoline or diesel gasoline are stated for the amount of miles driven per gallon of fuel expended.
.
The "gallon of water" expended is not the consumible fuel, but part of the solvent required to dissolve the metal which serves as the consumible fuel. So you're comparing apples and oranges, or to use a car analogy, you're comparing a consumible fuel (gasoline) to a solvent (distilled water) rather than comparing it to the cost of the dissolved metal electrode lost (the consumed electrode is the fuel).
.
So to get a real cost comparison, you'd have to know how many miles (M) you'll get out of the battery and what the replacement cost of the battery is (B), and add it to the cost of the "demineralized" distilled water that will have to be added until the battery needs to be replaced (will that be 100 "fill ups" or 267 fill ups and how many gallons will it be?) Say you need G gallons, and distilled water costs D per gallon. So now your miles are M, and your total cost (not counting oil, repairs, and whatnot) is B + G*D.
.
So your cost per mile is M \div (B + G*D). The IRS allows you to deduct about 0.555 dollars per mile for business use, so say that a car costs in toto 55.5 cents per mile. Say you've got a car that gets 30 MPG nowadays, and gas is just under $4 per gallon. You're paying 13.33 cents per mile in consumible fuel costs for that gas combustion engine. (So the IRS is guessing that the rest of the cost for running your car [insurance, maintenance, oil changes, etc] is about 40 cents per mile). Can your electric car really come in under that cost? Tesla wants to charge $15000 for a 60kwh battery that may (only "may") last 6 or eight years. What's the replacement electrode and battery cost for this thing? When there are concrete numbers out there, then it's viability or utility can be calculated.
.
But you can't just count the cost of the distilled water or calculate a miles per gallon of distilled water when the distilled water alone is NOT the consumible fuel component!

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43529741)

A jug of distilled water is about $2. I don't know what kind of car you have where that much gas will take you 200 miles.

A jug of distilled water used to cost about $2. That was yesterday.

I don't know what kind of logic you're using thinking that water won't be priced higher than gasoline is today once this technology comes out, because every fucking thing in our greedy, corrupt history says otherwise.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43528743)

For that matter, exactly how much will that distilled water cost you every 200 miles?

My health-nut sister had a counter-top water distiller than made a gallon of water for about $0.25 worth of electricity. That was expensive California electricity. If it was made on a large scale for cars, I am sure the cost could be much lower.

My sister stopped using the still when she started getting cavities from lack of both fluoride and calcium. It turns out that tap water is a lot healthier than distilled water.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (2, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a year ago | (#43529065)

It was probably the 'healthy whole grains' that gave her the cavities. The flouride just masks the effect a bit. That and a K2 deficiency.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (4, Interesting)

GigsVT (208848) | about a year ago | (#43529369)

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.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (2)

Hylandr (813770) | about a year ago | (#43529303)

The Fluoride, not.

Other minerals in the water absolutely more healthy. If you drink pure water you MUST supplement or face much more grievous consequences than cavities.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (2)

iroll (717924) | about a year ago | (#43529513)

Many water sources are naturally fluoridated, and having a minimum fluoride content can be directly correlated with occurrence of cavities in the population. Fluoride is not any less natural than any other salt (sorry, "mineral"), and varies geographically like all the rest.

My city has fluoridation equipment that it never uses, because the source water always exceeds the recommended dose.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (3, Informative)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year ago | (#43529653)

The Fluoride argument is like the Stem Cell argument. Stem Cell proponents shout "STEM CELLS STEM CELLS! LOOK, SO MUCH POTENTIAL, LOOK HOW MANY TREATMENTS HAVE SUCCEEDED!" ... and you look and they're all Adult Stem Cell treatments, while people are arguing over killing babies.

Fluoride in ground water comes from fluoride crystal deposits--it's F+ ion. Fluoridated water has F+ ion as well, IIRC... I may be wrong there. The way it gets there, however, is by adding either a fluoride salt (NaF) or complex fluorochemicals, some of which are actually acids. This is toxic industrial waste with hazmat handling restrictions.

