When Formula E began, the concept was to keep costs low by strictly regulating every aspect of the race cars. Same chassis, same transmission, same motor, same battery control system, same brakes, and same tires. The idea worked brilliantly. Formula E is the fastest growing auto racing series in the world with a waiting list of world cites anxious to get on the calendar.
But Formula E is slowly relaxing the rules to permit the teams to innovate and what could be more innovative than using a flow battery when everyone else is using a lithium ion battery pack? That’s what Swiss company nanoFlowcell wants to do. It is in negotiations with Formula E and the FIA that would allow it to field a team powered by its proprietary 48 volt flow battery.
NanoFlowcell would use a scaled down version of the powertrain in its QUANT. That system uses a 760 horsepower motor that draws from a six membrane flow cell with a capacity of 300 kWh. It can scoot to 100 kph in 2.4 seconds and has a top speed of 186 mph. Claimed range is more than 600 miles. For the 2018/2019 season, Formula E will limit battery capacity to 54 kWh and motor output to 250 kW.
“We have almost perfected the nanoFlowcell 48 volt electric drive and are confident that our flow-cell system is superior to the lithium-ion battery technology currently used in electric vehicles, and is capable of leading the premium motorsport class for electric sports cars,” says Nunzio La Vecchia, developer of the nanoFlowcell. “Racing success in Formula E — just like our success in flow cell research — is hard fought, but we’re showing that we’re not shying away from the competition.”
The flow cell battery uses a non-toxic, non-flammable liquid electrolyte called Bi-ION that is environmentally friendly. La Vecchia claims it can be made for less than 10 cents per liter and distributed using existing fuel distribution infrastructure. Refueling times are comparable to filling a tank with gasoline.
Electric cars “take too long to charge, have too little range, and there are too few charging stations,” La Vecchia says. “The refueling infrastructure for [electrolytes] is considerably easier, faster and more cost effective to build. It adds up to just a fraction of the infrastructure costs of current electric mobility scenarios.”
Participating in Formula E would be the perfect way for nanoFlowcell to get its innovative technology before the public and maybe put a dent in the dominance of the lithium ion battery as the power source of choice of electric cars.
Source: Electric Cars Report