NanoFlowcell Says Refuel, Don’t Recharge

Nunzio La Vecchia, the chief technology officer of NanoFlowcell and inventor of NanoFlowcell technology for energy storage, claims plugging in electric cars to recharge them is a “dead end.” Electric cars “take too long to charge, have too little range, and there are too few charging stations,” he says in a blog post entitled Full Speed Ahead Up A Dead End.

NanoFlowcell Quantino

La Vecchia focuses mostly on the dismal state of public charging infrastructure. It may be getting better but La Vecchia thinks it will be a long time before it is capable of meeting the needs of millions of electric car drivers. He goes on to suggest that the current model of battery-electric vehicles and public and private charging stations is “close to collapse.”

Noting that sales of battery electric cars worldwide have been rather disappointing so far, La Vecchia says, “Nobody wants to drive these vehicles,” because a comprehensive global network of public charging stations “supported by billions in grants (tax money)” doesn’t yet exist.

What to do? That’s simple. Forget about lithium ion batteries and start using flow cells that can be refilled/recharged in a matter of minutes using conventional pump technology. Not surprisingly, NanoFlowcell intends to build and market cars that use flow cells sometime in the foreseeable future. NanoFlowcell will a “shoebox-sized” flow cell with two tanks containing positive and negative liquid electrolytes. They will react inside the flow cell to produce electricity that powers electric motors to turn the wheels, just as in a battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell car.

In all, the tanks will hold about 40 gallons of liquid. Using my old Irish grandmother’s formula of “A pint a pound the world around,” that translates to about 320 lbs when the tanks are full. Some electric car batteries weigh three times as much or more and can take an hour or more to recharge — if you can find a charger.

The idea would require a network of fueling stations, but the company suggests existing gas and diesel stations could be easily retrofitted. One significant advantage is that the bismuth ion electrolytes are not combustible. They can even be made onsite, eliminating the need for tanker trucks.

“The refueling infrastructure for [the electrolytes] is considerably easier, faster and more cost effective to build,” the article summarizes. “It adds up to just a fraction of the infrastructure costs of current electric mobility scenarios.”

NanoFlowcell has presented some concept cars at various auto shows and they are tasty little crumpets indeed. Whether any of them ever actually get built remains to be seen.

Source: Green Car Reports   Photo credit: NanoFlowcell


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.