Making its debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show is the new Quant e-Sportlimousine by Lichenstein based company NanoFlowcell AG. Recently branded street legal by Germany’s TÜV Süd regulatory agency, the Quant’s stunning design and incredible power easily hides its most innovative feature, a flow cell battery powertrain that runs on saltwater instead of gasoline.
With its sleek, sculptured body and oversized gullwing doors the Quant screams power, which it delivers in spades; it can go from 0-62 mph in 2.8 seconds with a top speed of 236 mph. The Quant has 4 electric motors, one for each wheel, providing an impressive 912-hp that gives the Quant supercar status. Despite all the engineering and exterior marvels, the Quant’s wood and leather interior is surprisingly spacious, which comes with 4 seats and plenty of attention to detail whose swaths of copper finish makes it more indicative of a futuristic cockpit than an automobile.
The Quant’s real claim to fame is its powertrain, which utilizes an electrolyte flow cell system first invented by NASA for the space program in the 1970s. The system consists of two 200 liter (≈ 53 gallons) tanks filled with a saltwater electrolyte solution. This solution is pumped into two adjoining cells that’s divided by a membrane separating the positively and negatively charged fluids. This membrane facilitates the transition of electrons from the positively charged solution to the negative one. When this happens the electricity generated feeds two supercapacitors that in turn distribute the power to the aforementioned 4 electric motors. With a range of 373 miles on one tank, the Quant promises efficiency 5 times that of a comparable by weight lithium ion battery system.
As far as refueling is concerned, the process will be similar to what we are used to with a regular gasoline car. When the energy in the electrolyte tanks are depleted the liquid only needs to be refilled; an added bonus is that the spent fluid can be recharged for repeat use. In addition, and unlike lithium ion batteries, the electrolyte solution experiences no decay in efficiency (also known as memory effect).
NanoFlowcell states that their flow cell system is non-toxic, replacing earlier incarnations of flow cell batteries whose electrolyte solution contained a slew of harmful elements such as vanadium, bromine, and even uranium. They also claim that no precious or rare earth metals are used in the electrolyte solution. Given the proprietary nature of this solution, NanoFlowcell will not disclose what magic elixir makes up their electrolyte solution other than it is mostly salt water. This solution is possibly the most interesting aspect of this story; any future tidbits that NanoFlowcell releases will certainly be pored over by researchers all over the world.
The engineers behind NanoFlowcell’s Quant are not constraining themselves to just the automotive market. They have plans to expand their nano flow cell technology to domestic energy production as well as maritime, rail and aviation propulsion systems. If the Quant e-Sportlimosine performs as advertised, then not only is this technology another serious contender in the search for alternative fuel sources, but NanoFlowcell’s future may surpass even their greatest expectations.