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nanoFLOWCELL unveils flow cell battery prototype vehicle

5 March 2014

Powertrain of the QUANT. The two 200L (400L, 106 gallons US total) electrolyte tanks are packaged in the rear and central tunnel of the vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Liechtenstein-based nanoFLOWCELL unveiled the QUANT e-Sportslimousine, a prototype vehicle equipped with a nanoFLOWCELL flow cell battery powertrain, at the Geneva Motor Show. This flow cell system supports an electric driving range of between 400 to 600 km (249 to 373 miles) in the QUANT e-Sportlimousine prototype, the company claims.

Flow cells or flow batteries combine aspects of an electrochemical battery cell with those of a fuel cell. The electrolytic fluids in flow cells—usually metallic salts in aqueous solution—are pumped from tanks through the cell. This forms a kind of battery cell with a cross-flow of electrolyte liquid. One advantage of this system in general is that the larger the storage tanks for the electrolyte fluid are, the greater the energy capacity. Too, the concentration of an electrolytic solution contributes to the the quantity of energy that it transports.

QUANT e-Sportslimousine. Click to enlarge.

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. At a nominal voltage of 600 V and 50 A nominal current, the system in the lab is achieving continuous output of 30 kW.

According to nanoFLOWCELL, its flow battery has a specific energy of about 5-times that of a Li-ion battery (600 Wh/kg compared to ~120 Wh/kg). The company attributes the performance of the nanoFLOWCELL to the characteristics of its newly-developed, and unspecified, electrolytic fluids, made up of metallic salts at very high concentration. Slightly more specifically, the company says that a large increase in the number of charge carriers in the electrolyte fluid within the nanoFLOWCELL significantly increased its performance compared to conventional redox flow-cells (about 5x the specific energy and several orders of magnitude more specific power).

The company also claims its flow cells can go through 10,000 charging cycles with no noticeable memory effect and suffer almost no self-discharging.

The first QUANT e-Sportlimousine prototype carries two 200-liter (53 gallons US) tanks on board, for a total energy capacity of 120 kWh. The QUANT e-Sportlimousine energy consumption is about 20 kWh/100 km, when driving in the lower load range. Increasing the tank volume of the QUANT e-Sportlimousine to 800 liters would be possible, the company says.

Once the electrolytic fluids are discharged, the contents of both tanks must to be replaced. The prototype features a double tank system with dual filler necks, one for each electrolyte, to keep times for the electrolyte liquid replacement to a minimum.

Powertrain. In addition to the flow cell, the QUANT uses four electric motor units (120 kW continuous, 170 kW peak per unit) for all-wheel drive with torque vectoring and two supercapacitor banks for energy storage. Peak torque per wheel is 2,900 N·m (2,139 lb-ft). The company says acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is 2.8 seconds.

A central VCU (vehicle control unit) is responsible for controlling the driving- and charging-currents throughout the entire powertrain.

The supercaps provide power to the four drive motors, and also serve as a general energy buffer for the vehicle’s electrical system and storage for regenerative braking energy.

In February, nanoFLOWCELL AG announced a partnership with Bosch Engineering GmbH to further develop vehicle electronics for the QUANT e-Sportlimousine.

According Nunzio La Vecchia, the head of development of the QUANT e-Sportlimousine, the company is planning on producing four drivable prototypes in 2014.

Established in late 2013, nanoFLOWCELL AG (formerly JUNO Technology Products AG) is a Research and Development Centre based in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. The focus of nanoFLOWCELL AG’s research is on the advanced development of drive technology and the classification of flow-cell technology. In 2009, the company showed the NLV Quant prototype at the Geneva Motor Show. The QUANT e-Sportslimousine is a completely new development, both technically and optically, compared to the NLV Quant.

March 5, 2014 in Batteries, Electric (Battery) | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)


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Terrific potential range but the 200 to 400 liters tank + super caps bank will make the car rather heavy?

Future 5-5-5 quick charge batteries seem to be more practical.

Who needs 2,139 ft. lbs. of torque at the wheels providing a neck jerking acceleration of zero to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds?

Not cost comparison with Li ion batteries nor a word about safety advantages.

I have mixed feeling with that king of approach because you need a new infrastructure to distribute the fuel, and recycle the waste in fuel again. Not sure it is practical

The car looks 'nice', the idea of primary cell electrolite (not able to be recharged ) sucks.

No regen braking capture to this primary cell
possible hence capacitor regen.

