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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-14-2004, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Cars of the future to be assembled atom by atom

That's the fascinating premise held in this article:

Cars of the future to be assembled atom by atom
High-tech will make vehicles safer, more powerful and lighter

By Nick Bunkley / The Detroit News

Researchers are finding ways to make vehicles safer, lighter, more powerful — and ultimately less expensive — by building materials one atom at a time.

Nanotechnology, which involves working at a scale more than 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, is about to revolutionize the way cars are built and driven.

Factories will run more efficiently with the help of microscopic assembly machines. Injuries caused by accidents will be reduced. And eventually the price of your dream car might finally be a little closer to your budget.

General Motors Corp. is already using nanocomposites to build lighter but stronger running boards for several van models, as well as cargo beds for the Hummer H2 and exterior panels for the Chevrolet Malibu sedan.

But that’s only the beginning. Your next car could have a nanocoated windshield that resists cracking and breaking, a lighter body that provides better crash protection or even cup holders that keep your coffee steaming in the morning and your Coke cold on the ride home.

“Things that weren’t possible will be possible,” said John Bedz, director of the Michigan Small Tech Association, “and things that right now are bulky or inefficient will be enhanced by these technologies.”

As Americans’ love for bigger vehicles has grown, automakers have gotten used to thinking small. Most cars already have a handful of pinhead-sized devices known as microelectromechanical systems — from air-bag accelerometers to engine-oil condition sensors.

But nanotechnology operates on a much tinier level — in terms of nanometers, which are one-millionth of a millimeter. Unlike current production methods, in which existing materials are combined, nanotechnology takes individual atoms and precisely assembles them to produce materials with desirable characteristics.

That means no longer having to choose a heavier body panel to cut costs or a weaker cargo bed to minimize a vehicle’s weight.

“It’s opening a whole new world for us in the auto industry,” said Alan Taub, GM’s executive director of global research and development. “We’re entering a world that we can actually improve on all the critical dimensions rather than making a trade-off.”

GM is the world’s largest user of nanocomposites. Ford Motor Co. does not yet use nanoengineered materials to the same degree as GM, but envisions the technology playing a large role in developing catalytic converters, fuel cells, structural materials and adhesives, said Ken Hass, manager of physical and environmental sciences at Ford.

“It’s not going to change the overall vehicle to be unrecognizable from today,” Hass said. “But the biggest impact may well be beyond anybody’s imagination today.”

Cole Quinnell, a spokesman for DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group, said the automaker was not ready to discuss its plans to use nanotechnology.

Enormous impact cited

Experts say there’s no question nanotechnology will have an enormous impact on the cost and performance of catalytic converters, which remove most pollutants from vehicle exhaust.

Nanoengineered catalysts can replace platinum and palladium, two precious metals most commonly used in catalytic converters. Platinum and palladium are expensive and in short supply worldwide.

Because catalysis only occurs on the surface of the metals, most of the weight — which drives up the price — is essentially just filler. Nanotechnology can create catalysts that are entirely surface area.

“There are nonprecious metals that in nanoscale behave as if they are platinum,” said Ismat Shah, professor of materials science and physics at the University of Delaware.

GM’s Taub said automakers will likely introduce limited amounts of nanotechnology in certain models for the next few years, with widespread use by the beginning of the next decade.

Other uses for nanotechnology in the auto industry include:

* Suspension systems. Injecting small iron-based particles into certain fluids creates a magnetic field that changes the viscosity from a thin liquid to a solid. This allows a vehicle to instantly alter its suspension system based on the conditions it senses.

* Amenities like cup holders that can absorb or produce heat, keeping beverages at the perfect temperature. A Traverse City company called Tellurex Corp. is developing such a product.

* Scratch-resistant paints. William Messner, a mechanical engineering professor at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, said he was amazed by a demonstration in which a car with one door covered in nanoengineered paint was run repeatedly through a car wash. That door looked brand new, he said, while the rest of the vehicle lost its original luster.

“Any part of the car that’s made has the potential to be improved by nanotechnology,” Messner said, “because ultimately materials and parts are made out of atoms and molecules.”

Just what is nanotechnology, anyway?
The National Nanotechnology Institute defines nanotechnology as science that involves all of the following:

* Research and technology development at the atomic, molecular or macromolecular levels, in the length scale of about 1-100 nanometer range (1 million nanometers equals 1 millimeter).

* Creating and using structures, devices and systems that have novel properties and functions because of their small and/or intermediate size.

* Ability to control or manipulate on the atomic scale.

Medical researchers work at the micro- and nano-scales to develop new drug delivery methods, therapeutics and pharmaceuticals. For instance, DNA, our genetic material, is in the 2.5 nanometer range, while red blood cells are about 2.5 micrometers (2,500 nanometers).

