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Flow cell challenges lithium ion

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

The Liechstenstein-based company claims that its ‘Quant e’ sports sedan has a driving range of up to 600 kilometres (about 370 miles) – despite its lower weight compared to a lithium ion battery. The most striking feature however is the fact that this energy storage does away with time-consuming charging procedures. Instead, the exhausted electrolyte can be exchanged against fresh one in a process similar to filling the gasoline tank of a conventional car. This suggests that the system represents a further development of the known redox flow battery technology.

The Nanoflowcell system utilises two tanks (200 litres each) containing a liquid electrolyte which in a cell reacts and generates electricity which then is stored in two large supercaps. The core element of the cell is a membrane system that separates the two liquids and enables a controlled exchange of charge carriers at relatively low temperatures (60 to 160°C). According to Nanoflowcell Chief Technologist Nunzio LaVecchia, the system offers high charge carrier density, low weight and a high efficiency. In contrast to flammable lithium-ion batteries the system does it with non-hazardous substances. The energy content of the cell is five times higher than of a comparable lithium-ion battery, the company claims. A spokesperson explained that the electrolyte consists of "ionised nano particles" but refused to be more specific.

More details were provided with regard to the electrical data: The battery (or whatever it is) generates a voltage of 600 V and a current of 50 A, resulting in a continuous power of 30 kW. The vehicle is driven by four asynchronous motors with a total power of 480 kW, providing a formula-1-like acceleration of 2.8 seconds to a speed of 100 kmph.

All-virtual cockpit: A 1,5 metres wide display

As innovative as its power plant is the interior. The HMI is implemented entirely (well, besides the steering wheel) as a capacitive touch-screen. An Android-based infotainment system offers far-reaching integration options for the driver’s smartphone.

Though characterised as a research vehicle, all elements are designed to enable a quick homologation which will be conducted along with Bosch Engineering. The goal is to achieve homologation for the EU and the US markets by end of 2015.

While the technical data of the Quant e may be striking, a major drawback of the system against the lithium ion battery technology is obvious: The lack of infrastructure. Despite its high driving range, the system needs a refill every 600 kilometres. This aspect, however, was subordinate to the developers. "At the present point in time our first goal is to raise the awareness for this system," the spokesperson said. He added that the technology can also be used for stationary energy storage.

Related articles:

Break-through in e-car battery technology ahead?

Redox batteries: flushing instead of charging

Tesla reveals USD5bn lithium-ion battery ‘Gigafactory’ manufacturing plans


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