Tesla and Phinergy

Tesla and Phinergy

I wonder if Tesla has thought about or is working with Phinergy, the Israel based company that is inventing the newest best batteries for electric vehicles (IMO).

I just saw that they have worked on a 50 cell pack that has moved a less energy efficient electric car (compared to Tesla's standards) 400 miles, and can actually go over 1000. Inst new more efficient batter technology needed to extend range and reduce the cost of building an electric car?

What do you guys think about Phinergy? What does Elon Musk and Tesla engineers think?

If you haven't heard of it, here is one of their videos.

nwdiver93 | 2 giugno 2013

They kind of glossed over the fact in the video but I don't think we have electrically rechargeable metal-air batteries yet. You have to "mechanically" exchange the oxidized metal. I recall that there was a post on TMC showing that Tesla had actually submitted a patent that incorporated a metal-air battery as a sort of "fuel tank". It's too costly to be the primary source of power but could be useful on road trips similar to battery swapping.

olanmills | 2 giugno 2013

It's interesting, and the high energy density is important, but so is the cost. We could have a 1,000 mile Li-ion battery for the Model S too; it would just cost a lot.

Also, refueling the metal-air battery is inconvenient. I assume you're supposed to use pure water, which, right now, you could only buy it at the grocery store in plastic jugs.

I suppose it could have a water purifier in it, but then that would make it less efficient and higher maintenance.

rlarno | 3 giugno 2013

Given the Metal-Air patents Tesla has, the 'obvious' frunk spot where such a battery could go, and the fact that such a battery is 'manageable' in size and weight, it could be a future upgrade and refer to the 'recharge is less than it takes to refuel' statement of EM. So recharging would not happen at home, but rather you'd get/recharge/drop off a Metal-Air pack at a service center.

The only problem would be it you had loaded up the frunk with luggage and such. So based on that problem, I still do not believe a Metal-Air battery in the frunk will arrive anytime soon. Let's hope I'm all wrong on that.

Brian H | 3 giugno 2013

Some who have disassembled the back of the frunk say there is no wiring or provisions for wiring a supplementary battery there. So not a quick fix or implementation. Oh, well.

SamO | 3 giugno 2013

All that would be needed is a connector to the onboard charger from the frunk battery. The fact that there is no connections NOW should not be considered evidence of it's impossibility.

Brian H | 4 giugno 2013

Rewiring existing cars is highly unlikely. I think this is a dead end speculation.

rlarno | 4 giugno 2013

It's all pure speculation, so why no speculate there is a way to connect it all together.

If (big if) the metal-air battery were ever to be available as an upgrade to the current Model S, then is would certainly require a stop at the service station to get that system installed. It will not be that you pick it up and DYI it in your car. So whatever would be needed will be done at the service center.

Btw: there were no connectors for the parking sensors, yet they are now available for new EU models.

SamO | 4 giugno 2013


Great point re: parking sensors. Connecting a cable between a single use battery and the charging system IS NOT highly unlikely.

In fact Tesla considered it so likely that they filed a patent to protect THAT EXACT INVENTION.

Brian H | 4 giugno 2013

Possibly for GenIII or MS 2.0. Or the hi-power pickup (or other truck) Elon mentioned.

wcalvin | 4 giugno 2013

The frunk is only inches away from the DC electronics, which is behind the right front wheel under the quarter panel. (Watch that first-responders video showing the Fremont FD taking apart a S.). Great place to plug in a supplementary battery.

Brian H | 5 giugno 2013

True, forgot about that video. Could be, could be ...

frmercado | 5 giugno 2013

Pretty interesting. Looks like the perfect technology for an electric boat! Maybe Tesla should do a Ski Boat using this technology in the future. That would be awesome, one of the biggest turn offs of riding on a small boat like a ski boat is the engine noise. This would be a perfect solution.

carlgo | 7 giugno 2013

This rather small and messy frunk mounted battery seems more like a range extender than a quick-charge solution. There has to be at least some range for the quick-charge solution to be viable and worthy of the definition.

uselesslogin | 15 giugno 2013

I'm surprised no one mentioned this before but I just found this article:

In it the CEO is quoted as saying they have a contract to deliver production volumes in 2017 with an unnamed global automaker. What if that automaker is Tesla? In my mind this further cements Thursday's announcement to be a main battery pack swap since it sounds like al-air technology is just not there yet. However, it also convinces me that al-air batteries will very likely be part of the Gen III models and maybe the Gen II refresh.

Brian H | 15 giugno 2013

TM has its own patents in the area, of course.

liviu | 1 luglio 2013

I think that the Model S could fit a Al-Air battery in the trunk. There is a space beneath the floor of the trunk. Easy access for swap like the main battery and can be filled with water from the right rear tail light (should install a hose connection like the available one for electrons in the left tail light).
When the Al-Air not installed, the space is used for storage.
When go in long trip, go to Tesla Station, install in 90 seconds a extented Al-Air battery and pay for it (maybe 2 options - 500 or 1000 miles or more). You will fill with water when it is low, no problem!
Easy like you say: "Bye-Bye gas!"

anikothelawyer | 14 aprile 2014

Aluminum anode batteries are definitely the future-- like the Phinergy battery--only even more tweaked--- but you have to think of them more like the FUEL is aluminum ----- just like the aluminum/drano thing... Phinergy definitely got a spin on a better battery-- but ulitimately I think that super batteries are still evolving and there may yet be some strange hybrid of battery/hho battery/motor yet to come..soon!

nikolateslas88 | 15 aprile 2014

what about lonnie johnson. he was the originator of this battery here in the states. he has done work for nasa as well. look him up..