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-15-2004, 08:50 AM
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Great article. I have read a lot about how HP has their feet deep into nano-tech projects with large automakers. I am eager to see where this goes. If any of the above statements are to come true in the near future, I am going to push for the scratch-resistent paint! Man, I would pay extra for that technology in a second.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-07-2005, 10:37 AM Thread Starter
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Ford's nanotechnology alliance

Ford may well be giving automotive nanotechnology a boost with its just-announced alliance with Northwestern University and aircraft maker Boeing. Here's the story from The Detroit News:

Nanotechnology catches on at Ford
Automaker teams with Northwestern University, Boeing to study how small science can pay big.
By Nick Bunkley

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Ford Motor Co. will collaborate with aircraft maker Boeing Co.p. and Northwestern University to research how nanotechnology can improve car and plane design and ultimately lead to more alternative-powered vehicles.

Ford is promoting the alliance as evidence of the automaker's commitment to innovation as a means of improving sales and returning to profitability.

"Creativity and innovation is the competitive advantage," said Anne Stevens, Ford group vice president for Canada, Mexico and South America. Stevens announced the alliance Thursday at the opening of the Ford Motor Co. Engineering Design Center on Northwestern's campus, which was funded in part with a $10 million donation from the automaker.

Researchers from Ford and Boeing will work with Northwestern faculty members to develop nanocomposites, specialty metals, thermal materials and sensors that could be used to make vehicles stronger, lighter, more powerful and less expensive to manufacture.

"The aerospace industry is one, unlike autos, that hasn't used steel for decades," said Lindsay Brooke, a senior analyst with auto industry consultant CSM Worldwide in Farmington Hills. "Composites are where aircraft design is going. Anything a company like Boeing has learned and has practiced can really benefit an automaker like Ford, which is looking ... for stronger and lighter."

Nanocomposites are materials made using nanotechnology, a science that involves manipulating individual molecules.

"Stronger, lighter materials would benefit us in almost every car we make," said Edward Krause, Ford's external alliances manager. "Nanotechnology isn't one thing. It enables improvements across countless technologies."

Initially, using nanotechnology raises costs, said Charles Wu, Ford's director of manufacturing and vehicle design. But it can allow breakthroughs that ultimately reduce expenses and have invaluable benefits.

Ford has used nanotechnology to make more efficient catalytic converters for some vehicles and to create more durable paint for the Ford GT. Other automakers have been using the technology to build stronger running boards, cargo beds and exterior panels.

Ford hopes the alliance will help it build more fuel-efficient cars and engines that are more durable because they run cooler. The research also will focus on designing vehicles that run on alternative energy sources, such as hydrogen and electricity. Nanotechnology should allow batteries for hybrid vehicles that produce more energy while weighing less and taking up less space, Stevens said.

CEO Bill Ford Jr. recently said half of the company's models will have hybrid capabilities by 2010. By making batteries and other components smaller, it opens up space for more features that consumers want in their vehicles, Stevens said. Designers will be forced to make fewer compromises when choosing materials and amenities.

"When you're engineering a vehicle, you're always making tradeoffs," Stevens said. "It creates an opportunity to give the consumer more."

Ford chose to work with Northwestern because of the university's emphasis on nanotechnology. Northwestern has about 40 faculty members working on nanotechnology, while Ford has eight to 10 researchers in that field. The Dearborn-based automaker also hopes to encourage university students to study nanotechnology and join its ranks as the field becomes more integrated into the auto industry.

Ford has long-standing relationships with both Boeing and Northwestern. It has worked with Boeing for a decade on projects including aluminum bonding and rapid prototyping and has partnered with Northwestern for 30 years.

http://www.detnews.com/2005/autosins...C01-340435.htm

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-11-2005, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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The world's smallest car

Another interesting nanotechnology article. This one's from The Sydney Morning Herald via Drive.com.au:

The world's smallest car
0-200... degrees. The nanocar is a real hot-rod.



Scientists at Rice University in Texas have won the race to build the world's smallest car. It's called the nanocar, which ought to give a clue about its size. They say it is the world's first single-molecule vehicle and is built using nano-technology.

It has a chassis, pivoting axles and rotating wheels and measures three to four nanometres across, making it slightly wider than a strand of DNA. To put it in perspective, a human hair is about 80,000 nanometres in diameter. So in the width of a human hair you could place about 20,000 nanocars end to end. That's small.

The nanocar is described in a research paper from the university, which says the synthesis and testing of nanocars and other molecular machines is "providing critical insight in our investigations of bottom-up molecular manufacturing".

