The concept behind electric cars is solid enough: Rather than use air polluting gasoline to power motors, use an electrically charged battery instead.
But when it comes to driving these eco-friendly vehicles on an actual highway, many consumers suffer from “range anxiety” – the fear that their car batteries won’t have enough power to get them to their destination. Plus, it’s not as if there are many places where drivers can “fill up” on electricity in case their car runs out of juice.
Now, battery maker Phinergy and metal manufacturer Alcoa are working together to give these electric cars an extra boost. This week, the two companies revealed their modified Citroen C1 car, which contains a regular lithium-ion battery and a novel “aluminum-air” battery.
Together, the batteries extend the car’s range up to 1,000 miles after a single charge. That’s compared to a range of 80 to 300 miles for regular electric cars, which run on lithium-ion batteries alone.
“When you’re buying a car, you want to buy freedom,” Aviv Tzidon, CEO of Phinergy, told CBCNews. “When you have a car which is limited in range, and you need to have infrastructure to [fast-charge it], you are losing this freedom.”
According to CBCNews, the car still mostly relies on the lithium-ion battery to propel it forward, but once that battery runs out, the much lighter, more energy dense aluminum-air battery kicks in. When its charged, the aluminum-air battery draws in oxygen from the outside air, combining it with water added into the car by the user. This produces a chemical reaction that produces aluminum hydroxide, and subsequently, an electric current.
The only problem? The aluminum-air battery isn’t rechargeable. But Alcoa noted that as long as users refill the battery with tap water every month or two, the battery has a shelf life of 20 to 30 years.