Brian H | 16 aprile 2014

Since the aluminum is oxidized and must be replaced, they are limited in usefulness.

Remnant | 16 aprile 2014

@ Brian H | June 4, 2013

<< Rewiring existing cars is highly unlikely. I think this is a dead end speculation. >>

TM has pledged to keep all MS vehicles up to the latest innovations, with all retrofitting as needed, including FWD.

So, rewiring is just ... piece of cake.

Brian H | 18 aprile 2014

No, and no. TM has not pledged that, and tearing apart the car to rewire it is not happening. >;p

Gene Frenkle | 18 aprile 2014

This battery looks very interesting, the one thing they glossed over is how much water it needs. It is clearly a lot because they say you have to fill up every 200 miles, so there is clearly a volume/weight issue. I don't think it is a big deal considering many stores have water dispensers that sell drinking water for 35 cents a gallon and somebody could easily figure out a way to store the used water. This would make a great range extender in passenger cars or could have a more useful role in commercial vehicles with a small lithium battery.

Brian H | 18 aprile 2014

I think the 'used water' is chemically transformed, and is part of the used battery, and no longer a liquid.

Gene Frenkle | 19 aprile 2014

It can be recycled when one fills up with more clean water. The fact it can be recycled will bring the cost of aluminum for the battery down. The battery is essentially a way to store cheap hydro from Quebec and Iceland for use in autos and other things.

Red Sage ca us | 19 aprile 2014

[ASIDE:] The strange thing about Lonnie G. Johnson's work, is that I'm certain he's brilliant, but it seems as if he is hiding something too. It's almost as if he doesn't want to actually say something in particular, either because he doesn't want to give the wrong impression, or in order to protect a patent pending concept.

Some of the things he says seem to point in the same direction as a hydrogen fuel cell, but he keeps calling it battery technology instead. Some of the things he says might even be a literal water powered motor, but then he says other things that would contradict that assumption.

I would hope he'd be able to work with Elon Musk, but he seems more interested in working with other auto manufacturers, to improve their hybrid technologies significantly. If he is actually speaking of batteries, he'd do best to work with Tesla Motors. If it is closer to Fuel Cells, then someone else instead.[/ASIDE]

Brian H | 20 aprile 2014

BS. It doesn't run on water, it runs on oxidation of metal. When the metal is all oxidized, it must be dumped or exchanged.

Gene Frenkle | 2 giugno 2014
Car t man | 4 giugno 2014

As far as rebuilding batteries physically are concerned, Deutsche post had a fleet with non rechargeable Zinc air batteries (fuel cells), which were mechanically taken out and rebuilt in shops about every 300 miles.
This was in 1994.

In 1997 the first modern and functional AC inverter creator (did the first AC drive trains-including predecessor to the one in the Tesla), made first rechargeable zinc air batteries. They were series production ready and used in buses in Singapore. They also needed liquid replenishment every now and then.

It is a cheaper alternative and shuns any rare earths and materials, so in principle, it is the one to pursues. I think the ones from 1997 had some
150Wh/kg or something like that.

So this is a similar approach. But these all appear to be fuel cells. They have advantages over batteries, if they can use ambient air for reactions, rather than needing to store all elements inside, which is why lithium batteries (and others) have such meager capacity/kg, measured against oil, etc.

Brian H | 8 giugno 2014

TM's LiIon cells don't use any rare earths.

Timo | 9 giugno 2014

TM cells contain couple of rather expensive elements though, like cobalt. There are li-ion chemistries that don't use any even slightly rare elements, just silicon, iron, carbon, stuff like that (lithium is common element).

curiousguy | 11 giugno 2014

Al-air is a primary battery (not rechargeable).

Zn-air suffers from horrible dendrite growth at the Zn metal anode (similar to Li metal - which is why there are no commercial metal Li anodes).

These technologies are not close to the level of maturity of Li-ion.

maury.markowitz | 24 giugno 2014

The fact that it's not rechargeable (in the common definition) is simply *not an issue*. Don't trust your gut, it's wrong, trust math:

Roll down to "and now the numbers"

Red Sage ca us | 24 giugno 2014

"...causing the aluminum to rust..."

I presume they mean 'oxidize'? Aluminum doesn't rust.

"In the grand scheme of things, this is all win."

Ah. So... Going from 13% efficiency with fossil fuels, to 15% efficiency with an aluminum oxide non-rechargeable air battery is 'all win', but using a 98% efficient lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack that will last a decade-and-a-half... isn't?

