Salt water-powered electric car
approved for roads in Europe

| 33 comments

News: a company that claims to have developed the first electric car powered by salt water says the vehicle has now been approved for testing on public roads in Germany and the EU (+ slideshow).

Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine runs on saltwater

Nanoflowcell, which designed the Quant e-Sportlimousine, has received official approval to test its e-Sportlimousine on the roads from German industry certification organisation TÜV Süd.



In development for 14 years, the four-seated car measures roughly 5.25 metres in length and sports what its creators say is an entirely new kind of energy storage system, also called Nanoflowcell. The company claims that the automobile is capable of speeds of 350 kilometres per hour and acceleration of 0-100 kilometres per hour in just 2.8 seconds, and can travel distances of 600 kilometres with a full tank of a petrol made from a salt water solution.

Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine runs on saltwater

An electrochemical reaction is created by combining two liquids with metallic salts acting as the electrolyte. These solutions are pumped through a fuel cell where an anode or cathode electrode is located, creating electricity that is then forwarded to super capacitors within the car.

Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine runs on saltwater

Compared to conventional technologies, one litre of the salty liquid contains 400 times more energy than a typical lead-acid battery, and the prototype car carries two 200-litre tanks on board, the company states.

Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine runs on saltwater

The Quant e-Sportlimousine concept made its initial debut at the Geneva Motorshow 2014, where it was met with some scepticism by critics. A separate Quant car had appeared at the same show in 2009 but never made it to market.

Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine runs on saltwater

However, the news that the vehicle has been deemed safe for public roads has prompted renewed interest in the prototype.

Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine runs on saltwater

According to Nanoflowcell’s Nunzio La Vecchia, the firm has partnered with German electronics company Bosch Engineering GmbH to further develop the technology, and it hopes to release four more prototypes throughout 2014.

Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine runs on saltwater

"Transforming an initial prototype into a series-production vehicle that can be used around the world is a big challenge," La Vecchia said in an interview. "We are certain that we can manage it with this established and experienced partner."

Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine runs on saltwater

La Vecchia said in a statement that the approval from TÜV Süd marks a "milestone" not just for the prototype, but potentially for mobility in general.

Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine runs on saltwater

"For the first time an automobile featuring flow-cell electric drive will appear on Germany’s roads," he said. "We are extremely proud that as a small company we have developed such visionary technology and are now able to put it into practice. But this is only the beginning of our journey of discovery."

Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine runs on saltwater

He added that investors and auto manufacturers showed "tremendous interest" in the e-Sportlimousine, and that the firm is now working at "top speed" on certifying the vehicle for series production.

The future of driving is the subject of the Dezeen and MINI Frontiers exhibition during this week's London Design Festival. The exhibition at designjunction, 21-23 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1BA, will run from 17 to 21 September and showcase six proposals for transport by emerging designers.

  • Marco Lammers

    Why compare it to a battery-driven car when it is essentially a fuel-cell concept ?

    Instead of the reaction between fuel and oxygen it is a chemical reaction between two salt-solutions. In which sense these salt-solutions have advantages over the ‘traditional’ fuel-and-oxygen-solution is unclear to me (no word about this in the article).

    Anyway, with batteries it has nothing in common – it does not store electricity, it generates it. As such it unfortunately has the same problem as every other alternative fuel concept: even when it can prove to have great advantages, it’ll require infrastructure to distribute the fuel.

    The typical problem is that you’ll need a critical mass of users get your infrastructure built and an infrastructure to get your critical mass of users.

    • Cercuitspark

      Both are based on RedOks reactions, easily comparable to me.

    • Ray W

      Cue buyout by major oil company who deems it ‘inefficient and unprofitable’.

  • BriH

    They have compared the car to a battery one because the current obtained from the electrolytic reaction is stored by capacitors. It could equally be stored in a battery. The capacitors allow a better release of this energy. A fuel cell directly uses the energy obtained by the reaction.

  • I find it fascinating because only a few centuries ago salt was valued and sought after in society. Now it is being used to generate energy to propel a vehicle. It’s a fascinating concept.

    When it comes to refuelling stations, it seems likely, that you could deliver solid salt and make your own fuel solutions, saving fuel costs in transportation by not moving liquids.

    I wonder what the life of the fuel system is like on this car.

    • Wiggletoes

      The technology has been independently tested for 300,000 miles, cost about the same as a diesel of the same capacity when mass produced, and can be charged with electricity like a battery at home but can also be refuelled at a station in minutes. It’s the charge and discharge thermal efficiencies that I have questions about.

    • Cercuitspark

      I’m guessing this is not NaCl, but other metallic salts.

  • Dr ashok Gupta

    Seems brilliant – a most advanced electrochemical powerhouse. The cost of production and regeneration of these wonder salts will determine the feasibility.

  • old engineer

    To say that the car is fuelled by sea water is sheer nonsense and ignorance.

  • Whatevs

    Water-powered car? Nonsense.

