Seawater-powered electric car begins testing in Germany



QUANT E-SPORTLIMOUSINE BEGINS OFFICIAL TESTING ON GERMAN ROADS

The innovative Quant e-Sportlimousine has moved a small step closer to production reality with the news that Nanoflowcell - the Liechtenstein-based company behind the car - has been granted official approval to test the car on German and European roads. Officials at the company see this as the final step before the salt water-powered electric car will be ready for series production.We take a closer look at the technology behind the Quant e-Sportlimousine and ask if this really is the next big thing.
The car that's powered by salt water is taking another step closer to becoming a reality



MADE ITS DEBUT AT THE 2014 GENEVA MOTOR SHOW

The Quant e-Sportlimousine is packed with the kind of technology you can’t help feeling is too good to be true. Indeed, following a false dawn in 2009, many from within the automotive industry expected the current car’s debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show to be little more than another high profile white elephant. But this latest development has seen people take a renewed interest in this vision of the future.

LONGER THAN A RANGE ROVER LWB AND PERFORMANCE TO WORRY A MCLAREN P1

Before diving in to the clever tech, a word about the size of this car. At 5,257mm, the Quant e-Sportlimousine is longer than the 5,199mm long-wheelbase Range Rover, yet this four-seat supercar has the performance to worry a McLaren P1. Nanoflowcell claims its four electric motors provide a total output of 925hp, with an operating power of 653hp.

FOUR ELECTRIC MOTORS GENERATING 8,552LB FT OF TORQUE

The German Autobahns are the ideal place to test such a potent machine. Each electric motor delivers a massive 2,138lb ft of torque, meaning a total of 8,552lb ft. It’s enough to propel the e-Sportlimousine to 62mph in just 2.8 seconds, going on to reach a top speed of 236mph. These are the claims. We’ll have to wait for the results of the test before making these official.

BASED ON TECH FROM THE NASA SPACE PROGRAMME

OK, here comes the science bit. The Quant e-Sportlimousine is quite unlike anything else we’ve seen before. At the heart of the car is a Nanoflowcell - a powerful and compact flow cell battery. The batteries stem from the NASA space programme of the 1970s. developed as part of a drive to advance energy storage technology for space flight. Flow cells are chemical batteries, combining aspects of an electrochemical accumulator cell with those of a fuel cell.

THE E-SPORTLIMOUSINE USES SALT WATER

The electrolytic fluids in flow cells - usually metallic salts found in water - are pumped from tanks through the cell. This forms a kind of battery cell with a cross-flow of electrolyte liquid. The larger the storage tanks, the greater the energy capacity. The company claims the energy transfer rate is the same as that found in a standard lead-acid battery.

TWO DIFFERENT ELECTROLYTIC SOLUTIONS ARE PUMPED THROUGH THE CELL

To charge or discharge the Nanoflowcell, two different electrolytic solutions are pumped through the appropriate battery cell in which an electrode (anode or cathode) is located. A membrane separates the two electrolyte chambers and their differing chemistries. No mixing occurs between the high-charge ion carrier and the low-charge one as this would be useless for producing electrical power.

PROJECTED RANGE OF BETWEEN 248 AND 372 MILES

Nanoflowcell claims its technology can store 20 times more energy than the conventional lead-acid battery, providing 20 times more range from a battery of an equivalent weight. It also has five times more capacity, giving a projected range of between 248 and 372 miles.

WHAT OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE REQUIRED TO SUPPORT THE TECHNOLOGY?

This all seems rather reminiscent of the hydrogen fuel cell technology, which - as things stand - currently stands the greatest chance of rivalling electric cars for future mobility. The key difference is that in the Nanoflowcell car, the liquid used for storing energy is salt water. But like the hydrogen fuel cell, question marks remain over the commercial viability of the technology. Just how easy will it be to create the necessary infrastructure, especially without the demand?

POTENTIAL FOR USE IN HOUSES, SHIPS, AIRCRAFT AND TRAINS

The company remains adamant that the technology found on the Quant e-Sportlimousine will find its way, not just to cars, but also houses, ships, aircraft and trains. That remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt that the e-Sportlimousine - complete with its gull-wing doors and futuristic interior - was one of the most eye-catching cars at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. But the Quant proves that beauty can be so much more than skin deep.

THERE’S CURRENTLY NO WORD ON PRICE

There’s still some way to go, not least because there’s currently no word on price. There’s also the aforementioned lack of infrastructure to support the technology, along with the fact that the e-Sportlimousine uses a pair of 200-litre tanks of fuel made from the salt water solution. These help to contribute to a lardy kerb weight of 2,300kg.

PASSENGER RIDES PROMISED LATE 2014

We also suspect the car in its present form will be the preserve of the wealthy, but the partnership with German electronics giants, Bosch, should lead to improved economies of scale. One to watch over the coming months, with the firm promising passenger rides in the latter half of 2014.
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