The whole thing stinks of the same remove and replace concept that has long dominated the automotive world. A projected energy density of ~350 kWh within 100 kg is impressive, sure. But it isn't proven or guaranteed. And who's to say that lithium-ion won't achieve a similar ratio in the future?

Then there are all the subjects the article doesn't cover at all:

  • Energy Retention -- Maintain state of charge over time without use
  • Exposure to Elements -- Performance during inclimate weather conditions in varied regions is paramount
  • Air Density -- Oxygen is less prevalent in mountainous areas as compared to at sea level
  • Changes in Ambient Temperature -- Resistance to high and low temperature and their effects on the reaction
  • Cost of Manufacture -- Companies must weigh the bottom line
  • Cost of Replacement -- Consumers must be willing to accept this expense

Basically? This is a bunch of horse hockey.

jkn | 25 giugno 2014

Red Sage,

I say that lithium-ion won't achieve 350 kWh within 100 kg, ever. Perhaps you don't believe, but I say it any way.

Phinergy story by speculates by replacing most of MS Li-ion battery by metal-air. Metal-air has lower power density, so max acceleration drops with Li-ion battery size.

So Li-ion battery must remain. Small metal-air modules could be bought and installed when needed. 10 kg module 35 kWh, 35/85*400 = 165 km = 100 miles. Buy as many as you need.

Timo | 25 giugno 2014

3500Wh/kg...not realistic for lithium ion. Not even as theoretical. 3500Wh/L and higher might be possible though with solid state lithium-sulfur batteries.

Jolinar | 28 giugno 2014

where did he get the 15% efficiency? any references?

vgarbutt | 30 giugno 2014

Tesla has passed on this battery as it consumes itself in operation. Kind of short battery life.

Remnant | 9 luglio 2014

The following article appears to answer some of the concerns expressed in this thread (copy and paste both parts of the address, without a space).


Here are some excerpts:

Renault-Nissan To Use Phinergy’s Aluminum-Air Battery
by Jeff Cobb - June 6, 2014

Phinergy CEO and Founder, Aviv Tzidon confirmed talks with Renault-Nissan are tentatively set for a proposed series production electric car due in 2017 using its range-extending aluminum-air battery. It’s being proposed as a range extender – not a primary propulsion battery – to automakers, including Renault-Nissan.

Phinergy’s aluminum-air battery combines de-ionized (drinkable) water into an alkaline electrolyte solution and breathes in air to create a chemical reaction that dissolves aluminum plates to produce electricity.

Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust and Phinergy’s durable technology reliably extracts 8.1 kilowatt-hours of energy – half of which is electricity, and half byproduct heat – per kilogram.

… [C]onsumers would only be buying the energy stored in aluminum, not so much the aluminum itself which merely dissolves to a different form and is taken away as a valuable byproduct.

Phinergy’s prototype car is primarily powered by a rather ordinary lithium-ion battery and motor and its aluminum-air pack can recharge it on the go. Unlike other batteries, aluminum can be stored for decades without degradation or needing maintenance charging. A typical usage scenario would see the cartridges expended maybe once a year, more or less.

Costs – while still fuzzy at this stage – are projected to be cheaper than present solutions. “Energy from aluminum is cheaper than gasoline and close to grid electricity price,” the system flushes through the electrolyte solution as required at a rate that exposes aluminum just enough to repeat the oxidation, and not so aggressively as to prematurely erode the aluminum.

Maintenance would involve car owners needing to periodically refill the battery with tap water that’s been run through a simple de-ionizing process. This would be as [needed] – perhaps every month or two depending on usage – and the electrolyte would enable the chemical reaction.

The aluminum plates that erode away would be swapped with new ones during a “quick operation” at a local service station.

baileycarlson | 9 luglio 2014

Tesla has a way to quickly replace a battery pack in an automated fashion, what if the battery pack just comes with an included Al-Air stack as range extender? Or what if this range extender is separately replaceable in an automated fashion? You're telling me this Al-air that can get 1000 miles as single use wouldn't be popular among road-trippers? This solves the range anxiety hem-haw.

Yes Al-Air can achieve these energy densities, it's simple chemistry. I just don't know for sure how many you need in a stack to meet the Model S power needs without any compromise compared to the Li-Ion batteries.

baileycarlson | 9 luglio 2014

Water is the electrolyte and when combined with air and a cheap catalyst like carbon can form hydroxyl ions which react with the aluminum to form a aluminum-hyrdoxide gel. Force electrons to go through a circuit for this reaction and you can use the power.

I believe you only need something like equal weight water and aluminum for the LIFE of the battery and the water very slowly becomes the aluminum-hydroxide gel. Once power output drops beyond a certain rated value you replace the battery in entirety. The user probably wouldn't have to worry about the water or anything else, just replace it once its drained hopefully at a supercharger automated station.

I really hope Tesla goes this direction, I think it makes sense as a range extender that isn't an ICE.

Timo | 10 luglio 2014

Al-air is not rechargeable. You need to swap it and then refurbish the old one in factory where you refine the oxidized Al back to pure metal.

swapnilkothawale01 | 12 luglio 2014

I think these batteries can be helpful to build electric aeroplane or other future flying machines.