Viewpoint 396 days ago

What is nanoFlowcell®? And why is the answer to the ultimate question not 42?

The flow cell technology of nanoFlowcell will score the ecological hattrick of forward-looking energy production and storage that is clean, sustainable and cost efficient.

The global population is growing constantly and an estimated 10 billion people will be living on earth a little more than 30 years from now. In December 2015, the World Climate Conference in Paris reached a climate agreement that envisages limiting global warming to significantly below 2°C, if possible, 1.5°C. How can we conceivably solve ongoing population growth, increased traffic and the associated massive consumption of fossil fuels in a manner that is climate neutral? And for it to be realistic - preferably without any loss of comfort or convenience to the individual.

This was the starting point for nanoFlowcell AG in the research and development of flow cell technology. It was not a matter of developing hybrid concepts that consume less fossil fuel, but of creating a completely new form of zero-emissions mobility.

The electrolyte liquids in the nanoFlowcell® are ecologically harmless, present no danger to health and can be produced in infinite quantities. Every alternative fuel has its specific characteristics. Thus, nanoFlowcell AG pleads the case that nanoFlowcell® based on flow cell technology is an energy carrier and storage media that promises a sustainable future. The electrolyte liquids can be produced using any one of a wide range of energy sources, including solar and wind energy, bio-fuels and natural gas.

What can a QUANT vehicle with nanoFlowcell® drive contribute to environmental protection?

A vehicle with nanoFlowcell® drive is fuelled by electrical energy. The drive itself is handled by electric motors supplied with electricity from the nanoFlowcell®. The nanoFlowcell® stores electrical energy in chemical bonds, with the reactants supplied in dissolved form within a solvent. The two energy-storing electrolyte liquids circulate inside two separate circuits, with the ionic exchange occurring between them in the galvanic cell via a membrane, thus releasing electrical energy. During the operation of the nanoFlowcell®, the electrolyte liquid is vaporised with zero harmful impact on either the environment or health. Besides having zero emissions, nanoFlowcell® vehicles are also notable for their everyday usability, as they offer long range and are quick to refuel.

nanoFlowcell AG sees nanoFlowcell® vehicles as the most promising way to an environmentally compatible automobile.

Vehicles with nanoFlowcell® offer high energy efficiency, long range, fast refuelling and have absolutely zero emissions. QUANT vehicles with nanoFlowcell® are prototypes of an ideal vehicle - and not just from an environmental standpoint. The necessary structure for refuelling the vehicles with electrolyte liquids is completely straightforward. Because the electrolyte liquids are not harmful to health and are neither flammable nor explosive, fuel stations are not subject to any of the extraordinary stipulations required for fossil fuels or hydrogen.

Despite all the benefits, the future of nanoFlowcell® is surely also dependent on the speed of acceptance by automotive manufacturers and on how fast the industry moves away from obsolete concepts.

nanoFlowcell® in tomorrow's world

The current QUANT vehicles with nanoFlowcell® drive show how we could smooth the path to the electromobility of the future. However, the vision of its inventor, Nunzio La Vecchia, goes further than that. Comparatively high energy density for an electric storage medium, high efficiency and the environmentally friendly storage of electrical energy also open up the perspectives of nanoFlowcell® technology in other application areas, such as air and space travel or in the supply of electricity to buildings.

The potential of nanoFlowcell® is not restricted to its application in automobiles. As part of a comprehensive, sustainable energy concept, nanoFlowcell® can deliver environmentally compatible electricity generation and storage for the supply of diverse consumers in aircraft, ships, railways or buildings in a modern, electricity-based society. As both an electricity generator and storage medium, nanoFlowcell® is scalable to any application.

Aircraft, for instance, currently already use a sizable number of on-board batteries. In the Boeing Dreamliner, these are made from roughly the same lithium-ion material that keeps mobile phones and laptops running. The material has an, albeit, rare but calamitous tendency of thermal collapse. This means the battery "explodes" - melting under enormous heat. The consequences are that two such events caused the entire Dreamliner fleet to be grounded for months in 2013. As a result of these events, the company is now seeking alternative battery concepts. This is where nanoFlowcell® could, in the near future, offer a significant benefit in operational safety with comparable energy density.

Energy-efficient and environmentally compatible drive concepts with nanoFlowcell® technology could soon be used on railways for the likes of acceleration or stabilisation of on-board electrics. All that passengers might possibly notice is that the quality of the on-board wifi is suddenly much improved.

It is also conceivable that hybrid drives for highly developed drive systems could make use of the temporary boost effect of an electric drive aided by nanoFlowcell®.

The redox flow cell has already established in the domestic environment as an energy storage medium. In several experimental systems, it is helping conserve solar power, e.g. for use during the night, or to smooth out peaks in the domestic electrical infrastructure. Alternatively, flow cells can also store electricity from wind or tidal power installations. Standalone energy logistics for a house or small residential area are feasible with a stationary nanoFlowcell®. Should there suddenly be insufficient solar or wind energy available, nanoFlowcell® can jump in and even out electricity peaks. It would thus be possible to disconnect completely from the public grid, as long as the scale of the facility is carefully planned and executed.

The further testing of nanoFlowcell® will examine these application options as well as progressing environmentally compatible electromobility.

In the novel Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the computer-calculated answer to the ultimate, non-mathematical question of "life, the universe and everything" is simply 42. Ultimately, however, the answer gets us nowhere, as nobody knows exactly what the actual question is.

The starting point for the research and development work carried out by nanoFlowcell AG was the "ultimate question", with which the development team lead by Nunzio La Vecchia sought an approach for a holistic energy concept that can sustainably change our environment for the better. Their simple answer is: nanoFlowcell®.

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