December 7th 2017 – NAWA Technologies, a pioneering company based in Aix-en-Provence that has developed the next generation of ultra-capacitor – the Ultra Fast Carbon Battery – has been honoured at the ninth annual French Excellence Awards in the field of Spatial Innovation.
Recognising the latest in scientific advancements, the awards took place in Paris last night at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie – the largest science museum in Europe. NAWA Technologies was marked out for its potential as a key supplier of innovative energy storage, black coatings and thermal management solutions for the space industry.
Presented by Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES – the French national space agency – the special guest for the evening was Thomas Pesquet, French aerospace engineer, pilot, and European Space Agency astronaut. Pesquet spent six months on board the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Proxima mission of the European Space Agency (ESA).
NAWA Technologies was one of only eight pioneering French companies singled out by the Awards for a special prize in Spatial Innovation, set up in collaboration with the CNES. NAWA’s energy storage system uses a unique combination of carbon nanotubes and a very special coating, creating the Ultra Fast Carbon Battery, an ultra capacitor that is five times more powerful than existing ultra capacitors. It can be charged and discharged in seconds for up to a million cycles.
Receiving the award on behalf of NAWA Technologies, Pascal Boulanger said: “I am honoured and humbled: L’Excellence Française (French Excellence) are highly prestigious awards that mark out the very best in the industry. For our team to be recognized for the potential that our energy storage technology brings to the space industry makes us all very proud indeed – and demonstrates the vision that we collectively share. It is also highly appreciated as this is the second time we have received this prize which make us unique in the list of previous winners.”
Ulrik Grape has recently joined NAWA Technologies as CEO, bringing over 20 years’ experience in start-up and lithium-ion battery companies. Previously EVP of solid-state lithium-ion battery company SEEO in California, Grape was also CEO of EnerDel, one of the early leaders in lithium-ion batteries. He has worked with major automotive OEMs including Volvo Cars, Think and VanHool and Compaq, Apple and Sagem in the portable electronics industry.
Ulrik Grape said: “This special prize is a great honour and testament to the hard work of a very skilled team who, in a relatively short time, has developed a genuinely pioneering energy storage solution. As someone who has recently moved to France from the US to join this talented organization, this is a unique and inspiring award which will no doubt propel our business. The field of space exploration is hugely important and exciting – and is another example of how our technology can be applied to a wide variety of sectors. Thank you to everyone at L’Excellence Française – NAWA Technologies has every intention of living up to your expectations.”
About NAWA Technologies
Target markets for NAWA include transportation (from automotive to maritime to personal mobility) and smart energy grids (helping to manage renewable energy flows), but NAWA is also developing NAWA Shell, a structural energy storage for composite materials, allowing cars and aircraft to have batteries directly embedded in their body or wings.
The space industry is a potential area of implementation for NAWA Technologies, its ultra capacitors replacing rocket stage separator activators (a project supported by ESA) or used as very stable source of power in new satellites, space stations or space exploration craft.
Other areas of potential development include using NAWA Technologies’ base material – the second blackest body in the world with 99.6% optical absorption rate –  in space telescopes to improve the resolution, another project currently supported by CNES. NAWA is also working on the development of cutting edge thermal interfaces which could guide heat towards distant cold points. This could potentially be used on space capsule heat shields.
Outside of the space industry and in the short term, NAWA Technologies’ new Ultra Fast Carbon Batteries offer two major solutions. As replacements for existing ultracapacitors, they enable faster charging of electricity. When combined with existing lithium-ion batteries – which boast greater energy density – or hydrogen fuel cells, they can provide more power and extend a product’s lifetime.
In the long term, the possibilities offered by NAWA Technologies’ Ultra Fast Carbon Battery could enable the company to develop hybrid ultracapacitor cells with energy densities approaching those of lithium-ion batteries but with much faster charging times.
NAWA Technologies has developed its own specialised nano-manufacturing process and has already entered low volume pilot manufacturing. The next step for NAWA Technologies and its partners is to fully industrialise this process.
NAWA Technologies COO and one of the original founders is Pascal Boulanger, who spent 20 years at the CEA (French Atomic and Alternative Energies Organisation), working across a variety of fields including nuclear energy, solar photovoltaics and smart grids. In 2008, he joined one of the first R&D teams in Europe working on new nanocarbon structures: carbon nanotubes and graphene.
Within two years the team of researchers had shown that nanomaterials could be produced on a large scale and at a competitive cost. And in 2013 NAWA Technologies was born, spun off from the CEA, creating 25 jobs in Rousset, in the south of France.
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Sam Hardy
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