Liechtenstein Little known electric carmaker nanoFlowcell has had industry BS detectors working overtime since it first claimed three years ago to have a concept vehicle that runs on salt water, and now it's about to a reveal a new 300km/h supercar with the same questionable fuel source.
Based in this tiny but rich country, nanoFlowcell says it has developed a complex way of making electricity from a chemical reaction between two "nanofluids". If you're a fan of cryptic techno-speak and convoluted jargon, be sure to visit the company's website. If not, we'll simplify or at least try to.
Basically there are two fuel tanks – one is filled with positively-charged ionic fluid (salt water) and the other negatively-charged ionic fluid. These two electrolytes then exchange current through a thin membrane (and releases nothing but "water dust"), to produce electricity which runs through a buffer battery and is then used to power electric motors. This company calls the technology "flow cell". Nasa called it REDOX (reduction-oxidation) when it patented the concept in the mid-1970s.
In the new Quant supercar which nanoFlowcell plans to unveil at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the energy produced in the process is similar to that of more traditional hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but the power is pumped to the electric motors at each wheel through a 48 volt pipeline. This relatively low voltage (a Tesla works at up to 600 volts v) is safer for mechanics to work on, says the company.
At each wheel there's a 140kW motor so total output is a muscular 560kW, and performance figures are claimed at 2.4 seconds for the 0-100km/h dash with a (governed) top speed of 300km/h. On top of that is a quoted range of 1000km – far further than most electric vehicles available today.
Impressive numbers, right? Well here's the problem: NanoFlowcell has never actually proven this outrageously efficient technology works. Sure, there are Youtube videos of previous Quant models kicking around, but no third party testing has ever been done and claimed performance contradicts what known flow cell research has indicated.
And to thicken the plot, the man behind the company, Nunzio La Veccia, has been accused of buying his PhD in engineering. The wealthy Swiss musician was also accused of fraud when he invented a revolutionary solar panel with much higher efficiency ratings than any existing product, and when the case went to court he said the evidence was destroyed for security reasons.
We're all for advancements in technology, so nanoFlowcell, if your salt water-powered wonder car actually works, please prove it. Better yet, invite us to Liechtenstein for a test drive.