The Growing Significance of Nanotechnology in the Automotive Industry

The emergence of nanotechnology promises great innovations in areas such as materials and manufacturing. It is even leveraging for the treatment of diseases and for preventing health issues. Nanotechnology deals with the large set of materials and products that rely on a change in their physical properties as their sizes are so small. This is gaining rapid interest in the automotive industry as the sector extensively consumes material technologies.

Applications of nanotechnology in the industry range from paint quality, fuel cells, batteries, wear-resistant tires, lighter but stronger materials, ultra-thin anti-glare layers for windows and mirrors.

Volkswagen Nanospyder, a project of a fully recyclable vehicle, for instance, was one of the entries to the annual LA Auto Show’s Design Challenge in 2016. The Nanospyder only has a 5-year of time to keep up to date with the latest safety advances vehicles. It would use nanotechnology to create a vehicle that could be assembled, disassembled, and reassembled on a microscopic level.

The basic but essential trends where nanotechnology could drive the automobile are improved engine efficiency and fuel consumption for gasoline-powered cars; lighter but stronger materials; improved and miniaturized electronic systems; reduced environmental impact, compared to hydrogen and fuel cell-powered cars; and longer service life, lower component failure rate and smart materials for self-repair.

How Nanotechnology Works in Automotive

In the production of mirrors and side panels, nanotechnology is used extensively as they are made out of nanoparticles, which filter the rays of the sun, smoke, and other pollutants in the atmosphere. It also allows signals of radio and phone as well as sound waves to freely enter the cars. By deploying the nanoparticle coatings to the windshields the formation of fog over them can be eliminated completely.

In the making of cars, textiles are used widely, from seat coverings and seatbelts to air filters and tyre cord. However, the use of traditional fabrics are highly prone to wear and tear, collection of dirt and dust, and can be a fire risk if untreated. In this regard, implementing nanotechnology to textiles can improve their performance and lifetime. Already, some of which are already in use and some are still several years away from commercial application.

Moreover, a large share of the vehicles’ weight in contemporary cars is mainly due to the weight of the engine and transmission system of the vehicles. With nanotechnology engines and parts, it would be lighter and stronger. Manufacturers and engineers have learned how to maneuver aluminum’s on an atomic level in order to create materials that are both stronger and lighter than the current batch of strong aluminum alloys.

Nanotechnology can also be used to improve fuel cells, the clean alternative technology to hydrocarbon fuels. Nanotechnology offers a solution with the use of nanoparticles of platinum or other metals, to drastically lower the cost of fuel consumption.