The Israeli start-up company Phinergy is relying on technology developed by Bar-Ilan University’s Prof. Arie Zaban to create an affordable, longer-lasting Aluminum-Air Battery for electric cars. Prof. Zaban, Director of BIU’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, and his team are partnering with Phinergy to change the base on which the battery itself operates through the contact of aluminum with oxygen and water.
With the help of nanotechnology, Prof. Zaban has overcome the challenge of how to use the energy within aluminum efficiently and over an extended time. Even though aluminum is a relatively expensive metal, Zaban chose it because it is very common in the earth’s crust, comprising 8 percent of it.
“Today there is even overproduction of aluminum in the world. The prices aren’t high. A kilogram of aluminum costing $1.80 produces eight kilowatt/hours of electricity. One kilometer driven by a car would cost just 20 agorot, much less than the cost of gasoline,” says Zaban.
He calls this an “extraordinary” transfer of knowledge between the academic world and the private market. “Chemical research can turn into something that everyone will be using in the future.”
Creating alternative energy solutions such as this is what drives Prof. Zaban, a former combat pilot in the elite Israeli Air Force who says his inspiration comes from reading the Bible and Jewish sources along with other fields of research.
When asked what makes his nano-energy team stand out, he replies, “We’re in a great position to consolidate our leadership role in nanotechnology and energy research, and are investing much effort and money in getting the best researchers, and equipping them with the best possible infrastructure…The key to success is having brains, facilities and management. We have them all.”