300 km/h in The World’s First Electric Sports Car with 48 V Low-Voltage Flow Cell Drive
It took a long time. The development team at nanoFlowcell Holdings had worked for several years to make fuel cells directly controllable. Having finally succeeded in achieving direct variable control of a fuel cell in October 2016, the company now wants to demonstrate the potential of direct fuel cell drive and has built a true eye-catcher in the shape of the world's fastest eco sports car. The QUANT 48VOLT is the prototype of a new generation of electric vehicles. It is equipped with what is currently the safest, most powerful, environmentally compatible and economical drive system for electric vehicles that could be built in series production, and provides a view of our future mobility.
The QUANT 48VOLT comes dressed in an extravagant bodyshell as befitting an electric sports car that is utterly unique in the automotive industry. With the distinctive design of its QUANT prototypes, the company is cultivating an individual EV style that has become the expression of widely accessible exclusivity in electric mobility. However, the 2+2 sports saloon wants to do more than just look good; it wants to shine first and foremost though its performance. The obvious questions are quickly addressed: It catapults from zero to 100 km/h in 2.4 seconds and onwards without any dip in acceleration to reach an electronically limited top speed of 300 km/h just a few seconds later. Impressive. But the truly impressive aspect of the QUANT 48VOLT is subtler than that.
"The top speed of the QUANT 48VOLT is actually secondary," explains Nunzio La Veccia, Chief Technology Officer of nanoFlowcell Holdings. "What matters is that our nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT drive delivers environmentally friendly, real-life performance - by which I mean zero harmful emissions, a comfortable cruising speed AND respectable range. But we're not just tackling the performance scepticism levelled at electric vehicles. We're the only company to address the safety concerns associated with electric mobility. The electric drive in the QUANT 48VOLT is consistently maintained at a low voltage, making it the world's safest electric sports car from an electrical perspective."
It is important to understand that conventional electric vehicles are equipped with high-voltage drive systems which operate at dangerously high levels of more than 400 volts. In fact, the automotive industry is even considering increasing the voltage in electric vehicles to 800 V in future to achieve more attractive performance for their electric models.
With the QUANT 48VOLT, nanoFlowcell Holdings is placing a big question mark above this potential development in electric automotive technology and making its own globally unique statement: Flow cell technology in the QUANT 48VOLT enables extreme performance (>560 kW output) and exemplary range (anticipated at >1,000 kilometres) with a safe battery voltage (maximum 48 V).
The intrinsic safety of the nanoFlowcell® means its poles can be touched without danger to life and limb. In contrast to conventional lithium-ion battery systems, there is no risk of an electric shock to road users or first responders even in the event of a serious accident. Thermal runaway, as can occur with lithium-ion batteries and lead to the vehicle catching fire, is not structurally possible with a nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT drive. The bi-ION electrolyte liquid - the liquid "fuel" of the nanoFlowcell® - is neither flammable nor explosive. Furthermore, the electrolyte solution is in no way harmful to health or the environment. Even in the worst-case scenario, no danger could possibly arise from either the nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive or the bi-ION electrolyte solution.
Lower voltage, lower costs
While the preceding model, the QUANT FE, achieved its exceptionally sporty performance figures with a 700 V high-voltage drive system, the electric traction motors in the QUANT 48VOLT run entirely on low voltage.
The QUANT 48VOLT features for the first time innovative 45-phase low-voltage motors that deliver high power paired with a minimal cross-section for the electric wiring. Four 140 kW low-voltage motors make the QUANT 48VOLT the most powerful all-wheel drive low-voltage electric sports car on the planet.
The USP of these low-voltage motors is their solid aluminium mesh structure, which replaces the complicated copper windings found in conventional electric motors. This reduces the volume of the motor relative to its power, while lowering weight and cost and simplifying series production.
The electric motor's low induced voltage means that cost-effective MOSFETs can be used in the QUANT 48VOLT instead of the expensive HV IGBTs in the QUANT FE. The absence of inverters, HV control units and other HV electronics delivers substantial reductions in weight and cost.
