Flow cell challenges litihium ion

March 04, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
At the Geneva Motor show, Nanoflowcell AG has introduced an electrically driven sports sedan with remarkable features: The vehicle is powered by an innovative energy storage system - a hybrid of battery and fuel cell. The technology could emerge as a serious contender to existing lithium ion batteries.

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