Yeah, you want fluoride in your water. You want it in trace amounts, though; and you want F+ ion, not all the other garbage that gets dumped in your water to get F+ ion into it artificially. If they artificially produced F+ ion by stripping it out of toxic waste, you'd get something vastly different--and the argument would be entirely stupid. Instead, the argument is between people shouting "FLUORIDE" while the reality is between Fluoride and Toxic Fluoride Compounds.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

Hylandr (813770) | about a year ago | (#43529689)

This, Oh, to have Mod points for UP, THIS!

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43530203)

UP this nonsense? Do you really think that the artificially added F+ ion is any different from the natural one? Hint, they're chemically identical.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (5, Informative)

iroll (717924) | about a year ago | (#43530195)

Ever heard of having just enough rope to hang yourself? That's what happens with a lot of scientific arguments, just like you implied with your stem cell analogy.

Fluoride in ground water comes from fluoride crystal deposits--it's F+ ion. Fluoridated water has F+ ion as well, IIRC... I may be wrong there. The way it gets there, however, is by adding either a fluoride salt (NaF)...

Yes. Basically. Fluoride is an anion (F-), and your "fluoride crystals" are fluoride salts. Fluoride (the ion) must have a counter ion with it; very simple forms would be NaF (sodium fluoride) or HF (hydrofluoric acid).

or complex fluorochemicals, some of which are actually acids.

Define "complex," and why do we care if they are acids? The water won't be acidic when it reaches your tap.

This is toxic industrial waste with hazmat handling restrictions.

This statement adds nothing to your argument. There are plenty of beneficial compounds that are toxic at high concentrations and regulated as hazards. Furthermore, there are plenty of beneficial compounds that are byproducts of other processes. You're thinking of Hexafluorosilicic acid, and you're talking about it like it's dihydrogen monoxide--you know, the dangerous toxic waste that kills millions yearly and was used by Hitler and Stalin.

Yeah, you want fluoride in your water. You want it in trace amounts, though; and you want F+ ion, not all the other garbage that gets dumped in your water to get F+ ion into it artificially.

The amount added to drinking water is a trace amount, and may be less than many natural waters have. If the concentrations are the same, what's the problem?

Furthermore, in the case of the two examples you gave, the "other garbage" (also in trace amounts) is sodium or silica, both of which you unquestionably consume in much greater quantities daily.

Yes, that's right, silica. According to wikipedia, in water at neutral pH, Hexafluorosilicic acid decomposes into silica, and the F- ions that kids crave:

SiF6^2- + 2 H2O => 6 F- + SiO2 + 4 H+

Silica, by the way, is the active ingredient in sand.

If they artificially produced F+ ion by stripping it out of toxic waste, you'd get something vastly different

No, no you wouldn't, because you can't just strip out the fluoride. That's not how chemistry works. You could spend money to convert it into another fluoride compound (like NaF), but the safety of the consumer would be exactly the same either way, as long as it was pure. In fact, it's probably better that they don't use NaF, because we get plenty of Na on our french fries.

--and the argument would be entirely stupid.

No comment.

Instead, the argument is between people shouting "FLUORIDE" while the reality is between Fluoride and Toxic Fluoride Compounds.

It's really a shame that you have no idea what you're talking about, because there is actually a huge issue at stake that is just over the horizon from your argument, and that is the growing use of fluorinated carbon compounds. These are persistent, carcinogenic, endocrine disrupting, bioaccumulating, and every other dangerous word you can think of.

If you want to talk about that, then I'm sure we'd agree that we don't want halocarbons of any kind used any more than absolutely necessary (are you listening to me, State of California?), but unfortunately you've been suckered by a bunch of pseudoscientific babble.

Solar Distillation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43529743)

I built a small solar distiller with misc parts I had on hand, and it costs nothing to distill as much as I want

It even works on overcast days just fine.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (2)

sulimma (796805) | about a year ago | (#43529245)

Botteled distilled water costs 11ct per Barrel (0,3ct/Gallon) on Alibaba.com.
The price in industrial quantities without bottles will be much lower.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (5, Informative)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year ago | (#43529885)

Factoring that in along with anode replacement makes those batteries sound a *LOT* less pleasant compared to gasoline.

Funny how everyone thinks gasoline is the perfect fuel. As for Gasoline's pleasantness:

1 out of every 5 fires is an vehicle fire

33 car fires are reported across the US every hour

one person per day died in a car fire between 2002 and 2005

258,000 vehicl fires in 2007 with 395 deaths and 1675 injuries.

