Technology

QUANT 48VOLT – new e-mobility thinking

From the outside, the QUANT 48VOLT looks like a solid sports car in the classic 2+2 GT format. Except that neither an eight- nor a 12-cylinder engine is grumbling and roaring. A state-of-the-art nanoFlowcell® electric drive does its job as quiet as a whisper and lets the two-tonne vehicle sprint from idle mode to 100 km/h in around 2.4 seconds. That is absolute sports car level.

But high-speed stunts at 300 km/h and drifts á la The Fast and the Furious are reserved for the racetrack. In real life, the QUANT 48VOLT rushes along Swiss country roads in a relaxed manner when doing its test drives, allowing only the fresh autumn leaves to whirl up and twist the heads of some passers-by at most.

Anyone who has the opportunity to take a look inside the car while the test drivers take a stop will quickly realize that the QUANT 48VOLT is not a conventional sports car. That it is fully electric can be assumed. What cannot be seen from the outside is that the QUANT 48VOLT is not powered by a battery that is otherwise obligatory in electric vehicles. Instead, it is state-of-the-art flow-cell energy technology that helps the sports sedan achieve top performance.

Originally, the QUANT was designed as a high-voltage electric car. Since 2018, it is powered - just like the QUANTiNO 48VOLT - by a nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive. This is the only one of its kind worldwide in a road-legal vehicle.

"We wanted to develop an electric drive that without compromises," says Nunzio La Vecchia, CEO of nanoFlowcell Holdings and developer of the nanoFlowcell®. "The energy of our nanoFlowcell® flow cell is fully compatible with the environment and poses no danger to health. Since our flow cell operates in the range up to 48 volts, it was only logical to develop a complementary electric drive that also operates at low voltages. The advantage is that the nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive, in contrast to a high-voltage electric drive, is not only intrinsically safe but also designed to be contact safe".

"The most complex automotive projects of the present day"

From the mouth of the chief developer of the QUANT 48VOLT, this sounds simple and logical. But the development of the nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive is one of the most complex automotive projects of the present day. Each step in the development of the nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive is an innovation in itself. Not a single component is off the shelf. Low voltage electric motors, nanoFlowcell® flow cell, and the bi-ION® electrolyte are globally unique technologies.

When developing the nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive, NFC engineers were not able to find modular components within the automotive supply industry. There is no adequate offer of low-voltage components. Therefore, each component for the nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low voltage drive had to be individually designed, tested, and manufactured in time-consuming development work. Even the power electronics for the electric motors could not be developed from a standard, as it is generally the case in the industry, but had to be programmed specifically for the nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage drive. Additionally, the construction size of the power electronics could be minimized so that it now fits into the motor housing. A hell of a job, manufacturers generally shy away from.

The development success proves the NFC engineers' quest for perfection right. The nanoFlowcell® 48VOLT low-voltage electric drive in the QUANT 48VOLT with its maximum system power of 560kW (four 140kW electric motors - one on each wheel) equal to its high-voltage counterparts, even in terms of performance. Or even better, because in the QUANT, the driver does not experience a sudden drop in power supply due to battery overheating or excessive power drain during acceleration or high-speed driving. The nanoFlowcell® in the QUANT 48VOLT works with six membranes and although its larger membrane surface area* and higher performance*, it works reliably and persistently under real-life conditions.

(*) Compared to the nanoFlowcell® in the QUANTiNO 48VOLT

The QUANT 48VOLT is the only electric vehicle in its class to have an all-wheel-drive with four independent motors. NFC‘s development engineers are the only ones so far to have succeeded in controlling four independent electric motors without compromising the functional safety of the vehicle. In both the original high-voltage version - the QUANT E - and the current low-voltage version QUANT 48VOLT.

"The QUANT 48VOLT was designed as a technology carrier to generate industry attention for our innovative e-technologies", La Vecchia explains. "With the QUANT, we also want to demonstrate that the nanoFlowcell® flow cell is scalable and controllable in its power output and can cover a wide range of applications without having to make any compromise".

"QUANT 48VOLT is an automobile innovation like no other"

In contrast to the one-membrane nanoFlowcell® in the QUANTiNO, the nanoFlowcell® in the QUANT works with six membranes. Other membrane configurations were also tested. But since the developers accomplished a larger membrane surface area without increasing its dimensions, the nanoFlowcell® flow cell can now discharge more bi-ION® electrolyte without increasing the number of stacks.

"In addition to the nanoFlowcell® - the on-board energy converter - there are various technical details that have been implemented with the QUANT – several world’s first in a road-legal vehicle: Low-voltage electric motors with multi-phase technology and a new type of stator cage without copper windings, capacitive touch panels under real wood, intermittent LED indicators, a 125 cm wide LCD as a virtual cockpit, and much more," explains La Vecchia. "Results of an intensive application research and the technical curiosity of our engineers."

He adds: "For us in R&D, however, there was no question of yet another super sports car - God knows the world has enough of those. We were more interested in how we could make renewable energies mobile, universally usable, and available at any time. With the nanoFlowcell®, this is possible now. Our nanoFlowcell® is a silent energy revolution: environmentally friendly, harmless to health, as well as non-political, and socially sustainable. If we would choose a conventional battery that is readily available on the market, the QUANT could go into production within a few months. In contrast, however, the nanoFlowcell® is not a conventional battery, but a state-of-the-art flow cell that is refueled with special bi-ION® electrolytes developed by us. The manufacturing process for those electrolytes is stable in the laboratory. However, we cannot produce sufficient electrolyte liquid in our laboratory to operate a large vehicle fleet. Therefore, we first had to develop industrial manufacturing processes to be able to produce the bi-ION® electrolyte in adequate volumes. Since there is nothing comparable on the market and only a few specialists have the knowledge for the required industrial fittings and -processes, many of these developments had to be done in-house. That costs us a lot of time."

The R&D company is going to set up its own bi-ION® electrolyte mass production to meet the initial demand for bi-ION® energy. That should help the nanoFlowcell® technology to get a quick start on the market as well as quicken the development of selected applications.