Swiss R&D centre planned for flow cell battery research

A research and development centre for flow cell technology is to be constructed in Tenero in the Ticino region of Switzerland.

The centre, named Quant City, is to be constructed for technology company nanoFlowcell at the beginning of 2016 with an expected completion date in 2018. It will create up to 200 new jobs for engineers, researchers and lawyers.

Flow cell technology uses two ionic fluids to generate electricity by means of a chemical process and could replace traditional batteries in the future.

However, it has advantages over other types of battery such as lithium-ion in that it allows for a more flexible layout due to the separation of the power and energy components and typically has a longer life cycle life. The energy storage medium is also composed of easy-to-acquire saltwater.

NanoFlowcell believes research conducted at the centre will widen the uses for the technology in industrial and consumer applications as well as further developments in the automotive sector which it is already used in.

It said the technology has the potential to be used in industries as diverse as shipping, aerospace and rail traffic, and the researchers and developers at Quant City will focus on cost-effective and ecologically worthwhile applications.

In July last year the company’s flow cell battery-powered sports car was cleared for use on public roads in Germany. The car was designed to be competitive with Tesla’s luxury electric vehicle, the Model S, with a range of 600km and a top speed exceeding 350 km/h.

Chief technical officer at nanoFlowcell Nunzio La Vecchia said: "With the nanoFlowcell, we have the potential to create the most innovative, sustainable and enduring energy technologies in the world.

“It is a technology that has many applications and that we at Quant City will continue to develop and intend to make market-ready. In order to focus on maintaining our current research edge, Quant City will give us an infrastructure with the technical and scientific requirements necessary for our success."

Virtual reality will be at the core of the research work carried out. 3D animations and simulation software will be used to provide the researchers with an opportunity to create representations of their findings and assess them in real time.

This will also allow for easy trialling of the technology in a variety of applications that would otherwise be difficult and costly to produce.

In order to pursue a combination of research and development at this location, the company is planning to relocate its existing "nanoFlowcell DigiLab" from Zürich to Tenero.

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