Not just an electric car, but one that runs on salt water

Battery technology has been developed by a German company that allows electric car batteries to be charged via salt water. 

David Gray/REUTERS
A sail boat and cargo ship are seen on the horizon as a man paddles onto a wave on a stand-up board in the Pacific Ocean at Sydney's Cronulla Beach, Australia, July 30, 2015.

It’s not too hard to imagine a future where all cars are electric, but how about a future in which electric cars are powered by salt water?

At the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, German company Quant unveiled its e-Sportlimousine concept car. In March of this year, the company launched the second version, dubbed Quant F.

Sleek design makes the car competitive with sports cars and electric cars alike. But beyond aesthetics, Quant’s car also proves its worth in performance. The e-Sportlimousine clocks a top speed of 217 mph, on par with a McLaren P1, and delivers an average projected range of 310 miles, higher than that of Tesla Model S’s estimated 260-mile range.

But the battery technology, nanoFlowcell, is what really makes Quant stand out. “The technology offers five times the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries of the same weight,” reported the Daily Mail.

To be technically correct, salt water is used as a storage medium rather than a fuel. With four electric motors and two 50-gallon water storage tanks, the car runs by electrically charging ionic liquid – salt water – to store energy. This improves efficiency and allows for a higher range than conventional electric car batteries, reports Discovery.

Saltwater “passes through a membrane in between the two tanks, creating an electric charge. This electricity is then stored and distributed by super capacitors. The four electric motors in the car are fed electricity which makes it run,” explains Collective Evolution, an alternative media outlet that encourages “conscious change.”

This technology isn’t just limited to automobiles though.

“We’ve got major plans...the potential of the NanoFlowcell is much greater, especially in terms of domestic energy supplies as well as in maritime, rail, and aviation technology,” NanoFlowcell AG Chairman of the Board Professor Jens-Peter Ellermann told GizMag. “The NanoFlowcell offers a wide range of applications as a sustainable, low cost, and environmentally-friendly source of energy."

Quant cars were approved for testing on public roads last September, and the company plans to begin mass production, though no specific release dates are listed.

But critics were quick to point out a few wrinkles, including refueling and sustainability.

“Flow cell vehicles only become attractive when there’s a robust and existing refueling infrastructure. At the moment, that’s not even being discussed,” wrote Transport Evolved.

Steven Novella, writer for The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, remarked, “While the nanoflowcell is an interesting approach, and we may see cars with this type of battery in production in the future, this technology is not a solution to our energy needs. The salt water electrolyte fluids are not fuel. They are not a source of energy. They are simply an energy storage medium, just like any battery. And that energy has to come from somewhere.”

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