This sports car runs on saltwater—but it – s no threat to Tesla

This sports car runs on saltwater—but it’s no threat to Tesla


When a months-old company called NanoFlowcell AG demonstrated up at the Geneva Motor Demonstrate in March 2014, debuting its prototype for a «supercar» powered by saltwater-filled flow battery, onlookers appeared intrigued but skeptical.

Yes, the Quant e-Sportlimousine was snazzy, and enough research was being done to suggest that liquid-flow batteries (which combine the technologies in regular batteries and fuel cells) could be the future of electrified cars, but there was good reason to question the car`s prospects. NanoFlowcell`s founder, Nunzio La Vecchia, had brought another «Quant» car to Geneva before, in 2009, which never made it past the auto demonstrate circuit. And however La Vecchia insisted that NanoFlowcell`s two thousand fourteen prototype was downright different, few were persuaded that it would ever be seen on actual roads. «It`s possible we can see this type of system utilized in the next few decades,» wrote «So check back with TopSpeed in twenty years or so for any updates.»

But now that the Quant e-Sportlimousine has been approved for use on European roads, there`s more enthusiasm, and some in the tech media are making the inescapable comparison with the high-profile luxury electrical carmaker Tesla Motors and its Model S. The concept of the car, after all, is stupendously attractive. It has four motors–one for each wheel–powered by electro-therapy generated from a process of filtering ionic liquid, or saltwater. The car carries the electrolyte fluids in two adjacent 200-liter tanks separated by a membrane. The fluids in each tank are slightly different, and it`s the reaction inbetween them when they cross the membrane that creates electro-stimulation.

NanoFlowcell says its car can go for three hundred seventy miles on a single charge. Among the other (somewhat outlandish, and as yet unverified) claims: It takes Two.8 seconds to go from zero to sixty two miles per hour (the Tesla Model S takes Four.Two seconds to do the same); has a top speed of two hundred eighteen mph (almost one hundred mph swifter than the Tesla S); and peaks at nine hundred twenty horsepower (compared to four hundred sixteen for the Tesla S). Until road tests get underway, however, this might as well be fantasy. At least it`s a beautiful one:

General Electrified has been working on flow battery technology for years and announced in August two thousand thirteen that it aimed to power a car with a water-based battery for two hundred forty miles, tho’ there is no word on whether much progress has been made there. Flow cell batteries have the potential to power cars three times as far and for one-fourth the cost of lithium-ion batteries (the sort that industry darling Tesla Motors is betting big on), according to GE. Flow cell batteries are said to be safer, lighter, and lighter to recharge than lithium-ion ones, as well.

It`s a shame, then, that the makers of the Quant e-Sportlimousine had to put their amazing saltwater battery in a car that, should it ever hit the market, may cost about $1.7 million, making Tesla`s Model S luxury electrified car look like a bargain at $70,000 to $95,000.

And that`s why Tesla most likely has nothing to worry about here: If the only way to get a saltwater-powered battery into a car is to price it like a moderately sized mansion, then lithium-ion batteries just look even better.

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