Tesla range extender

Tesla range extender

So, depending on the cost of the aluminum air battery, and the cost and ease of swapping the metal plates, and the inconvenience level of adding water every 200 miles, what might the feasibility of creating a frunk sized AL battery for rent to extend the range of a tesla car for another 200 - 500 miles when needed. These batteries could also be used to service drivers when they run out of charge. Does anyone know how big the 500 mile AL battery is?

I know mr musk wouldn't consider this type of battery as viable for the car as a main battery, as most would agree, but i wonder if this tech with its high energy density could supplant previously considered swapping schemes, where the frunk could hold a custom sized AL battery for those long jaunts where no fast chargers could be expected, on a rental basis?

Pros and cons anyone?

vgarbutt | July 18, 2014

oh now i found online tesla mentioning this and apperently tesla has a patent for an AL battery for just this.

Brian H | July 19, 2014

Considered and rejected long ago. Use volkerize to look up the threads on it.

DTsea | July 19, 2014

not going to happen... frunk has no high power connection anyway.

and these so called aluminum batteries are not real yet. lab experiments and press releases only.

ElectricSteve | July 22, 2014

And what about the massive weight- imbalance that a heavy battery in the frunk would cause...

Timo | July 22, 2014

Depends obviously how massive it would be. If it is 200lbs then it causes less imbalance than driver without passenger. Though 200lbs is too little for 500 miles even with optimal lab batteries, so that's just wishful thinking.

vgarbutt | July 22, 2014

Or 250 mile extension for 100 pounds. I dont know the form factors involved in a AL battery. But even 200 extra miles would be a boost.

vgarbutt | July 22, 2014

What if you filled the frunk with cement bags? Would 4 bags throw the car for a loop?

DTsea | July 22, 2014

There ain't no such real thing as an aluminum air battery. When you see it in an industrial supply catalog, and you see a car with one homologated, passed fire qualification, etc, THEN it is a real thing.

What there is right now, is lab experiments and press hoopla that might, someday, turn into a real product.

A tesla range extender is called a 'supercharger.'

Haeze | July 22, 2014

I always wondered about these threads... so you put this battery in your trunk or frunk, and now your car can go 500 miles on a charge... That is good if your trip is between 300 and 500 miles, but the second it goes over that, you will need to stop and supercharge anyway, which the AL battery is not capable of. If your trip is under 300 miles, then you are simply wasting energy lugging all of that weight around. Seems like a very narrow demographic to try to hit with a technology that would take a LOT of R&D and Manufacturing. I say they should just keep improving the Supercharger speed, and the capabilities of the battery packs to take a faster charge.

DTsea | July 22, 2014

Haeze +1

Tiebreaker | July 22, 2014

@Haeze +1.
I was just going to say the same: use the RnD and manufacturing money to stick another supercharger at the route.

Red Sage ca us | July 22, 2014

Haeze: +1 UP!

Brian H | July 23, 2014

Haeze +1. Same logic Elon used to nix supercaps. A bigger battery not only resolves the immediate issue, it has many other plusses.

just an allusion | July 27, 2014

As it is, given the observation that battery technology is advancing almost on par with the precepts of Moore's Law, I don't really see any need for the development of a so-called "range extender".

Just saying.

Bubba2000 | July 27, 2014

A 6 bay supercharger site installed without solar panel was quoted as costing $150k by Elon las year. I expect the prices have fallen since then. Tesla is planning to install 200 such sites in US+Canada costing about $30M plus any solar panel cost. This would leave huge gaps in coverage, and very little margin for error in other places.

Tesla could install 400-500 SCs sites without solar panels and cost may be $75M. For the cities Tesla could partner with hotels like Hilton, restaurants, parking lots, gas stations, walmart, etc for pay per use model. Tesla could add all these sites on the car map, sell advertisement about hotels, allow booking, even take a cut. May be an extra $10M to get started.

If range anxiety effectively disappears, Model S perceived vale and demand will increase as support higher ASP. Cheaper than building a single moderate sized oil refinery of $500M-1B or a network of H2 stations, plus crackers, cryogenic trucks, etc.

Remnant | August 5, 2014

@ DTsea (July 19, 2014)

<< ... frunk has no high power connection anyway. >>

Tesla can easily supply a recharging DC connector inside the frunk.

