An electric car that uses an innovative salt-water-powered battery system has been given approval to be
used on public roads in Europe.
The Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine (what a name) is powered
by a flow battery that uses ionic salt water as its storage medium.
It was first showcased as a prototype at the Geneva Motor Show, but
it’s just been granted permission to take to the roads in Germany
and, by extension, the rest of Europe. The car — which has been
fourteen years in the making — was inspected by the German
authority on road safety, TÜV Süd, and finally awarded a
Technical director Nunzio La Vecchia described the move as “a
historic moment and a milestone for our company and maybe even for
the electric mobility of the future”. Five years ago while working
for Koenigsegg, La Vecchia had tried to launch another Quant car — this time a solar-powered one — but it failed to
materialise. Some critics have suspected that the Nanoflowcell
Quant e-Sportlimousine would suffer the same fate.
Flow batteries such as the one that Nanoflowcell has developed
involve having two chemicals — usually metallic salts — dissolved
in liquids inside the battery and separated by a membrane. Ion
exchange takes place between the membrane, although the liquids
themselves do not mix. When the battery is charged, electrical
energy causes a chemical reduction reaction in one of the liquids
and an oxidation reaction in the other. When the battery is in use,
the reverse reaction takes place. Nanoflowcell has made this
process very efficient so that the batteries can be small and the
prototype car has a range of up to 600 kilometres — at least
according to the company.
Nanoflowcell claims that it can deliver five times the
performance of a similarly-sized lithium-ion
battery. Speed-wise, the four-seater Quant car is projected to
achieve 350 kilometres per hour, and 0-100 in just 2.8 seconds –
which are optimistic figures putting its top speed above a 1992
Jaguar XJ220 and acceleration close to that of a 2007 Shelby
Supercars Ultimate Aero. We’ll look forward to a test drive by The
Stig. Flow cells can go through 10,000 charging cycles with no
noticeable memory loss.
Now that the vehicle is street legal in Europe it’s possible for
the company Nanoflowcell to move into the next phase of development
and planning, with the company even mooting an IPO. “We’ve got
major plans, and not just within the automotive industry,” said
Nanoflowcell chairman Jens-Peter Ellermann, suggesting domestic
energy, maritime, rail and aviation uses.
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21 July 2014