  • Ralph Kent

    Interesting how they can make all these claims regarding top speed, range and acceleration, yet it seems impossible to view any footage of a real car actually moving.

    This appears to be a great example of slick marketing, fancy CGI animations and product design, but why is there no genuine footage of this vehicle on the move, powered per the claims?

    • Mr.Traen

      Here you are, moaner. Google is a revolutionary tool! http://www.nanoflowcell.com/en

      • Ralph Kent

        A link to a site of CGIs which I had unsurprisingly already visited. So, thanks for that. Show me a real, manufactured, moving vehicle powered as claimed. That’s not ‘moaning’, its just not believing all the marketing spiel you’re spoonfed.

        You did realise all those images and animations were CGIs, didn’t you?

      • Ralph Kent

        Did you follow your own link by the way? The prototype is still ‘under advanced development’. QED the claims are their hopes and this is all still currently speculation. Google is indeed a revolutionary tool, but one that assumes the user has the ability to a) read and b) understand what they have read.

        • Charles

          What makes you think that’s CGI? Also, you are moaning. Might as well start claiming man will never fly next.

          • Ralph Kent

            Dear me Charles! If you can’t recognise that movie clip as a CGI then I don’t know where to begin. It clearly doesn’t take much to pull the wool over your eyes, but I think we’ve established that.

            Notice how there are no photographs of the cars in the public realm, just images supplied by the company and obviously a non-moving prototype of the bodywork at the Geneva motor show.

            Do you know much about physics? Have you considered how much energy would be required to split water into its constituent elements to power a car by hydrogen? Have a read and educate yourself:

            http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070914/full/news070910-13.html

            Charles, if by ‘moaning’ you mean that I’m not a gullible sucker who gets duped by CGIs as reality and believe pseudoscience that the scientific community have disproven a long time ago, then I’m guilty as charged. Ignorance is bliss, so I’ll leave you to your utopia.

    • damspam

      It was approved for road use in Bavaria. How is a vehicle approved for road use if it doesn’t go on roads? Sounds like an oil-stained argument.

      • Ralph Kent

        http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070914/full/news070910-13.html

        In case you can’t be bothered to read that, here is the key thing you need to understand:

        QUOTING from nature:

        “Can you get more energy out than you put in?

        I can answer that right now: no. You start with water, you break it apart into its constituent elements (hydrogen and oxygen), and then you recombine them by burning. Yes you can do that.

        Hydrogen, indeed, is the promised fuel of the new clean energy economy. But making hydrogen from water takes more energy than you can ever recover from burning it.

        Extracting net energy from this total cycle is impossible, if you believe in the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Otherwise, you have the basis of a perpetual-motion machine.

        But ‘energy for free’ enthusiasts don’t want to know about thermodynamics. Thermodynamics is a killjoy. Thermodynamics is like big government or big industry, always out to squash innovation.

        Thermodynamics is the enemy of the Edisonian spirit of the backyard inventor.

    • grim reaper

      I guess you don’t believe that humans landed on the moon either.

      • Ralph Kent

        Did you read the article: http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070914/full/news070910-13.html

        Or indeed any of the other numerous, peer-reviewed scientific journals on burning water?

        Or do you like to operate like a lot of people who inhabit the design world and think that “anything’s possible” if you simply believe it enough – even if it defies gravity, the second law of thermodynamics, etc, etc. You gotta dream, eh?

  • Tim Gilding

    I personally think that if they can sort this out as a genuine solution to the declining oil supply issue, then this is a brilliant idea. Time will tell if it works though…

  • perigeum

    It’s a prototype, so it’s to be expected that not all problems are solved yet. In my book they would gain a tremendous amount of credibility if they mentioned the problems they still need to solve.

    Now it is hard to distinguish if this is just another nice, green-sounding and super hip design, but reality is crap when you find out the nitty-gritty. Please convince me, I want to believe.

  • Within the next years we’ll either be powering vehicles with salt or killing each other for it.

    • Charles

      Better than eating it in everything.

  • Graham Finch

    What would happen if you used freshwater?

  • ES
  • My 2 cents

    400 times the energy density of lead batteries is more energy than in gasoline… That smells really fishy.

  • damspam

    I know what you mean. Salt water is rare and expensive. It will take quite an investment to distribute salt water.

    • nicoledanielli

      How? The ocean is salt water. Can’t I make it by adding salt to water?

  • Sledge1998

    You have to know that big oil will never let this make it to market. They will offer these people a gazillion dollars for the rights and then bury it. The designers will walk away, wealthy and happy.

    • Ralph Kent

      More like the first and second laws of thermodynamics will never let this make it to market… I doubt the designers will walk away rich from the mythical propulsion technology, but they might do okay financially as product designers or CGI visualizers.

  • Yodaweed

    Sign me up.

  • goldbergstein

    Wow! I hear the car also walks your dog and can core an apple. Holy sh*t batman!