It's even taken a patent on an on an on-board Al-Air range extender.

baileycarlson | August 6, 2014

Forget the frunk, make the aluminum-air battery hot swappable as Tesla recently demonstrated. Maybe break the primary battery in two with some area reserved for a Al-air range extender that can be hot swapped by itself.

Haeze | August 6, 2014

If a battery will be swapped, why not the main battery ? No need for a second.

DTsea | August 6, 2014

Or, instead of returning to old paradigm of consumable fuel.... which is what this is, burning aluminum.... you could just bist the aupercharger.

DTsea | August 6, 2014

Darn phone spellchecker.

Just visit the supercharger.

vgarbutt | August 7, 2014

I guess range extenders are for range anxiety. If you can get charges everywhere, and have reliable fast mobile chargers you can call, then maybe you dont need range extenders. But as soon as you want to drive more than the max range, with no charger at the destination, well you would have range anxiety again.

Anyway, even ICE vehicles can give you range anxiety for some destinations.

DTsea | August 8, 2014

Range extenders are code for 'EVS aren't practical.

vgarbutt | August 8, 2014


LOL. Gas stations are code for "range extenders".

DTsea | August 8, 2014

True, but people dont think about that.

On the one hand, these aluminum batteries are still just lab experiments.... you cant buy one.

And on the other, having a fuel- even if it is a solid- seems to me something Tesla, philosophically, wont buy in to.

Remnant | August 9, 2014

@ vgarbutt (OP, July 18, 2014)

<< Does anyone know how big the 500 mile AL battery is? >>

The 1,100 mile version weighs 55 lbs. So, I would guess, the 500 mile version would weigh about 20-30 lbs.


<< ... [W]hat might [be] the feasibility of creating a frunk sized [Al-Air] battery for rent to extend the range of a [T]esla car for another 200 - 500 miles when needed[?] >>

Feasibility looks OK, IMO. Tesla could easily supply the frunk connectivity and even the Al-Air "battery" as an option.

But let's look at the issue with a bit broader perspective.

Energy production has always been problematic, because bulky, heavy, messy, complex, noisy, or hazardous. As use of electrical motors for the propulsion of vehicles allowed the separation of energy production from the vehicles, in the 19th century it seemed to be the technology of the future in transportation.

The discovery of liquid fossil fuels enabled the invention of ICEs, relatively compact, on-board power plants that could drive vehicles without resorting to electricity beyond starting the engine and igniting the fuel. This autonomy brought about the revolution of automobiles for personal transportation, about 100 years ago.

Naturally, the ICE convenience delayed the evolution of electric propulsion, but most of the problems associated with on-board energy production remained, while pollution of the environment and the wasteful use of the non-renewable source of fuel have become increasingly obvious.

Spearheaded by innovations in the use and storage of electrical energy, the older, electrical propulsion technology gradually became attractive again and led to the BEV revolution and its first magnitude star, Tesla Motors. The safety and efficiency of producing energy in large amounts, at a distance from the users and their electrically operated vehicles, distributed through shared grids and easy connectivity, has virtually eliminated the problems of on-board energy production.

Despite newer, mostly chemical, “green” and quiet methods of producing electrical energy “on the go”, it does not seem likely that on-board energy production could return as a permanent feature of the BEVs, but only, perhaps, as optional gadgetry of intermittent, range-extending use, such as the Alcoa-Phinergy Al-Air "battery".

However, at this point, the relief from “range anxiety” is more likely to come from rapid recharging and larger capacity batteries.

vgarbutt | August 9, 2014

Well at 55 pounds, an 1100 mile AI battery rented for the frunk, for the express purpose of reaching destinations NOT in any 300 mile range car, or 500 mile car etc, would be an important capability to add to a EV.

In fact, a 1400 mile range EV, could go places NO ICE vehicle could go without carrying a flammable toxic fuel, in cans in the trunk, to extend the range.

I dont suggest that it be used as a normal situation, but only as a huge range extender for those trips that can ONLY be accomplished with that long of a range extender.

It would be a long range enabler, more than a common range extender. However, depending on the cost of a recharge/install cost of a 1000 mile extender, it may allow almost cross country non stop travel, when the need arises, like long desert drives, or organ deliveries.

