Digitise and dematerialise: Divergent CEO Kevin Czinger on supplying automotive structures to the world's biggest brands
The manufacture of lithium-ion phosphate battery cells at Coda’s facility in China relies heavily on coal-fired power. And because of that, ‘well over’ 200 kilogrammes (kg) of Co2 per kilowatt hour (kWh) is being produced in battery manufacture. At this time, kg of Co2 per kWh is the most important metric on Czinger’s mind and the cogs whirring in his head only intensify as he does the workings out to reveal that these batteries and EVs aren’t having enough impact.
Post Coda, Czinger educated himself on lifecycle assessments, figuring only a holistic approach would return the energy emission reduction that is required in an era of climate emergency. He also came to realise that the way automotive structures are manufactured, and the costs required to do so, need optimising – particularly as EVs, hybrid cars and internal combustion engine vehicles (and all the tooling and fixturing to come with them) continue to emerge. “The amortisation period, the competition, the driving down of values, you’re looking and saying, ‘this is environmentally and economically broken,’” Czinger says.
Czinger and his team developed the Divergent Adaptive Production System (DAPS) to ‘digitise and dematerialise’ automotive production and provide the technical competency for the company, in time, to become a Tier One supplier to the automotive industry. What Divergent is willing to talk about, however, is how its DAPS workflow works. Its engineers start by understanding the static stiffness targets of a structure, then the typical load cases it will be exposed to, then what its boundary conditions are, then its crash requirements, durability requirements and dynamic stiffness response requirements. This information is the input for the Divergent design algorithm, which is where the company enters the concept phase. Here, Divergent gives the OEM ‘optionality’ to, for example, reduce stiffness in a certain area of the structure to reduce mass. After the concept phase comes the detailed design phase, and after that, it’s time to print the part.