PlasmaBound wins competition to collaborate with Hyundai and Kia

28 Nov 2022

From left: Alan Barry, Dr James Nicholas Barry and Xavier Montibert. Image: Nick Bradshaw

UCD spin-out PlasmaBound has developed tech that aims to take the use of recyclable composite materials into the mainstream.

Irish deep-tech company PlasmaBound is one of five start-ups from around the world that have won a challenge to collaborate with Hyundai and Kia.

Set up by Dutch venture capital firm Unknown Group, the Accelerate the Future Challenge is a competition meant to identify innovative start-ups that can help Hyundai and Kia reach their innovation goals through collaborations.

Founded in 2017 by Dr James Nicholas Barry, Alan Barry and Xavier Montibert, University College Dublin spin-out PlasmaBound has developed tech that aims to take the use of recyclable composite materials into the mainstream.

The NovaUCD-based start-up specialises in controlled polymer ablation (CPA) tech, which could speed up the manufacture of renewable lightweight materials with increased reliability. These can be used in everything from vehicles and devices to physical structures, reducing carbon output and waste.

Barry, who is the CEO of PlasmaBound, said that his start-up was selected by Hyundai and Kia for its potential in the automotive industry “after a thorough process involving initially more than 1,000 companies worldwide”.

“The future proof of concept with the R&D team in Seoul demonstrates that PlasmaBound’s unique CPA technology brings automation, sustainability and high reliability with considerable process improvements,” he said.

“PlasmaBound will now engage with the Hyundai-Kia teams and validate its surface preparation of composites before structural bonding technology.”

A previous Start-up of the Week, PlasmaBound’s technology is based on plasma, a state of matter with a significant portion of charged particles. In the simplest terms, plasma bonding increases the ‘stickiness’ of a surface by upping its force of attraction on a molecular level.

Barry told earlier this year that in the case of CPA, a surface made of fibre-reinforced plastic is stripped of “a controlled depth of polymer”, revealing both an undamaged “pristine polymer” and reinforcing fibres. This is “an ideal tactile surface for adhesive bonding”.

CPA supports the bonding of dissimilar materials, enabling the adoption of ultra-lightweight composites in a cost-effective way. PlasmaBound, which recently raised €2.35m, is targeting its tech at high-growth multibillion-dollar markets including the aerospace, consumer electronics sectors and automotive sectors.

“This year, Hyundai and Kia business units were able to engage with innovative start-ups within the smart factory, robotics, advanced R&D solution and smart mobility solution domains,” said Hyundai Motor Group senior open innovation manager Kwangmo Moon.

“We are proud to announce the finalists of this year and all the teams are looking forward to collaborating even more actively by working on the proof of concept projects.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic