France’s Nawa Technologies has opened a branch office in the United States and brought its fast, affordable vertical arrangement of carbon nanotubes (VACNT) manufacturing processes to new applications: making carbon fiber composites stronger,media new Atlas reported.
Nawa has previously announced that it is working on a new electrode design that radically improves the chemical properties of existing and future batteries and will be the world’s fastest electrode: it provides up to 3x energy density, 10x power density, faster charging speed and up to 5x battery life.
Nawa’s strength comes from its secret: the ultra-fast, one-step nanotube growth process. Pascal Boulanger, the company’s chief executive, said: “This is the same as anti-reflective coated glass and photovoltaic coating processes. It’s already very cheap. These nanotubes are extremely strong and highly conductive and have obvious advantages in the electronics field, but Nava is now also considering using them to advance the development of materials.
Nawa has acquired N12 Technologies, a Massachusetts-based company. Since its inception in 2012, N12 Technologies has raised nearly $33 million, according to Crunchbase, with the goal of usingVACNT technology to make carbon composites lighter and stronger. N12 is a two-step process authorized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to grow nanotubes, and Nawa will continue this relationship, describing the two manufacturing methods as “complementary.”
Here’s how NavaStitch (formerly known as NanoStitch) works. Typically, when making things from carbon fiber composites, you buy pieces of carbon fiber-reinforced resins, lay them one by one on top of each other, bond them together with epoxy resin, and alternate with each layer of carbon fiber to adjust the final piece to meet the load it needs to bear.
According to N12 and now Nawa, the glue between layers can be a weak point that deteriorates as parts bend. This can result in layering or simply breaking the strength of the part. As a result, Nawastitch uses an ultra-strong VACNT array to reinforce the epoxy layer, and as a result, Nawa says the shear strength is increased 100 times, the impact resistance is 10 times higher, layering is not possible, and high-speed shocks reduce internal damage by 50 percent. Composite components can be reinforced in this way, and the conventional manufacturing process does not require substantial changes.
Nawa says it has also been working on its own multifunction composite, NawaShell, which enhances the mechanical strength of carbon composites and allows embedded carbon nanotubes to store electricity, making it possible to create, for example, solar roof panels that store energy directly on the roof itself.
It’s unclear how successful the N12 has been in bringing its high-strength composite treatments to market, but anything that makes carbon fiber components lighter and stronger will have a chance as long as the price is right. Nawa is clearly excited about opening a new U.S. base in Dayton, Ohio. The company has established research partnerships and licensing agreements with the Dayton University Institute.
Pascal Boulanger, founder, chairman and chief technology officer of Nawa, said: “The establishment of Nawa USA is a very exciting and natural strategic step. We are aware of N12 Technologies’ outstanding work over the years and I am pleased to have the opportunity to acquire its activities, further develop technology and incorporate it into our portfolio. This further strengthens Nava Technologies’ position as a leading expert in VACNT and the largest continuous industrial-grade VACNT manufacturer. Not only do we have the rights and know-how of two of the most efficient and complementary VACNT patented growth processes, strong academic support from both sides of the Atlantic, but we also have two major applications that will makeVACNT available in the global market: ultra-strong composites and energy storage. “
Nawa immediately began prototyping and is expected to begin mass production in 2021.