Content - Switzerland's unique flow cell electric car races off

  • April 07, 2017

Switzerland's unique flow cell electric car races off

Tokyo (SCCIJ) - The battery-powered electric car is slowly getting popular worldwide, but Japan and Switzerland have each taken deviating paths to the electric future of the automobile industry. Whereas Japan's Toyota and Honda have commercialized the hydrogen car based on fuel cell technology, the startup nanoFlowcell from Kilchberg, Switzerland, is banking on its unique flow cell drive powered by ionic liquids. Its latest research advances were recently shown at the Geneva International Motor Show. The nanoFlowcell sports car QUANT 48VOLT is currently the lightest, safest, most environmentally compatible and most economical drive system available anywhere for electric vehicles. But the innovative Japanese and Swiss approaches to electric vehicles encounter the same hurdle - how to get new fuel when your tank is empty.

nanoFlowcell's QUANT48VOLT EV

Flow cell drive produces water

A flow battery is run with ionic liquids which are basically water with metallic salts. A pair of 200 liters tanks in the latest nanoFlowcell car holds ionic liquids with a positive and a negative charge. When pumped past a membrane, electricity is generated and stored in a battery which powers four electric motors. The result of the chemical reaction is water.    

The 560 kW (4 x 140 kW) electric motors in the QUANT 48VOLT accelerate the electric sports car from zero to 100 km/h in 2.4 seconds and onwards with no loss of acceleration to a top speed of 300 km/h (electronically limited). The anticipated range is around 1,000 km - 25 percent more than that of the high-voltage version of the QUANT FE sports car. 

According to its own judgement, nanoFlowcell has succeeded in developing the first ever controllable flow cell that enables a standalone design for low-voltage electric drives without the need for heavy and expensive supercapacitors. The previous model, the QUANT FE, achieved its exceptionally sporty performance figures with a 700 V high-voltage drive system, whereas the QUANT 48VOLT runs entirely on low-voltage technology.

What is inside of the nanoFlowcell QUANT48VOLT electric car (click to enlarge)

What is inside of the nanoFlowcell QUANT48VOLT electric car (click to enlarge)

Extreme performance at safe voltage

To compete in acceleration and power output with vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, conventional electric vehicles need electric drive systems with a battery voltage of 400 V and more. In fact, the automotive industry is currently contemplating increasing the voltage in electric vehicles to 800 V in future.  

With the QUANT 48VOLT, nanoFlowcell questions this development alternative for electric car technology and makes a globally unique statement: Flow cell technology in the QUANT 48VOLT delivers extreme performance (more than 560 kW) at safe battery voltages (48 V). The key is the improved membrane structure of the nanoFlowcell and the connection of several flow cells.  

The QUANT 48VOLT not only dispenses with the performance skepticism levelled at electric vehicles but also addresses the safety concerns surrounding them. With an electric drive that operates at low voltages across the board, the entire vehicle is inherently safe from an electrical standpoint. The way they are structured, the flow cell's poles can be touched with no risk to life or limb.

In contrast to conventional lithium-ion battery systems, there is absolutely no danger of road users or first responders suffering an electric shock from a nanoFlowcell 48VOLT system, even in the event of a serious accident. Furthermore, the nanoFlowcell® electrolyte liquids are neither flammable nor explosive.  

Standardization for industrial-scale production of the low-voltage parts for a nanoFlowcell 48VOLT electric car also offers substantial benefits - no expensive measures relating to high-voltage safety have to be met, leading to significant cost reductions in development, production and maintenance. The technical servicing of a nanoFlowcell 48VOLT electric car can, for instance, be conducted by technicians without specialist high-voltage training.    


Text and photos: nanoFlowcell

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