Metal/air fuel cells are reviewed in terms of their potential application in electric vehicles. Attention is focused on those metals (light alkali and alkaline earth metals, and aluminum) which, in combination with oxygen, have theoretical energy densities (2--13 kWh/kg-metal) exceeding that of gasoline (utilized in automobiles at 2--3 kWh/kg). Lithium and aluminum have yielded 8- and 4 kWh/kg, respectively, in laboratory experimental cells. The slurry Zn/air system achieves 0.85 kWh/kg-Zn in prototype vehicle cells and is reviewed for comparison. Calcium can probably yield 1.8 kWh/kg-Ca, but its potential as a fuel has not yet been fully explored. The remaining metals appear to be unsuitable for use in aqueous electrolyte fuel cells. The discharge characteristics of lithium, aluminum, and (possibly) calcium/air cells indicate the potential for electric vehicles of the highway performance and minimum range (300 miles) of subcompact automobiles, rapid refueling for unlimited range extension, and the storage in the fuel cell of sufficient metal for ranges in excess of 1000 miles. Barriers to the concept are the economic necessity of recycling cell reaction products (except in the case of calcium), the expansion or creation of vast metal production industries, and the change-over of existing service station infrastructures to allow electric vehicle servicing. The energy efficiency of a transportation system using aluminum was estimated using data on the current aluminum production industry. The total estimated cost of ownership and operation of an aluminum/air cell was 3.0--3.6 cents/km. The relative rarity of lithium would complicate its use. 6 tables. (ERA citation 03:000914)

  • Corporate Authors:

    University of California, Livermore

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
    Livermore, CA  United States  94550

    Energy Research and Development Administration

    20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • COOPER, J F
  • Publication Date: 1977-8-15

Media Info

  • Pagination: 27 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00175230
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Technical Information Service
  • Contract Numbers: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 26 1978 12:00AM