By Allen Penticoff
Got $1.7 million burning a hole in your pocket? Then, you may wish to get on the delivery list for the sexy Quant e-Sportlimousine (pictured) — a salt water-fueled electric car that produces 920 horsepower and a jaw-dropping 2,139 foot pounds of torque! That’s going to suck the doors right off the already damn fast Tesla S sedan. Acceleration is 0-62 mph in 2.8 seconds, with a top speed of 217 mph. Range with a full tank of ionic fluid (salt water) will be 373 miles … but until there are salt water* pumps at the corner gas station, you may want to stick close to an ocean.
The Quant e-Sportlimousine was just unveiled at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show and is now undergoing road testing in Germany. NanoFlowCell is the maker of the car, and its power source is an “electrolyte flow cell power system.” As reported by Green Car Congress, the definition of an electrolyte flow cell is: “Flow cells or flow batteries combine aspects of an electrochemical battery cell with those of a fuel cell. The electrolytic fluids in flow cells — usually metallic salts in aqueous solution (salt water) — are pumped from tanks through the cells. This forms a kind of battery cell with cross-flow of electrolyte liquid.” It is similar to a hydrogen fuel cell, except the salt water is used for storing power. Two electrolytes combine to cause an electrochemical reaction. Then, electric motors as generators use this power to make electricity that is then stored and distributed by super capacitors. Efficiency is 80 percent, with minimal waste heat as compared to use of lithium-ion batteries for storage.
This is rather exciting news. While few of us will be driving one, or few of anyone, for that matter, this technology has great potential, as costs will eventually be driven down through increased production and use of the technology in many areas. At present, a sexy fast car gets everyone’s attention, a la Tesla Roadster, then the more mundane (yet attractive) appearing (Tesla S), then the ordinary and less expensive (Tesla X).
This flow cell technology can be used in marine, aviation, rail and stationary power generation applications. It will be interesting to watch it develop. Will it become our dominant source of clean, sustainable and low-cost power?
While researching salt water power, I came upon a similar story. In this case, a scientist, John Kanzius, was diagnosed with leukemia. Rather than undergo chemotherapy, he developed an idea to use focused radio waves made with a radio frequency generator (RFG) to zap a small metallic object in the tumor to destroy it. While conducting experiments, it was noticed that nearby test tubes were condensing water. Could RFG be used to desalinate water — and supply fresh water to a thirsty world? Further experiments had more unusual results — the salt water exposed to RFG would produce hydrogen and burn at up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, as long as the RFG was on. Hmm …
This experiment will not yield us a new power source. Hydrogen can be burned directly in an engine, or used in a hydrogen fuel cell, but making hydrogen is problematic — it takes energy to make it. Presently, making hydrogen with electrolysis involves two cathodes with vast electrical flow between them. The cathodes erode from this activity as well. Here, the use of RFG may speed up the process and be more reliable as long as a cheap source of renewable electricity is available. Hydroelectric power is used in Europe to create hydrogen that is used in cars. Not so much here. But we could well have solar panels and wind turbines convert salt water to hydrogen, store it, and produce power through fuel cells during the night or when there is no wind. Excess hydrogen can be sold for transportation or blended into natural gas pipelines.
Will our rising oceans be a source of power? Could be. Stay tuned.
* Salt water pertains to water with salt in it. Salt water pertains to water in an ocean. Rather than ship ocean water to Illinois, it may be more practical to make salt water from fresh water sources, although I would rather not.
From the Oct. 1-7, 2014, issue