German Automaker Develops First Salt Water-Powered Car – Truth! & Misleading!
Summary of eRumor:
A German automaker has developed the world’s first salt water-powered car that has been approved for travel on European roads.
There’s some truth to this claim, but it’s also misleading.
A German manufacturer has developed a battery system for electric cars that uses ionic salt water as a storage medium — but the car is still powered by electricity, not salt water.
The company, nanoFlowcell, displayed the technology at the Geneva Motor Show in July of 2014 in a prototype car called the Quant e-Sportlimousine. The company describes the battery technology as a “beacon of hope” because it’s a simple and effective storage medium for electrical energy:
“Flow cells are chemical batteries that combine aspects of an electrochemical accumulator cell with those of a fuel cell. Liquid electrolytes circulate through two separate cells in which a ‘cold burning’ takes place, during which oxidation and reduction processes happen in parallel and thereby produce electrical power for the drive train.
The flow cell battery’s greatest advantage lies in its range: It can drive a vehicle 20-times further than a conventional lead-acid battery and 5-times further than the lithium-ion technology that powers most of today’s electric cars. Flow cell batteries are also durable. Furthermore, recharging them does not take hours and hours. All that is required to recharge them is to exchange spent electrolytes (which can be recharged outside the vehicle) for new, charged fluid.”
Wired Magazine explains that flow cell batteries like this are typically comprised of two kinds of metallic salts dissolved in liquids inside the battery that are separated by a membrane:
“Ion exchange takes place between the membrane, although the liquids themselves do not mix. When the battery is charged, electrical energy causes a chemical reduction reaction in one of the liquids and an oxidation reaction in the other. When the battery is in use, the reverse reaction takes place. nanoFlowcell has made this process very efficient so that the batteries can be small and the prototype car has a range of up to 600 kilometers (372 miles) — at least according to the company.”
Excitement about the salt water-powered car took flight in January of 2015 when an article published by the website Aether Force appeared in many forwarded emails. The article, which appears under the headline, “Electric Car Powered by Salt Water: 920 hp, 373 miles/tank,” begins:
“It’s finally here folks and it is LEGIT.
Tesla eat your heart out, the Germans have created an electrical car powered by salt water. It has four electric engines and is FAST with some pretty sweet fuel economy for a sports car. Leave the Bugatti at home and stop by the beach to refuel.
The recent announcement that the Quant e-Sportlimousine, which is a salt water powered car, has been certified for use on European roads is a big sign that the Oil Cartels are losing the energy war.”
While the article isn’t incorrect, it seems to misled readers on two fronts. First, it said that the car is “salt water powered” when, in reality, it’s powered by electricity that is stored in an ionic salt-water battery. The term “salt water-powered car” conjures images of pulling up to a filling station and pumping the car’s gas tank full of salt water.
The article’s second misleading claim is that the battery’s approval for use on European roads means that it will likely disrupt global energy markets in the near future. The technology is still in the concept phase and is likely years away from mass production, if it reaches that point at all. Motor Authority reports:
“The plan now is to get four working prototypes built so that real-world testing can begin. (Company founder Nunzio La Vecchia) hopes to eventually have a small production run of cars powered by his nanoFlowcell technology.”
Still, the technology could hold great promise. nanoFlowcell announced in December of 2014 that it would again showcase the technology at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.