Unveiled last year at the Geneva Motor Show, the original Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine electric car was sexy, fast, and unique. It seated four, had full-length gull-wing doors and a claimed 0-62 time of 2.9 seconds thanks to a quartet of in-wheel electric motors.
It also managed a top speed of 217 mph and boasted a claimed range of 372 miles, powered not by a massive lithium-ion battery pack like the Tesla Model S but by a flow cell: a device which generates electricity by passing two different electrolytic liquids either side of a special membrane.
This year, after eight months of on-the-road testing in Germany, Nanoflowcell says it will unveil two new flowcell cars at next-month’s Geneva Motor Show: the Quant F and Quantino concept cars.
Unlike an electric car filled with a lithium-ion battery pack, vehicles using the Nanoflowcell technology can be refilled with freshly-charged electrolyte as quickly as an internal combustion engined vehicle’s fuel tank can be filled with petrol, and combines the best elements of an electric car with the freedom and refuelling speed of a gasoline or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
While still a concept car, Nanoflowcell says the Quant F — based on last year’s Quant e — is a completely redesigned vehicle that is as close to a production model as it has produced to date. As a consequence, the Quant F retains some of its predecessor’s features, but tweaked and tuned to make it more of a useful road-going car.
As with last year’s car, the Quant F has seating for four, with two massive gull wing doors and no B-Pillar, allowing simultaneous access to both front and rear seats. Despite some of the issues that other automakers have faced bringing upward-opening doors to market, Nanoflowcell says the external design and doors are ‘production ready’.
Interestingly, while the Quant F is based on the same nanoflow power cell and quartet of in-wheel electric motors as last year’s concept, it has received a cut in top speed from 2017 mph to 186 mph. Unlike the previous version, the Quant F now operates as a two-wheel drive car, with four-wheel drive only engaging when extra power or traction is required.
It has also received a 912 horsepower (644 horsepower in two wheel drive) increase to overall system power, giving it a theoretical estimated power output of 1075 horsepower. Meanwhile, Nanoflowcell has increased claimed range from 372 miles to 500 miles.
According to Nanoflowcell, the show version of the Quant F is around 90 percent complete, with only a little extra work needed to help it pass homologation in both the U.S. and Europe.
The second of Nanoflowcell’s new cars to be unveiled in Geneva is the Quantino, a smaller, 2+2 electric concept vehicle which the firm says represents a future mass-produced, everyday car.
Like its bigger brothers, the Quantino is powered by Nanoflowcell’s patented flow cell technology and comes complete with four in-wheel motors for all-wheel drive capability. Unlike the larger cars however, the Quantino uses smaller 25 kilowatt, 48-volt electric motors.
Traditionally used in low-speed vehicles rather than high-speed ones, low-voltage motors require a higher current in order to produce a given power than high-voltage motors, which in turn requires thicker cabling than an equally-powerful high-voltage system. Because low voltage systems need no flashover or contact protection, they’re easier to design and homologate than high-voltage systems, reducing design and development cost and time.
“To our knowledge, a low-voltage drive system has never been deployed before in a larger passenger car, such as is now being demonstrated on board of the QUANTiNO. The required drive output always restricted the spectrum of useful applications for a low-voltage system. This is all changing now with the nanoFlowcell®. Very high currents are required for the levels of drive output typically needed by vehicles,” said Nanoflow’s Chief Technical Officer Nunzio La Vecchia. “This necessitates exceptionally large cable cross-sections and increased transmission losses with high-voltage systems. With the nanoFlowcell® we have been able to solve this problem. Here we generate very high currents at a very low rated voltage which are perfect for the purposes of the low-voltage system.”
With two 175-litre tanks on board, Nanoflowcell says the Quantino can carry 350 litres of ionic fuel in total: one with positively-charged electrolyte and one with negatively charged electrolyte in it. Combined, Nanoflowcell says the Quantino can travel more than 1,000 kilometres (625 miles) between fill ups. Top speed is limited to 124 mph.
While the Quantino is currently a concept car, Nanoflowcell says it should have approval from the German TÜV this year to enable it to start road testing, with production plans as yet undisclosed.
Here at TransportEvolved, we love the idea of the flow cell battery, but like hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, flow cell vehicles only become attractive when there’s a robust and existing refuelling infrastructure. At the moment, that’s not even being discussed.
Do you like the idea of Nanoflowcell technology? Would you prefer it over a conventional gasoline or electric vehicle? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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