Automotive Engineering - April 2021 - 12

TECHNOLOGY REPORT

onto vehicle bodies. The result is  " a high
level of detail, "  according to Reger. 
 The droplets can be applied in sizes
ranging from 20 to 50µm at a rate of over
1,000 droplets per second. This enables
more precise control of paint film thickness and also of overlapping, to achieve
required ultra-sharp definition of paint
edges whilst eliminating wasted material. Because 100% of the paint is applied
to the bodywork surface, the typical 20%
overspray associated with typical electrostatic painting is said to be avoided. 
 

ELECTRIFICATION 

Aiming for the 5-minute EV recharge 
NAWA regards its
nanostructured
electrode as heralding
an EV battery step
change.

Reger explained that PixelPaint permits a
second color or design to be applied
within an existing paint line without extending cycle times or adding manpower.
It also avoids installation of a special line
or supplementary paint shop, supporting
reductions in both capital and operating
costs. Environmental performance is also
improved as no paint is lost to drainage. 
 PixelPaint can be used with ABB's IRB
5500 painting robot or with a high-precision handling robot, more commonly used
for seam sealing. ABB's software package
includes a user-friendly programming tool
called RobotStudio to enable offline programming for easy set-up and testing. 
  " Using PixelPaint enables auto manufacturers to produce multiple, complex
designs very quickly, meeting consumer
tastes for individuality without incurring
extended production time and costs, "
Reger said.  " With a customized paint job,
cycle times are reduced by 50 percent
through the design being executable in a
single pass. When this is combined with
the other benefits such as improved utilization of manual workers, we envisage very
significant improvements in productivity. "  
 ABB also has introduced a compact
interior paint station, which combines 12
robots to offer a space-saving alternative
to traditional robotic interior systems. It is
claimed to reduce the footprint of current
paint booths by up to 33%. The system
can be integrated with other door, hood
and trunk opening robots with the company's new IRB 5500-27 7-axis robot. An
enhanced working angle with improved
reach reduces robot population.
Stuart Birch

12 April 2021

A French nanomaterials company has developed a technology that it claims can
significantly increase the storage efficiency of electric vehicle batteries. NAWA
Technologies' Ultra-Fast Carbon Electrode
(UFCE) is a key to bringing EV batterycharging time into parity with gasolinerefueling time, while improving battery
life-cycle performance by a factor of up to
five, according to company founder and
CTO, Pascal Boulanger. 
 In an interview with Automotive
Engineering, Pascal Boulanger said the
UFCE technology can help deliver 1,000km (620-mi) operating range for massmarket EVs, with a time of five minutes for
an 80% charge. " The uniqueness of the
technology is its 3D structure and use of
vertically aligned carbon nanotubes
[VACNT], " he noted. Each nanotube
is formed from a graphene sheet that is
rolled in a cylindrical shape. The tubes
have " the same aspect ratio [between
diameter and length]as a kilometer-long
piece of spaghetti, with the electrode being made of a hundred trillion of these
tubes! "  The UFCE technology is compatible with any advanced battery-cell chemistry, he said.  
 

'Highest' ionic conductivity 

A major limitation of incumbent lithiumbased battery performance is the design and material used for the electrode, Boulanger explained. Existing
powder electrodes have low electrical
and thermal conductivity, along with
poor mechanical behavior when dis-

charged and recharged, and can suffer
from safety and life-cycle issues. He
said the micro-structures in today's
electrode material make it difficult for
ions to move around, resulting in low
ionic conductivity. The UFCE's patented
VACNT design, he claims, combines the
" highest " ionic conductivity, thanks
to its 3D fully accessible nanostructure,
with continuous conductors (the nanotubes) that exhibit optimum electrical
and thermal conductivity. These characteristics eliminate thermal runaway issues, Boulanger said. 
 Mechanically, the VACNT serves as a
cage, reducing volume expansion of the
electrode and allowing it to operate
under less " stress " than powder electrodes: " Put simply, this means the distance an ion needs to move is just a few
nanometers through the cell material,
instead of micrometers with a plain
electrode. " This " radically "  boosts the
battery's ability to deliver fast charge
and discharge rates, he said. NAWA
previously demonstrated this in its
next-generation ultracapacitors (known
as the Ultra-Fast Carbon Battery),
claimed to have " the lowest electrical
serial resistance on the market. "  
 Applying NAWA's technologies to lithium-based cells would improve battery
power by a factor of 10 and energy storage by a factor of up to three, Boulanger
stated, with battery life cycle enhanced
by up to five - and charging time reduced to minutes instead of hours.
" Normally, for a given technology - and
AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING

BOTH IMAGES: NAWA

Cost savings 



Automotive Engineering - April 2021

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