Will Lithium-Ion Batteries Lose The Race?

shutterstock_182665796Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink’ sayeth the ancient mariner.  The ocean might be contaminated, the fish still swallow the bait, drought might be spreading across the planet, yet who would have thought that it would take a vehicle to say ‘I can drink because man can think’.

Scam artists have tried running vehicles on seawater to no avail. But now what might have been merely a hypothesis is slowly turning into a reality.

Automakers have long considered the hydrogen fuel cell as an alternative to the gasoline engine.  Fuel cell technology is essentially water splitting in reverse. A fuel cell combines stored hydrogen gas with oxygen from the air to produce electricity, which powers the car. The only byproduct is water.

The Quant e-Sportlimousine was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March and six months later will be seen speeding through the streets of Europe since according to an article published in the Belfast Telegraph earlier this month, the “QUANT e-Sportlimousine electric sports car concept from NanoFlowcell could run on sea water and has been approved for public roads”.

How does it run?  It works in a similar way to a hydrogen fuel cell, however, the liquid used for storing energy is saltwater. There are four motors powered by electricity generated from a process of filtering ionic liquid, or saltwater. The car carries the electrolyte fluids in two adjacent 200-litre tanks separated by a membrane. The fluids in each tank are slightly different, and it’s the reaction between them when they cross the membrane that creates electricity.

The electric vehicle can go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in less than a breath, at 2.8 seconds, reach a projected top speed of 217 mph, and has a range of 370 miles for one charge, according to its manufacturer, Liechtenstein-based NanoFlowCell AG.

Inside is a full-length interactive dash, with wood-theme features and an Android-based entertainment system. Although no price or sale date has yet been revealed, some experts suggest it could cost more than $1.7 million.

The technology offers five times the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries of the same weight.
‘We’ve got major plans, and not just within the automobile industry,’ says NanoFlowcell AG Chairman of the Board Professor Jens-Peter Ellermann. ‘The potential of the NanoFlowcell is much greater, especially in terms of domestic energy supplies as well as in maritime, rail and aviation technology.

Last month the Stanford news reported that Stanford University Professor Hongjie Dai had developed an emissions-free electrolytic device that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen at room temperature. Scientists at Stanford University have developed a low-cost, emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis.  The battery sends an electric current through two electrodes that split liquid water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in the Stanford device are made of inexpensive and abundant nickel and iron.

“Using nickel and iron, which are cheap materials, we were able to make the electrocatalysts active enough to split water at room temperature with a single 1.5-volt battery,” said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. “This is the first time anyone has used non-precious metal catalysts to split water at a voltage that low. It’s quite remarkable, because normally you need expensive metals, like platinum or iridium, to achieve that voltage.”

‘But tell me, tell me! speak again,
Thy soft response renewing—
What makes that ship drive on so fast?
What is the ocean doing?’ sayeth the ancient mariner.

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