Vehicle fires cost Americans 1.4 billion dollars in 2007

Citation: http://www.chandlerlawgroup.com/library/national-vehicle-fire-statistics.cfm [chandlerlawgroup.com]

People are just used to cars, and have familiarity bred contempt for Gasoline, a poisonous, Carcinogenic liquid that sits near the line of deflagration and explosiveness. It has awesome energy density and portability, but that doesn't chenge the danger in it that most of us choose to ignore.

I doubt the issue you bring up is all that big a problem anyhow. Likely the battery replacement will be just that - pull the battery after a thousand miles. All done by the same service station that changes your oil. Then the AlOx gets recycled. The distilled water will indeed have some cost. Probably will come down when produced in bulk amounts needed

The interesting thing about this technology is that it doesn't require petrochemicals. Doesn't require much exotic materials either. So you can expect a Koch fueled disinformation campaign very soon. the rest of the world will be driving around in these while Americans will deny that the concept works.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

jandrese (485) | about a year ago | (#43528679)

I think it is 1000 miles of range until you have to replace the batteries entirely, which really isn't very far. It's not quite enough range to get you from Boston to Atlanta.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | about a year ago | (#43528787)

Yeah. It looks like these are nonrechargeable cells.

In short, a car that consumes aluminum instead of gasoline to run.

There's a brief reference to rechargeable zinc-air cells - but the aluminum-air cells seem to be nonrechargeable.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43529029)

Aluminum is simple to refine again and can be done without fossil fuels. It uses quite of bit of electricity, but so does recharging a car battery.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

aurizon (122550) | about a year ago | (#43529473)

We need to assess the overall efficiency of the process that uses aluminum in the battery and then electro-refines it via the Hall process.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (2)

crunchygranola (1954152) | about a year ago | (#43529781)

According to Alcoa, the world's largest producer of aluminium, the best smelters use about 13 kilowatt hours (46.8 megajoules) of electrical energy to produce one kilogram of aluminium; the worldwide average is closer to 15 kWh/kg (54 MJ/kg) [mrreid.org] . Each kilogram of aluminum in the battery produces about 8 KWH of energy, so the efficiency from plant to engine is around 60%, maybe a bit lower than charging a battery from house-delivered electricity (10% transmission loss, 80% charging efficiency, 0.9*0.8 = 0.72).

The cost of that electricity though will be the wholesale grid cost, about 3.5 cents/KWH. What do you pay for your electricity (probably three times that and up)?

Aluminum is a good way to export electricity. Iceland does this with its hydropower.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (4, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#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.)

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43529205)

Then the only question is what mass of aluminum do they need. Adding more electrical output for aluminum production should not be that bad, since it is a known load and unlikely to vary.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

crunchygranola (1954152) | about a year ago | (#43529883)

(Not to knock the aluminum business -- it is a very useful and vital metal, but it is highly dependent on electricity.)

That is actually the point. It is sometimes called "solid electricity" - its production cost is almost entirely the electricity that goes into it. This fuel cell pack makes use of that efficiently packaged energy. Since you can use the cheapest source of electricity in the world to make the fuel plates, it is very economical.

Swapping in a new plate pack every 1000 miles is likely to much less of a hassle than a nightly charging regimen (if the system has a decent design).

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43529009)

Who the hell drives from Boston to Atlanta?
Have you ever heard of an airplane?

If the batteries are no more expensive than 1000 miles worth of gasoline it could still work. I have my doubts about that price though.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year ago | (#43529135)

I don't drive from Boston to Atlanta, but I do drive between DC and Northern New York and that is only 400 miles, but it is another 400 miles back. In the current air travel environment it is not worth it to fly that distance, and train service to my destination is inconvenient to say the least. So, an electric that gave me 1,000 miles range would start making electrics quite viable for me as my primary vehicle.

Of course, that is assuming that the technology didn't require some ridiculous expense to operate it at that range. Replacing a non-rechargeable battery is acceptable to me, but only if it was reasonably inexpensive and convenient to obtain supplies of.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (0)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a year ago | (#43529139)

>Who the hell drives from Boston to Atlanta?

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev probably had plans to do that a few days ago.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#43529233)

Who the hell drives from Boston to Atlanta?

