Editorial Feature

Emerging Products and Applications Using Nanotechnology in The Transport and Automotive Industry

Like many other sectors, the automotive industry is torn between trying to reduce costs on the one hand and, on the other, dealing with the high price of performance-enhancing technology and environmental compliance. Key drivers in the automotive industry are:

•        Reduced air pollution

•        Recyclability

•        Safety

•        Better performance and engine efficiency (fuel saving)

•        Aesthetics

Future Applications In The Automotive Industry

With some 55 million passenger vehicles sold worldwide in 2002, the automotive market is a very attractive one. Many of the proposed applications of nanotechnology are automotive related such as stronger, lighter, harder materials (nanocomposites), more efficient use of energy (fuel cells) and new nanoscale catalysts (pollution control). Car manufacturers seek to utilise technologies that relate to cost-effective improvements in vehicle performance, convenience and safety.

Nanotechnology Products in Todays Market

Nanotechnology has already found its way into a number of automotive applications, such as clay nanoparticles in composite materials in cars. The widespread use of nanocomposites in cars could, in one example, lead to an enormous decrease in fuel consumption, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Lightweight machine and automobile parts and low sintering material compounds are important components in the commercialisation chain of the automotive industry. Material characterization methods, on-line sensors for the measurement of wear and abrasion, or additives for the adhesion of parts and layers are also a focus in the automotive industry. Further developments target the avoidance of lubricants via thin layers on bearings and gliding elements, new electrostatic filters or high power switches in ignition devices via field emission principles, or new catalyst surfaces via highly porous and chemically selective surfaces. Nanoparticles are being used as abrasives, and in paints, and in electrochromic coatings for windscreens, or windows. The global market for automotive paint was £4bn in 2001 (PG Phillips & Associates).

The Impact Of Nanotechnology In The Following Areas

Direct and indirect involvement of the automotive industry in the commercial application of nanotechnology is increasing by the year and will continue to impact the following areas:

Materials and Coatings

•        Functional nanostructural materials

•        New cooling fluids and ferrofluids

•        Low friction nanocomposite coatings

•        Wear resistant nanocomposite coatings


•        High efficiency solar cell

•        Hydrogen storage for fuel cell

•        Nanocatalysts

•        Energy accumulators

Paints and Coatings for Vehicle Body

•        Iridescent coatings

•        Carbon nanotube based paints

•        Corrosion protection coatings

Night Vision Systems

•        High transmittance IR polymers embedded with nanoparticles

•        High sensitivity IR sensors


•        Cabin air quality monitoring

•        Exhaust emissions detection


•        Advanced functionalised textiles

•        Filters for air control

•        Electrochromic glasses

On Board Information

•        Thin film display

•        Interactive glasses (IPI)

•        Micro-shutter displays based on carbon nanotubes


•        Electro-optical films

•        New lighting sources

•        Electrochromic coatings

•        Optical switches

Primary author: Institute Of Nanotechnology

Source: Introduction To Nanotechnology CD ROM

For more information on this source please visit Institute Of Nanotechnology

Uploaded March 2004

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback