China's Yunnan Aluminium approves battery JV with Israel's Phinergy

BEIJING (Reuters) - Yunnan Aluminium 000807.SZ said on Tuesday its board had unanimously approved a joint venture with Israel's Phinergy and another Chinese firm that will make aluminum batteries, its latest bid to cash in on China's electric vehicle (EV) boom.

Aluminum batteries produce electricity from a reaction between oxygen and aluminum. They have been touted as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries as a source of power for electric cars.

The venture, which has the working name of Yunnan Phinergy Chuang Neng Metal Air Battery Co Ltd, will have a registered capital of 813.82 million yuan ($128.97 million) and be based in Kunming, in China’s southwestern Yunnan province, according to a Yunnan Aluminium filing to the Shenzhen stock exchange.

Yunnan Aluminium and Phinergy will each own 32 percent in the venture, with the remaining 36 percent in the hands of a company called Shanghai Zuoyong New Energy Technology Co.

The JV “will introduce the world’s leading aluminum-air battery technology, relying on [Yunnan Aluminium’s] green and clean water and aluminum resources,” the statement said.

Phinergy is based in the city of Lod, south east of Tel Aviv, and headed by chief executive and co-founder Aviv Tzidon. It said on its website it had “developed a revolutionary way to generate electricity using aluminum as an energy source.” The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is not Yunnan Aluminium’s first move into the EV business. In August last year, the company, which styles itself as an environmentally friendly aluminum producer, said it would set up a joint venture to make electric vehicles, with initial annual output of 2,500 units.

Reporting by Tom Daly. Editing by Jane Merriman