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From spray painting to clean tech

last updated 25 May 2017

Auto body shop Graffiti Garage is betting big on a Singapore-made high-tech car exhaust cleaning system.

20170524 graffiti

Mr Tan Jianli was so impressed by Neutrinos Engineering's hydrogen gas solution, Neuto Therapy, that he asked to have sole distributorship of it in Singapore. (Image credit: Tan Jianli)

By Joy Fang

IMpact checks out one of the pre-approved solutions by IMDA under the SMEs Go Digital programme.

A few years ago, when his car ran into some problems due to excess carbon in the engine, the director of auto body shop Graffiti Garage Tan Jianli had to leave the vehicle with his mechanic for five days to get it cleaned. On top of that, Jianli had to fork out some $2,000 for the effort.

So when Singapore company Neutrinos Engineering visited his workshop early last year and gave a demonstration on its Neuto Therapy solution, he was instantly sold. In fact, the 29-year-old was so intrigued by the technology that he asked to have sole distributorship so he could sell it to other auto shops.

Neutrinos’ solution is unique because it uses gas emission diagnostics to analyse a vehicle’s engine conditions and uses hydrogen gas to remove carbon buildup in cars down to the tiniest micro-molecular levels. The dry cleaning system is able to reach and scrub cleanly in otherwise hard-to-reach spots, such as air manifolds, piston rings, valves, and spark plugs.

Neuto is a predictive technology that provides customised treatment according to each car’s needs. First, it diagnoses a car’s health by assessing the exhaust gas, before calibrating and prescribing the right amount of hydrogen gas suitable for the car. It will then continuously monitor the car’s reaction to the therapy within a closed-loop feedback system and automatically adjust the required amount of dry hydrogen gas.

The data collected during the treatment process will automatically be registered onto the cloud system that will prompt alerts for subsequent vehicle servicing. Long waiting times are gone as well, as the whole process only takes around 45 minutes.

Jianli said he has tried other carbon cleaning systems before, but found the technology lacking. “We found (the) technology very interesting. There’s a difference before and after the therapy, such as a gain in power and lower emission,” he said.

He received approval to sell the Neuto machine to others in the industry in December last year. With the machine, garages charge customers $138 per session, an almost ten-fold reduction in price for consumers than what traditional methods cost, which range from $1,000 to more than $2,000, depending on the parts changed and man-hours taken.

Spreading the word

Still, it is a challenge to convince his fellow workshop owners on Neuto’s benefits. “Because this is a new technology, and most automotive owners are running old-school garages, they tend not to be accepting towards such high technology,” he explained.

While he got his first sale within three days of approval, it was an uphill climb from there. “Some automotive owners are more educated and know the effects of chemistry and how hydrogen works with carbon, so they are more easily convinced. Others are tougher,” he said.

But he remains optimistic. SMEs can be eligible to apply for grants if they are adopting the pre-approved solution

Futureproof technology

New rules on emissions might also give the product a boost. The new Vehicular Emissions Scheme that comes into effect from January 2018 will see rebates or surcharges determined by the vehicle’s worst-performing pollutant. Come April next year, new cars will also have to emit less carbon monoxide and meet a new hydrocarbons cap.

Jianli, who is scaling back his spray-painting business to focus on Neuto, is hoping the technology would be better received then as it can help automotive shop owners monitor these gases. “Neuto is not just a machine for cleaning carbon. It can analyse the levels of gases in the engine through the exhaust,” he explained.

Moreover, a diagnostic test assessing the gases can quickly pinpoint faults that cars may have, reducing the time needed for mechanics to search for a reason. “That is more efficient and productive than car owners going to your workshop and telling you something’s wrong, but they don’t know what’s the problem.”

For more information about pre-approved solutions, SMEs can contact the nearest SME Centre.

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