At this week’s Auto Salon in Geneva, the three Quant concept vehicles, built by Leichtenstein-based nanoFlowcell, were drawing a lot of admiring stares. One thing is undisputed: the new Quant F is a beautiful automobile, with huge gull-wing doors, a spaceship-style interior with a vast dashboard display, and lines that flow like the ionized liquids that power it.
The company’s unique powertrain, however, elicits more mixed reactions. In lieu of a traditional battery, Quant vehicles store energy in two tanks of non-flammable liquid electrolytes. The flow battery system, which works like a combination of a battery and a fuel cell, pumps the liquid electrolytes through the cell. At the heart of the system is a membrane that separates two differing chemistries. A controlled exchange of charges releases energy for the electric powertrain.
A company spokesman clarified that the vehicle can’t be charged from an electrical outlet – refueling means replacing the proprietary liquids. The company envisions dispensers being installed at existing gas stations.
While nanoFlowcell obviously has a big challenge to overcome as regards fueling infrastructure, some industry observers have more fundamental doubts about the viability of the company’s flow cell technology, notably the perennially skeptical Jalopnik.
nanoFlowcell is pressing ahead with the homologation process, and expects to have a production vehicle ready a little over two years from now.