Not when there's Amtrak.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43529219)

Article says you fill it with distilled water because it's able to be re-charged electronically (most metal-air batteries are disposable). So it sounds like as long as you keep the water topped off, you can go 1000 miles and then recharge it at your outlet at home. I Wonder how much water boils off while it's recharging.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

holmstar (1388267) | about a year ago | (#43529913)

No... the distilled water is consumed by the reaction. The test cell apparently only has enough room for a certain amount of water, so you have to refill it every 200 miles or so. Presumably, one could build a larger reservoir and not have to refill the distilled water, but after 1000 miles, the aluminum is all used up and the cell has to be removed and replaced.

The article did say that they are also working on a zinc-air battery that is claimed to be rechargeable, but the aluminum air battery is not.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43528741)

6000? That's nothing if they run it on Elon's ego.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | about a year ago | (#43528749)

RTFA and I think the editor was confused. It says 1,000 miles uninterrupted range is possible. I believe the 200 mile number was just for the prototype.

In the test car, the water must be refilled "every few hundred kilometers"--perhaps every 200 miles.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

goingToSay (1192935) | about a year ago | (#43529033)

From TFA: "One such question: How easy would it be to replace the aluminum plates--and at what minimum range an automaker thinks such a replacement would be viable (1,000 miles? 5,000 miles? more?)."

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | about a year ago | (#43529365)

As far as we know, there are no vehicles on the market today that offer 1,000 miles of continuous range using either gasoline or diesel fuel.

Re:My car has a range of 6000 miles (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year ago | (#43529581)

It's more like having to change your fuel tank every 1000 miles.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43528627)

But they'll be guaranteed to return home safely if supplied with a constant supply of liquid Johnny Cash

Rrrrrecharge (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about a year ago | (#43528639)

That's all good and well, but I get angry at my Lithium ion batteries when their capacity shrinks after 100 cycles.

Phinergy's aluminum-air battery provides 1,000 miles of range ... and requires refills of distilled water ... about every 200 miles.

Wait, you're telling me this thing gets 5, FIVE cycles before its off to the recycling heap? Good luck with that!

Re:Rrrrrecharge (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43528703)

Metal-air batteries don't even pretend to be rechargables.

The little ones(most notably the zinc-air coin cells that pharmacies stock, heavily overpriced, in areas where gullible old people with hearing aids might find them) you just throw away.

The bigger ones are either a 'send back to factory' arrangement or a 'the anodes are an FRU' arrangement.

Re:Rrrrrecharge (2)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43528785)

Metal-air batteries don't even pretend to be rechargables.

Right. Remember, primary batteries have higher energy densities than rechargable batteries. An electric car loaded up with non-rechargeable lithium batteries would have a range over twice what it has with rechargeables. Then the batteries would have to be replaced.

Someone might do this for a race car. As a production product, not too useful.

Re:Rrrrrecharge (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43529087)

Why?
If the battery costs less than the equivalent amount of gas it could work.

Re:Rrrrrecharge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43529499)

Labor involvement. If you are dealing with a situation that is already high labor (formula 1 racecar), the addition of another specialized tool to swap battery packs is not a significant factor (since it will replace the already specialized speed-fueler mechanism in use currently).
If you are dealing with a low-labor situation (I put the nozzle in the hole and pull the handle), replacing that with a more laborious option (partially trained attendant uses race-grade hardware and hopefully doesn't break anything) will reduce viability.
If the useful lifetime were on par with some other vehicle maintenance schedule, it would not be as big a hurdle, but 1000 miles is just too short. If they added some distance, I could see "oil change and battery swap" as a standard bit of regular maintenance, but it needs more work to be viable.

Re:Rrrrrecharge (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about a year ago | (#43529747)

There's no reason to assume that the battery can't be mounted in such a way as to be easily swappable. You might not get your minimum-wage gas station attendant to do it, but you can spend a bit of money on someone who knows what they're doing and still be ahead of gas. It's all just chicken/egg shit - not enough people to make battery-swapping stations economical, not enough battery-swapping stations to make people want electric cars.

Re:Rrrrrecharge (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year ago | (#43528789)

No, it gets one cycle and you have to add water.

Re:Rrrrrecharge (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about a year ago | (#43528821)

Oh, well in that case, sign me up! :P

Dunno. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43528659)

More importantly, will future news articles trade the opinions of "industry analysts" for hard facts and press statements? I'm not calling Betteridge, I'm just tired of these will they-won't they fluff pieces being passed off as actual news.

