Seriously I’m not using hyperbole, this thing could be the most important car you read about all day. So what the Hell is this thing? It looks quirky and it is extremely yellow. It is yet another EV from a company that calls themselves nanoFlowcell. While the Quantino may not have the big name pedigree of one of the World’s auto giants or even the EV prowess of Tesla but if it works it could completely change the EV game. It uses effectively salt water to power the electric motors Instead of having to plug the Quantino in or use volatile hydrogen.
I know what you’re thinking, I was thinking the same thing, Wait, what, how? The Quantino uses a low voltage system (first of its kind in a road legal car) to produce 136 horsepower. Not much but good enough to propel it to 60 in 5ish seconds and on to a top speed around 1235 mph. The “fuel” which called bi-Ion, is a closely guarded secret. Basically it is salt-water but is way, WAY more complicated than that. I do mean top-secret, nanoFlowcell is seeking a patent, but until then their secret sauce remains a mystery.
The whole process is simple enough. One part of the ‘bi-Ion’ fluid holds a positive charge, the other a negative charge. The car pumps these liquids through a membrane, where the interaction of the two creates electrical charge. The liquid is vapourised and released as ‘water dust’. Whatever the hell that is, but it is harmless and means the Quantino’s creates about as much harmful emissions as you do. This allows for a traditional “fuel tank” lay out. Thus solving the problem of having to recharge for hours when you run out of juice. Not to mention it isn’t as explody as hydrogen. Also by not carrying around heavy complicated battery systems this saves on weight so the car should handle pretty good.
The charge is stored in a supercapacitor, which is like an industrial-strength battery, capable of handling frequent charge use charge cycles than a regular battery. A supercapacitor is also much better at providing the quick bursts of power necessary for driving a motorised vehicle. It’s coups de grâce, it’s the size of a shoebox.
At this point you’re probably wondering, “If this tiny little tech company can figure this system out why hasn’t one of the industry giants figured it out?” This type of power generation was tested by NASA back in the 70’s. NASA concluded that this type of liquid did not have a good enough energy density, thus the program was abandoned. Having trusted NASA the auto giants gave up on the tech as well. Everyone but nanoFlowcell’s chief technical officer Nunzio la Vecchia who continued on soldiered on with the tech. He has been working with the chemistry, eventually leading to the Quantino’s revolutionary power system.
The Quantino’s low voltage system is not without its difficulties. For example, low voltage systems typically need huge, thick, heavy wires. la Vecchia states that the Quantino’s wires are no thicker than a human finger. Typically low voltage systems are used in go-carts, mobility scooters or other low-speed modes of transport. When scaled up to a street legal car sized vehicle, the biggest hurdle with this approach is heat. The smaller the wire, the more heat low voltage systems produce. Hence, their wires tend to be quite large. la Vecchia claims that his system’s high current, low voltage is able to avoid the buildup of excessive heat.
At this point in my research my brain started to hurt. I tried to wrap my head around this tech’s benefits with seemingly none of the drawbacks usually associated with this type of system. High current, low voltage requires a higher gauge of wire. By reducing the wire size the byproduct is heat. Heat inside a confined space like a car usually leads to fire. To quote Frankenstein’s Monster, “Fire Bad!” This lead me to consult Shifting Lanes’ in-house engineer. Apparently such a system is possible, however he cautions that anytime you use higher gauge wire (The higher the gauge the smaller the diameter) excessive heat build up is always a risk. Not knowing the exact design we do not know how nanoFlowcell circumvents the issue of heat. So many of the components on this car are awaiting patent approval that the exact design is not known.
I can sense your guarded optimism. I can sense, “That all sounds well and good but does it actually work?” Apparently it does. Last year, la Vecchia competed a 14-hour, 1100km endurance run in the Quantino. The limiting factor was not the fuel, or the wire or any of the things in this car that should hold it back. The car still had fuel left in the tanks. It la Vecchia’s back that ended the run. Though, after 14 hours at the wheel at speeds reaching up to 90 mph you can excuse the man for calling it quits. I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. The magic voodoo liquid that powers the car, it only costs $0.10/liter to produce.
So it works and it manages to do so without setting itself on fire. It runs on a renewable resource that costs next to nothing to produce. This needs to go into production immediately. This car will solve the fuel crisis, range anxiety and all that ails the automotive industry’s future. Well, not so fast there are some issues to report. First and foremost we need to approach this with guarded optimism. Small tech companies come out with tech that will change the world on a regular basis. While brilliant they don’t work when put into large-scale production. In addition I would like to see some vetting done to validate nanoFlowcell’s claims. You know the old adage, “If it sounds to good to be true it probably is.” Secondly, nanoFlowcell isn’t putting the car into production. Not now and not in the near and distant future. nanoFlowcell does not have the desire or capability to build the cars themselves. That said they are reportedly in discussions to sell the tech to an automaker in 2017. Lastly, it is unknown what the exact cost of this tech is. Hydrogen Fuel Cells are widely believed to be the future. However, they are expensive to produce thus limiting their viability to the masses.
Hopefully they aren’t full of sound and fury signifying nothing. I really want to see this tech take off. But first I want to see that it’s legit. If it is, and it can be done so at a reasonable cost, consider the automotive game changed forever.
Source: Top Gear