NAWA America: Multifunctional, ultra-strong composites from NAWA Technologies

Source: press release, 19 November 2020

NAWAStitch-reinforced carbon fibre composites have shear strength increased by a factor of 100 and shock resistance by a factor of 10
NAWAStitch-reinforced carbon fibre composites have shear strength increased by a factor of 100 and shock resistance by a factor of 10 (illustration: NAWA Technologies)

NAWA Technologies, a pioneer of next-generation energy storage systems has announced NAWA America – a new US-based company focused on industrialising advanced composite materials.

Based in Dayton, Ohio, NAWA America will bring multifunctional ultra-strong composites to market; game-changing materials based on unique, proprietary technology, aimed at sectors including automotive, aerospace, renewable energy, space, defence, sporting equipment as well as consumer and luxury goods.

NAWA America has been created by the acquisition of the assets of the US leader in VACNT for composite applications, N12 Technologies. N12 began developing its own two-step patented VACNT growth process in 2014 and became experts in VACNT-enhanced composite materials. Over a similar period, NAWA Technologies has developed its own single-step VACNT growth process, applying the unique properties of VACNT to its high power and high energy ultracapacitors, but also recently as one of the fastest electrodes for lithium batteries and hybrid systems, as debuted by its NAWA Racer.

NAWA America’s objective will be to significantly widen the range of applications of multifunctional composites, engineering truly next-gen materials and substantially scaling manufacture. Its immediate focus will be on a bringing a new materials concept, NAWAStitch, to mass market.

Comprising a thin film containing trillions of VACNT arranged perpendicular to the carbon fiber layers, NAWAStitch acts as “nano-velcro”, reinforcing the weakest part of a composite: the interface between the layers. Eliminating the probability that a crack will occur in the interface, the concept also greatly improves strike damage resistance.

Carbon fiber composites with NAWAStitch have their shear strength increased by a factor of 100 and shock resistance by a factor of 10.

What’s more, a high-speed impact results in 50% less interior damage versus a conventional carbon composite. Together, this makes NAWAStitch the optimum way to reinforce the mechanical properties of carbon fibre composites.

As well as continuing all of N12 Technologies’ activities in this field, with existing and new customers, NAWA America has also established a research collaboration and license agreement with the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), through the Multifunctional Structures and Materials Group of Dr Paul Kladitis – ranked number one in the U.S. in materials research. It has also signed a field exclusive license agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), through Prof Brian Wardle’s (NECSTLAB) research group, well known in the fields of composites and nanotubes.

Synergies already exist with NAWA Technologies. At its HQ in France, it has independently created a multifunctional composite materials concept: NAWAShell. NAWAShell is an integrated structural hybrid battery, incorporating VACNT to give two complimentary characteristics: enhanced mechanical strength and electrical energy storage within the composite structure’s core. Potential use cases include a solar roof panel in a car that could generate energy stored within the roof, and provide a circular green solution, with almost no additional mass to the vehicle structure.

In future, NAWA Technologies sees enormous potential in combining NAWAStitch and NAWAShell to create ultra-strong, multifunctional lightweight materials that can also store energy, whether in a vehicle, airplane, building or mobile device.

Pascal Boulanger, Founder of NAWA Technologies, Chairman of the Board and CTO says, “The creation of NAWA America is a very exciting and natural strategic step. We have been aware of N12 Technologies’ exceptional work for many years; I am delighted the opportunity has arisen to acquire its activities, develop the technology further and bring it within our portfolio.”

“This move further cements NAWA Technologies as THE leading specialist in VACNT – and the largest manufacturer of continuous industrial scaled VACNT. Not only do we possess the rights and know-how for the two most efficient and complementary patented VACNT growth processes, strong academic support from both sides of the Atlantic, but also the expertise to bring two major applications of VACNT to a global market: ultra-strong composites and energy storage,” Boulanger continues.

He adds, “We expect both sectors to grow exponentially over the coming decade. Innovations such as these will have a significant impact on the global search for a fully sustainable world – and also align with NAWA Technologies’ ethos to provide clean, sustainable energy solutions.”

Ulrik Grape, CEO of NAWA Technologies says, “This is a major milestone for NAWA Technologies. The creation of NAWA America means NAWA Technologies now covers virtually 100% of worldwide VACNT uses, a global addressable market currently worth USD 140 billion, expected to grow to USD 250 billion in 2025, across energy storage and composites. The objective for NAWA America is simple: combine the expertise that exists within the Dayton operation with that of NAWA Technologies, harnessing the huge potential of our relationships and agreements with the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in addition to our relationship already existing with CEA.”

“This will allow us to finalise development of NAWAStitch and ramp-up to volume production in 2021. In the short term, our first markets will be sporting equipment, consumer products and luxury goods, while our longer-term focus is automotive and aerospace. Combined with our home facility in France, NAWA Technologies will offer a wider portfolio of solutions to our customers, combining lighter, stronger and smarter composites and energy storage,” Grape adds.