Grinnin'.VA | August 9, 2014

@vgarbutt | AUGUST 9, 2014

"Well at 55 pounds, an 1100 mile AI battery rented for the frunk,"

I thought this 'battery' drank copious amounts of water. If so, you'd need to stop occasionally and give it a drink.

Also, this 'battery' isn't rechargeable. Once you've used it, you need to send it back to somewhere for recycling/remanufacturing. And of course, when all the juice is drained out of it, you might need a replacement whereever you are.

Did I get these details right?

Ron :)

DTsea | August 9, 2014

Nobody knows what this hypothetical battery will generate as waste heat, crashworthiness, etc etc.

At this point it's just a popular science article.

You'll have widespread superchargers before this is real...

Red Sage ca us | August 9, 2014

By the time this option were actually feasible enough to be in any way convenient, battery electric vehicles will have a range of 800, 1200, or 1600 miles anyway, and no 'range extension' would be necessary for them.

vgarbutt | August 9, 2014

Maybe it will miss the boat. However, it was recently at least demonstrated in a car for 100 or so miles. In Israel?

So its more than a lab experiment, rather its more like an early prototype.

Well I'm done on this one. I dont have the 20 million to make it happen.

vgarbutt | August 9, 2014

Oh ya i wanted to mention that there was one thing easier to get than electricity, and that is water!

Red Sage ca us | August 9, 2014

Unfortunately, water is not so accessible in Detroit these days...

If I had twenty million bucks, I'd invest a big chunk in Tesla Motors. Once the stock reached 1500, I'd see if Elon was interested in a Modern Day fully electric Honda CRX and/or Mazda RX7 equivalent. Worst case, I'd fund it's development, using Tesla engineering talent, and release them under my own brand name. Basically, I'd be the low-end 'Maserati' to Tesla's 'Ferrari'...

Brian H | August 10, 2014

Long before 1000mi range, diminishing returns will stop the expansion. The market for that much gets too small to "pay the freight". IMO.

Haeze | August 11, 2014

"there was one thing easier to get than electricity, and that is water!"

I believe you may be surprised. California has been in a seemingly unending drought for the better part of 5 years now, and that is currently the biggest US EV market per-capita.

Brian H | August 11, 2014

Geology shows CA has had droughts up to 300 yrs long. Drink up while you can.

Red Sage ca us | August 11, 2014

Haeze: Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and various other nations in the Middle East are enjoying the use of water desalinization plant technology that was developed in California...

Brian H: On the other hand... What they call a 'drought' in Mississippi would be referred to as "STORMAGEDDON 2014!!!" in Los Angeles...

Iowa92x | August 11, 2014

The Supercharger is the range extender.

vgarbutt | August 11, 2014

ya i live in Toronto, Canada and we are getting tons of rain this year. Plus myself and all of my neighbours have running water! Lol

grega | August 11, 2014

@red sage I like your point about diminishing returns.

An ICE car can get double the range by having a double size tank. It takes extra space but the cost is negligible.

An EV can get double the range by having a bigger battery too, which takes extra space and costs a lot more.

The implications are important. While batteries are expensive it will be beneficial to "right size" our batteries - and yet people want to be ready for anything, even if they'll never use a function. Obviously a "range extender" will be one way - perhaps at your first supercharger stop on a long trip you'll add an al-air battery or something. Or swap a 60kwh battery for a 180kwh option for a couple of weeks - but the luxury of just paying an extra $10k for use once every 5 years seems unnecessary (unless it gets ultra cheap!)

grega | August 11, 2014

Not sure if you meant this, but I think the "free supercharging for life" is exactly that, a fix for long distance driving anxiety. If cars have enough range to drive daily, and on extended trips get to superchargers with confidence in your charge and their availability, they are the range extender.

A supercharger in the middle of your city for daily top-ups meets a very different need - and will attract increasingly large volumes of users.

Grinnin'.VA | August 12, 2014

@grega | AUGUST 11, 2014

"free supercharging for life" is exactly that, a fix for long distance driving anxiety. If cars have enough range to drive daily, and on extended trips get to superchargers with confidence in your charge and their availability, they are the range extender.

True, if and when SCs are plentiful so drivers can find one almost anywhere they want to go. We're not even close to that now.

Ron :)

f800shooter | August 12, 2014

Perhaps the Range Extender could be "cloud" based whereby you wouldn't need to carry it with you.
The analogy would be like doing a restore from backup from icloud, if you're on a MAC.