Moreover, a nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive does not require any expensive measures for high-voltage safety, which lowers not only the cost of development and production but also the price of the electric vehicle itself. Maintenance benefits arise from the fact that a QUANT with nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive can be serviced by personnel without high-voltage training. This significantly reduces the (financial) outlay for future owners of an electric vehicle equipped with nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT (regardless of brand).
Broad performance spectrum
The nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT drive has revolutionary options for control. For instance, the magnetic field in the low-voltage motors can be shaped to suit, with electronic fading between different pole-pair numbers effectively constituting the integration of an electromagnetic transmission within the motor. The maximum efficiency of the low-voltage motors can thus be extended across the entire rev/torque map and the correct "gear" selected depending on driving conditions. The makes the nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT drive extremely efficient, especially in driving cycles relevant to everyday use. Compared to electric drives with asynchronous motors, losses were reduced by around 50 percent on the same driving cycle with the nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive.
Further benefits of the low-voltage motors used in the nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT are in overload scenarios. The vertex familiar from conventional, wound electric motors is not present, as a voltage reserve is maintained at all times. This means that maximum torque is still available even at high revs.
A torque limiter is necessary for conventional high-voltage electric vehicles, primarily to conserve the traction battery. After extremely heavy acceleration, electric cars often have to drive throttled for several minutes to allow the electric motor and traction battery to cool down. However, this only applies to electric vehicles that are not equipped with nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive.
Flow cell power
Now that the flow cell is directly controlled, the heavy and expensive supercapacitors, which previously served as buffer storage for the energy supplied by the nanoFlowcell®, are no longer required in the redesigned nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive. Because the flow cell itself also functions at low voltage, the power electronics in the QUANT 48VOLT have likewise been massively simplified compared to the system in the QUANT FE. To provide the drive energy necessary for extreme acceleration from zero to 100 km/h in 2.4 seconds and the high cruising speed, six flow cells are now been used simultaneously the first time, creating a total capacity of around 300 kWh (by comparison, the QUANT FE had just one fuel cell with a capacity of 70 kWh). Using several fuel cells ensures that more bi-ION electrolyte can be discharged in a short period of time, thus generating more drive energy.
Redesigned cell membranes are being used for the first time in the flow cell of the nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive. After two-and-a-half years of development work, the R&D team succeeded in engineering a nano-technology procedure for processing the membrane surface to achieve many times the surface area within almost the same dimensions, thus creating a far larger reaction surface for the bi-ION electrolytes. In future, this new membrane design will enable the nanoFlowcell® to take full advantage of a higher energy density in the bi-ION electrolyte solution (more than 600 Wh/l).
The QUANT 48VOLT with nanoFlowcell® low-voltage drive is forward-looking electric mobility and differs very distinctly from the mainstream in that the nanoFlowcell® is not harmful to either health or the environment.
The world’s best electric sports car – or our energy of tomorrow?
In a low-voltage sports car like the QUANT 48VOLT, nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT demonstrates power and performance, thus raising awareness of what is currently the lightest, safest, most environmentally responsible and economical drive unit there is for electric vehicles.
La Vecchia: "For many people, the QUANT 48VOLT is a desirable sports car and the world's most advanced electric car. However, visionaries will see in this small power station, which could easily provide a fully autonomous supply of electricity to an average household, the future of environmentally compatible yet affordable energy supply." At the moment, nanoFlowcell Holdings is showing its flow cell technology almost exclusively in the form of stunning sports cars. Nevertheless, the company sees enormous potential in a raft of other industrial uses, particularly in stationary energy applications.
Top speed km/h: 300
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 2.4s
Transmission: Automatic Drive: All-wheel drive
Number of doors: 2
Number of seats: 2+2
Type: 4x low-voltage synchronous motors
Fuel type: Electric (bi-ION) Maximum power kW (hp): 560 (760)
Maximum torque (Nm): 2,000 per wheel
Voltage (V): 48
Capacity (kWh): 300
Rated current (A): max 1,500 per cell
Energy consumption: tba
Tank volume (l): 2x 200
Range (km): >1,000
Harmful emissions: 0