Vehicles of the future are anticipated to be nothing like how it is today. Many disruptive trends including nanotechnology are sweeping the automotive industry by storm. At a time when the reduction of fuel consumption, environmental impact, safety, driver information, comfort, and alternatives to toxic or expensive materials are taken into account, nanotechnology comes into the picture to transform car manufacturing.
In 2006, Volkswagen unraveled Volkswagen Nanospyder in Los Angeles Design Challenge. The vehicle was supported by hydrogen fuel cells, solar power, wheel-mounted electric motors, and inflatable organic body panels with a combination of the unusual shape of the two-seater concept. The car almost stole everybody’s hearts. Even after a decade and more, the vehicle is still a work in progress. Every bit of the object behind this amazing idea has nanotechnology devices in it. Nanospyder would be formed out of a latticework of billions of tiny programmable nanodevices powered by nanotechnology. But to date, the company is putting effort to make it a reality.
The automotive sector is a consumer of material technologies, especially, something like nanotechnology is a big booster to car manufacturing. Nanotechnology is defined as the creation and use of devices and machines on almost an atomic level. It is the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension size from 1 to 100 nanometers that can be put on an atomic scale. Today, the automotive industry is using nanotechnology to achieve usage of lightweight products, reduction in friction and emission by the engine, reduced wear and corrosion resistance, UV resistance, and advanced electronics and sensors. According to an estimation of the United Nations, the number of vehicles worldwide was at 750 million in 2019 and is anticipated to double to 1.5 billion by 2030. With the automotive industry gaining a high-level of importance due to emerging trends, nanotechnology will become the core of the sector.
Applications of nanotechnology in vehicle manufacturing
Lightweight mirrors and windows to ensure safety
The concept of safety is highly concerning for people in recent days. Automotive manufacturers are also addressing the safety issues by embracing nanotechnology to make car products secure, more durable, and sustainable. Recently, the concept of lightweight mirrors and windows are taking center stage in automotive manufacturing. The application of an ultra-thin reflective layer of aluminum oxide with thicknesses below 100 nm on the glass of vehicles is a very useful approach to enhance safety and security. By applying lightweight mirrors and windows in vehicles, the manufacturers can achieve a decrease in discomfort from sunlight and glare.
Tires made of nanomaterial for good grip.
Even before nanotechnology was considered by the automotive industry, car tire manufacturers embraced the technology to operate at a futuristic level. Carbon black was the first nanomaterial used by tire makers as a pigment and reinforcing agent. They acted as a key to keep the tire performance at scale. The mixture of rubber provided an optimization in requirements that are contradictory to its flaws. Around 30% of the tire cover consists of reinforcing fillers which make possible wanted properties such as grip, abrasion resistance, resistance to initial wear and tear, and tear propagation. By implying nanotechnology into car tires, it leverages good grip while driving.
Advanced electronic car batteries to lengthen battery life
The next generation of automotive is expected to be electric vehicles with powerful batteries. Electric vehicles are already hitting the streets and in the future, the usage of these futuristic cars will take over the roads. Electric vehicle manufacturers aim to lengthen battery life while increasing performance. This is impossible without implying nanotechnology in it. With the help of nanotechnology, lithium-silicon batteries are promising to boost performance and increase durability. Silicon nanowires, the recent development in battery can expand and contract as they absorb and shed lithium ions.