Re:Dunno. (1)

Hunter Shoptaw (2655515) | about a year ago | (#43528783)

This.

I read the description and the article and found no evidence that Tesla plans to incorporate a battery of the kind described. The suppositions are based off of other suppositions. The fact that a company patented something doesn't mean they're going to use it and basing company tactics off of something that minute is simply fishing for a story that's not there.

The fact that people have strong opinions about a misinformed fluff-piece is sad.

Not all consume their anodes (1)

Ken_g6 (775014) | about a year ago | (#43528671)

I gather zinc-air cells would be rechargeable if it weren't for the water in the air. I've heard of various companies working on rechargeable zinc-air, lithium-air, and even sodium-air.

Re:Not all consume their anodes (1)

GigsVT (208848) | about a year ago | (#43528751)

Why would you think that? Al + O to Aluminum Oxide isn't easily reversible... at least not back into anything that's a useful anode, water or no water.

Re:Not all consume their anodes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43529181)

Because he didn't mention aluminum?

Re:Not all consume their anodes (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43529273)

Tell your local aluminum refiner that.

The GP never mentioned Al though.

Re:Not all consume their anodes (1)

holmstar (1388267) | about a year ago | (#43530025)

Refining aluminum hydroxide back into pure aluminum requires a heavy industrial multistage process that would not be easily scaled down to something that would fit in your car. It's like suggesting that you should have a steel mill in your trunk. Not going to happen.

Maybe for range extension, but not day to day. (1)

guidryp (702488) | about a year ago | (#43528677)

I looked up the recycling efficiency of Aluminum in this case and found it was about 15%. This is worse efficiency than the lowest number you see for an Gas Engine. So using something like this for day to day usage seems out of the question.

But with the right packaging it might be a decent range extender in addition to a Lithium main battery pack.

Re:Maybe for range extension, but not day to day. (3, Informative)

miroku000 (2791465) | about a year ago | (#43528835)

I looked up the recycling efficiency of Aluminum in this case and found it was about 15%. This is worse efficiency than the lowest number you see for an Gas Engine. So using something like this for day to day usage seems out of the question.

But with the right packaging it might be a decent range extender in addition to a Lithium main battery pack.

Internal combustion engines are only 13% efficient. "The total fuel efficiency during the cycle process in Al/air electric vehicles (EVs) can be 15% (present stage) or 20% (projected), comparable to that of internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs) (13%). " See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium%E2%80%93air_battery [wikipedia.org]

Re:Maybe for range extension, but not day to day. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43530155)

Posting AC to preserve mods... ICEs are considerably better than 13% [wikipedia.org] . And you don't have to throw them away after 1000 miles...

Re:Maybe for range extension, but not day to day. (1)

miroku000 (2791465) | about a year ago | (#43528929)

I looked up the recycling efficiency of Aluminum in this case and found it was about 15%. This is worse efficiency than the lowest number you see for an Gas Engine. So using something like this for day to day usage seems out of the question.

But with the right packaging it might be a decent range extender in addition to a Lithium main battery pack.

This is exactly what they are using it for in the car in the article. They have a main battery which has a range of 100 miles. So, most of the time, you aren't using up the new battery at all. This makes it a lot more viable. I mean, I dive my car like 10 miles per day most of the time. And then once in a while, I will take a road trip and drive it like 500 miles. So, if every Walmart sold replacement batteries, and gas stations sold distilled water, then this could work out ok.

Re:Maybe for range extension, but not day to day. (1)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#43529199)

This concerns me as well, but there is one advantage of using aluminum: The fact that aluminum is portable.

In a place that has ample hydroelectric or solar power that can easily power a smelting plant, aluminum can be refined from aluminum oxide. Then, the metal can be hauled to wherever it is needed. This way, the impact of the high energy usage can be minimized.

Re:Maybe for range extension, but not day to day. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43529295)

I would like to buy these magic Gas Engines you sell, where can I find them?

Does this number include getting the fuel to the ICE you describe?

Nope. (1)

Jack Malmostoso (899729) | about a year ago | (#43528719)

Short answer, no.

