Trevor Jackson, 58 from Tavistock, Devon, England, invented a game-changing aluminum-air fuel cell battery that can power semi-trucks, buses, propeller planes, and yes, electric cars!
The battery will be easier (and cheaper) to make compared to the current lithium-ion ones powering electric vehicles. Jackson, who was formerly an engineer for Rolls-Royce and retired Royal Navy lieutenant, recently signed a deal with manufacturers in the UK to get his battery mass produced.
Jackson and his company Metalectrique Ltd., created the battery over 10 years ago but had faced scrutiny and was lobbied against by auto industry leaders who realize that their current tech, lithium-ion batteries, could become obsolete if this aluminum-air fuel cell battery got off the ground.
In the 1960s, scientists figured out that when dipping aluminum in an electrolyte, a chemical reaction happens between air and metal that creates electricity. Because the electrolyte was poisonous and dangerous the method was abandoned. Jackson created a new formula of electrolyte that wasn't poisonous in his workshop and even drank the formula to prove to investors that his product wasn't poisonous. On top of that, the aluminum that's used in Jackson's fuel cell could be from recycled beverage cans! It's a win/win.
Jackson hopes to have a ($4000) kit that can convert gasoline/diesel cars into hybrids. If everything is true, Jackson's aluminum-air batteries would replace most lithium-ion batteries, which can explode (Samsung Galaxy Note 7, anyone?) when charged incorrectly. Thankfully, aluminum is a pretty common metal in the world and doesn't require any crazy loops to obtain, and are easily recyclable. This would also mean that the cost of electric cars will go down substantially, due to the lower battery cost.
So how does Jackson's aluminum-air batteries compare to Tesla's lithium-ion batteries? Well, Tesla claims that their Model S could run about 370 miles on a single charge, which means that Jackson's aluminum-air batteries if the weight is similar, would make the same car run at least 1,500 miles. That's about the distance from San Diego to Kansas City, Missouri!
How would you charge aluminum-air fuel cell batteries?
Instead of recharging your lithium-ion batteries overnight, you would simply take your used aluminum-air batteries to a store to exchange, similar to how we switch out propane tanks at a nearby store when they're low. That would mean no longer relying on charging stations on a road trip. Simply swap your battery and you're ready to drive again.