Is the secret recipe electrolite built this way intentionally by some world domination megalithic company or just the Archiles heel of an impractical technology.

Liechtenstein-based. Oh. - well?

Loads of flashy videos here, all presented by a man who if he has nothing else at least has hair which is absolutely epic:

In some ways the refueling infrastructure may not be a lot more costly than hydrogen. If they could recondition the fluid in a garage based unit, like Honda has with their Clarity hydrogen refueling station, it could be possible.

With 680Kw max power for ~3 sec. to 100kph, wouldn't it require the 30Kw flow power unit 680/30 = 23 sec x 3=69 sec. to replenish that acceleration energy draw, w/o losses?

And several times longer if it were to maintain 100 kph after it got there? Plus some VERY large/expensive super capacitors.

400 liter is a lot of volume wasted on fuel capacity, besides the volume of the fuel cell... uh...FlowCell itself AND the volume of supercap required. The article states gravimetric energy density of 600Wh/kg. Assuming minimum density of the ionic liquid is 1kg/liter, then 120 kWh would require a volume of 120/.6 = 200 liters, NOT TWO 200-liter tanks. So, only one 200-liter tank would be needed, NOT two tank! or there won't be much luggage capacity left!

Adding the required FlowCell and the SuperCap, and the gravimetric density won't exceed Panasonic NCA-18650 at ~250-300 Wh/kg. Still, the FlowCell battery would still be competitive with other Lithium batteries, especially the rapid recharging, but not with H2. H2 tank has almost 3 x the gravimetric energy density, at 2,000 Wh/kg for CF tank at 350 bars pressure, or 1,660 Wh/kg at 700 bars pressure. H2 can do seasonal energy storage, while this battery may be too expensive as seasonal energy storage medium.

Though, at 10,000 charging cycles, the battery is pretty good as backup for home-based solar PV's, but Panasonic NCA-18650 can do 5,000 cycles already with only 18% loss of capacity!

If this system could regenerate its own liquids on-board, it would be a great answer to a Telsa.  You'd just plug it in at home, and use fluid replacement on the road.  Supercharger-like stations would be sufficient, and probably much faster.

When fluid replacement is the only way to charge, it can't go beyond its fueling infrastructure.  Not nearly so desirable.

I think they're targeting luxury sports car drivers because their fuel cell and capacitors are probably very expensive.

@RP, they need a source tank and depleted fuel tank, so 2x200 liters. The volume doesn't have to be crazy...think a 1-meter square, 40 cm tall, plus structure.

I don't much like the idea. I'd like it better if they could reprocess their fluid with a completely reversible process. Also, how do the conversion losses compare to lithium batteries? I'm guessing that's also a problem.

With tubing and structure, the two tanks will take up almost 1/2 cubic meter (500 liters) which is about 16 cubic feet, or about the whole trunk space of many sedans.
By contrast, a 16-gallon gasoline tank in a typical 5-seat sedan takes up only 60 liters, and takes up the entire space below the rear seat! A FCV with a 4-kg H2 tank takes about 88 liters of volume.

Sale potential relates to ample of internal space.

You only need one tank per fluid.  The tank contains two bladders, one for the fresh fluid, one for the spent fluid.  As one is emptied, the other one is filled.

Take a look at the volume and weight of a Tesla battery pack that can go the same distance as this design, if that is possible. There are many cubic feet and more than 1000 pounds, so I don't see the problem.

I agree that it would be nice to recondition the fluid on board by just plugging it in, but the would be like saying an FCV should do the same, just add water and power.

In the begining of article it is mentioning that battery is rechargable. I believe it is so since normaly redox bateries are recharchable by reversing fow from depleted fluid tank to the charged fluid.

If they have about the same qualities (range, power, price), I would rather have this "salt-water" flow battery in may car than an H2 FC stack.

H2 is a fairly dangerous material. It is enough to have an H2 leak once or twice the lifetime of the FC car to invite catastrophe to your life. I would have to see VERY STRONG assurances regarding H2 handling before I let an FC car near my garage.

This flow battery however, would be great for stationary energy storage for large amounts of renewable energy.

Treehugger and others seem to have the notion that you'd drive into the filling station and get electrolyte liquids pumped into your car. As I understand it, not so. You fill 'er up by pumping in electricity, just like a Tesla or Leaf or Volt. The only difference between this car and the other electrics is that the charge is stored using liquids instead of solids. Right?

If so, then the value of this battery vs the solid ones boils down to the usual criteria for evaluating batteries: efficiency, range, and safety.

Here's a video that I found helpful:

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