Long answer, not in the foreseeable future, unless someone strikes their best luck.
Metal air batteries (lithium in particular) suffer from a bajillion problem that are not even close to solving in the lab, let alone in a device.
Someone might within 5 years come up with a working lab demonstrator, but something with enough power to move a car (and a "sports" car as a Tesla at that) is way off, considering the current state of research. So considering that the patents will be expired when the technology might be ready, it's just empty internet talk.

Re:Nope. (1)

savuporo (658486) | about a year ago | (#43528879)

Betteridge's law

Swap like propane tanks and we got a deal... (1)

PseudoCoder (1642383) | about a year ago | (#43528755)

If I could swap the batteries for topped ones like propane tanks at Lowes or Walmart every two or three weeks that would be a workable proposition for me, depending on cost. These places are already all over the place and have large storage volumes to store the stock and the empties. That's a reasonable infrastructure shortcut and these outlets would love to get you in the door to buy other stuff; that's why they have Redboxes and the like. I think they'd be on board. Soon you would see refueling stations that would not need all the environmental hoops of gas stations and would just be a matter of storage volume and inventory control, as well as providing the distilled water.

If it's even half that easy I'd bet the lobbyists would fight this tooth and nail, since it would almost pull the rug from under the oil industry. I'd almost dare to be an early adopter.

Re:Swap like propane tanks and we got a deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43528995)

I've advocated swapable batteries as a solution for years. We need the equivant of automotive sized (robotic arm loadable) AA batteries. Series and parallel as needed to get the power and capacitiy needed. The batteries can then be quick or trickle charged locally (and at off-peak hours). The cost of the charge would then be the cost of electricity, an allocated amount for future replacement batteries (assuming you'll also get a set of new ones when you buy your car), depreciation and costs on the infrastructure, and a profit margin for the retailer.

We used swapable battery systems like this in our warehouses for years for forklifts and pallet jacks (swap batteries between shifts; although they weren't a universal size) until the capacity of the batteries and quick charging replaced the need for end of shift swaps.

Quick charging isn't the goal. Quick "get me back on the road" is. If i'm back on the road in a few minutes, i don't really care how long (or when) the battery was charged.

1000 mile range for 25 KG of Aluminum Air Battery (1)

MintyKiwi (2904129) | about a year ago | (#43528765)

from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium%E2%80%93air_battery), research shows each one of these 1000 Miles packs would cost around $30 + tax + misc = $150? even then it is still competitive with Gas prices nowadays... The only question I can think of is the sustainability of this if it becomes widely adopted.

Re:1000 mile range for 25 KG of Aluminum Air Batte (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43528957)

Theoretical energy density - 6000-8000 watt-hours per kilogram.
Forget cars, I want these for my laptop on trips.
Who wants 125+ hour battery life?

Re:1000 mile range for 25 KG of Aluminum Air Batte (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43529333)

Why would sustainability become a problem?
Aluminum is recycled not lost, so no worries there. A lot of electricity will be needed for that, but that is already true.

Re:1000 mile range for 25 KG of Aluminum Air Batte (1)

MintyKiwi (2904129) | about a year ago | (#43529589)

yes but similar to what other posts has pointed out, the efficiency of such recycling operation to make anodes again is the deciding factor.

Re:1000 mile range for 25 KG of Aluminum Air Batte (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | about a year ago | (#43529609)

Does the process to recycle the aluminum battery require less energy than the process to produce gasoline?

Attention! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43528799)

I've just poured hot grits down my pants.

Thank you!

Re:Attention! (1)

Iskender (1040286) | about a year ago | (#43529129)

I've just poured hot grits down my pants.

You should have poured distilled water into your metal-air battery instead. Instead, your car has ground to a halt.

Also you now have hot grits in your pants.

I hereby invoke Betteridge's .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43528841)

I hereby invoke Betteridge's law of headlines.

if slashdotted trends like (3, Funny)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#43528855)

the pi and the arduino are any indication, the new Tesla vehicles will be made entirely of metal-air batteries. the user will interface with the radio using ruby, and the turnsignals will be excreted in realtime by a makerbot.

No. (1)

HaeMaker (221642) | about a year ago | (#43528991)

These are probably defensive patents.

Is a gas generator so hard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43529025)

Why are we even arguing about the range of batteries? Just start building good electric only automobiles already. The source of the power is irrelevant.

