Aluminum-Power's Breakthrough in Battery Technology

July 10, 2000 by Jeff Shepard

Aluminum-Power Inc. (Toronto, Canada), a Canadian-based high-technology company that has developed technology in the design, chemistry and manufacture of aluminum and oxygen fuel cells, has developed a metal-air fuel cell, which delivers significantly more energy in an environmentally sound battery.Aluminum-Power Inc., a member of the Eontech Group Inc., developed the cell over the past five years. The aluminum-air cell was recently evaluated by University of Toronto scientists in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, and Metallurgy and Material Science. Results of this evaluation were released yesterday.According to the University of Toronto study, battery systems such as nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion "represent a tremendous advance in battery technology, but their power pales in comparison with the energy available from an aluminum-air cell."According to Aluminum-Power, the high-energy-to-weight ratio makes the aluminum-air fuel cell an ideal power source. The technology can be adapted to a wide variety of applications, including electric vehicles, emergency power sources and portable electronic devices.The aluminum-air cell is approximately 75 times more energy-dense than con-ventional lithium-ion cells and delivers significantly greater power in portable electronic applications. Aluminum-Power's current focus is on this end of the market. Additionally, because of the simplicity of the fuel cell's design, its dimensions can be customized to fit small and large technology."Magnesium, zinc and iron only release two electrons per atom reacted and hence require more material to produce the same amount of energy," states the University of Toronto report. "Combining these factors, aluminum appears to be the best choice for metal-air electrodes."The report, by Professors D.W. Kirk and S.J. Thorpe, also found that "overall, the battery chemistry is very benign for the environment and without the hazardous components that current battery systems have."The company is currently focusing on commercializing its technology for the portable electronics industry.