How hard is it to manufacture a light weight mini gas generator trailer you can pull behind your electric vehicle?

Why can't we simply build the best damn electric car technology allows, without crudding it up with all kinds of hybrid gas engine transmission shit? An external generator would be way more efficient if it didn't need to an over engineered drive system to 'also' transfer power to the wheels.

You can drive forever with unlimited range pulling a generator trailer. The generator could attach directly to the car like a bike rack, and be used for other useful things where you might need portable power.

Or you could skip the generator entirely if all you do is city driving and save more weight and cost. You could rent a generator for long trips. You could even skip the costly batteries and enjoy a simplified electric drive powered only by the generator.

For cripe's sakes people. Train locomotives figured this out decades ago. Gas goes to a generator, and electrical power from the generator drives the motors. It really is that simple.

Re:Is a gas generator so hard? (1)

GigsVT (208848) | about a year ago | (#43529207)

Series hybrids are really inefficient in small sizes. I've built one. It mostly sucked.

They have to do all the convoluted series-parallel shit because it's the only thing that even gets you a slight edge over straight gasoline in those sizes.

I think someone once said the first rule of engineering is that nothing scales. That's true for scaling down as well. The things that work well in a 4400HP train engine that rarely varies its output aren't going to necessarily work in a 150HP car that has to go zero to 60 in less than 8 seconds with constant stopping and starting.

Re:Is a gas generator so hard? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43529389)

Can we just go to diesel at least?
How about selling a nice low drag vehicle without the expensive hybrid stuff. I am thinking Prius with Diesel Golf engine.

Re:Is a gas generator so hard? (1)

sulimma (796805) | about a year ago | (#43529755)

Re:Is a gas generator so hard? (1)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#43529465)

I've seen people around Austin run around with plug in Priuses or Nissan Leafs that have a cargo rack and a Honda 2000 watt generator sitting in it.

There are other ways too. An genset can be mounted under the vehicle with a gas tank. When the battery dips below a certain voltage, it fires up.

I agree -- focus on building a top notch electric vehicle, and build in a electric generator, such as an offering from Onan or Kohler. A Honda inverter would be the ideal, because it runs at a variable RPM, letting the inverter make clean power, as opposed to having the engine have to run exactly at 3600 RPM (3000 if in Europe) to have usable power.

Bring enough water (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43529151)

Why stop to refill water. Just add a big enough water tank to the car and and you can go further without refueling. Steam locomotives have done this for years and it works flawlessly, though it would be best if a car wouldn't need a trailer to store all the water for the engine.

The important question here is: how much water is actually needed? If water usage is too high, then getting enough clean water could be a bigger problem than range between refuels. Carrying a heavy water tank is also far from ideal. Batteries are heavy enough as it is.

Range extender (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#43529163)

According to the Phinergy link, they're using the battery as a range extender.

They propose that an electric car would have Lithium rechargeable batteries, and also a fuel-air battery (55 lbs of extra weight). You would charge your car normally for "drive around town" daily use, but have the extended range when you need it. (Such as, when you suddenly have to drive out to the Everglades to get rid of a body.)

At 1000 miles per battery and 20 MPG times $4/Gal = $200. If they can make the unit cost less than that, it makes a lot of sense.

Aluminum is around $1/lb, so the bulk aluminum cost should be around $50 (assuming most of the weight comes from aluminum). That's not a lot of profit margin for a tech product, but as a consumer product it might be.

Re:Range extender (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43529791)

Watch the price of Al, if this becomes a real product. :/

Not really a battery (1)

slew (2918) | about a year ago | (#43530267)

Although some folks call this energy source a metal-air "battery", since it has an anode and cathode and an electrolyte, in many situations, more like a metal-air fuel cell than a "battery" as its anode is consumed in a reaction that is not efficiently reversable from an energy point of view (if at all in some varients) and thus not rechargeable in the traditional sense of an automobile battery.

Of course, this doesn't make it unusable. In fact, quick mechanical replacemement of the fuel that stores the energy is the one big advantage of gasoline powered engines, that might be enabled by a metal-air fuel cell (you might be able to empty the old reactant and replace with new metal-air fuel pellets in filling station). But to say this is a battery technology does not really convey what is exciting about this technology.

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