Professor James M. Tour, of the university's departments of chemistry, mechanical engineering, materials science and computer science, says: "We'd eventually like to move objects and do work in a controlled fashion on the molecular scale and these vehicles are great test beds for that. They're helping us learn the ground rules."

The nanocar is capable of rolling on its wheels in a direction at right angles to its axles and was tested by rolling it across a gold surface. At room temperature, strong electrical bonds held the wheels tightly against the gold but heating to about 200C freed them to roll.

Tour's research group has spent almost eight years perfecting the techniques used to make the nanocar and it is now working on a light-driven nanocar and a nanotruck that can carry a payload.

http://www.drive.com.au/editorial/ar...vf=4&bg=1&pp=1

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2005, 07:04 PM
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Great find jruhi. Thats probably the best article/find I have seen on nanotechnology concerning the application of cars.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-04-2008, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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A nanotechnology super-water repellant

Oak Ridge Creates Super-Water Repellant
By Herb Shuldiner
WardsAuto.com

Scientists have created a new inexpensive, super-water repellant coating that has the potential to make water and dirt slide off car windshields and bodies.

Developed by John Simpson, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, TN, the super-hydrophobic coating benefits from progress made in nanotechnology and is made from crushed glass.

“What I developed is a glass powder-coating material with remarkable properties that causes water-based solutions to bounce off virtually any coated surface,” he says.

The nano-structured material maintains a microscopic layer of air on surfaces, even when submerged in water, a quality Simpson refers to as the “Moses effect.”

Existing super-hydrophobic coatings are expensive and are poor water repellants, he says, making them impractical for most commercial uses.

The new coating starts with crushed, phase-separated glass, which initially has hydrophilic, or water bonding, properties. The glass then is transformed into a hydrophobic material, creating a water-repelling powder.

The final product is “unwettable,” Simpson says, adding only a small amount is needed to cover a relatively large surface area.

Oak Ridge Creates Super-Water Repellant

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-17-2008, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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More on Ford and nanotechnology

Ford Turns to Nanotech to Cut Pounds, Save Fuel
By Matthew Phenix - Wired

Lotus Cars founder Colin Chapman once observed, "To add speed, add lightness." Now, the Ford Motor Company is putting a modern spin on Chapman's statement: To save fuel, add lightness. During this week’s 2008 SAE World Congress in Detroit, the company announced a broad initiative to enhance automotive materials — and lighten the cars themselves — through the use of nanotechnology, a broad scientific field wherein materials' properties and chemistry are manipulated on the atomic or molecular level to achieve a desired outcome.

Guided by a goal to realize a 40-percent boost in fuel efficiency by 2020, Ford's scientists are working to reduce vehicles' curb weights by some 250 to 750 pounds, depending on the model, using nanoparticles to create materials that weigh less but sacrifice nothing in terms of strength, performance, or durability.

Areas of focus for Ford include exterior paints that adhere better, stay bright longer, don't chip, and efficiently dissipate heat. The company is also studying ways to make lighter, stronger alloys for engine castings and scouring every nook and cranny for weight-loss opportunities.

For instance, Ford's lab in Germany has created a spray-on nano-coating that may replace cast-iron cylinder liners. The substance wears hard and cuts friction losses significantly, at a fraction of the iron liners' weight.

Ford estimates that by 2015, some 70 percent of automotive materials will be modified or redefined by nanotechnology.

Ford Turns to Nanotech to Cut Pounds, Save Fuel | Autopia from Wired.com

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-20-2008, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by jruhi4 View Post
Oak Ridge Creates Super-Water Repellant
By Herb Shuldiner
WardsAuto.com

Scientists have created a new inexpensive, super-water repellant coating that has the potential to make water and dirt slide off car windshields and bodies.

Developed by John Simpson, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, TN, the super-hydrophobic coating benefits from progress made in nanotechnology and is made from crushed glass.

“What I developed is a glass powder-coating material with remarkable properties that causes water-based solutions to bounce off virtually any coated surface,” he says.

The nano-structured material maintains a microscopic layer of air on surfaces, even when submerged in water, a quality Simpson refers to as the “Moses effect.”

Existing super-hydrophobic coatings are expensive and are poor water repellants, he says, making them impractical for most commercial uses.

The new coating starts with crushed, phase-separated glass, which initially has hydrophilic, or water bonding, properties. The glass then is transformed into a hydrophobic material, creating a water-repelling powder.

The final product is “unwettable,” Simpson says, adding only a small amount is needed to cover a relatively large surface area.

Oak Ridge Creates Super-Water Repellant
This would be great for the windshield of a car. Would wipers really even be needed? Thats a impressive cost, space and weight savings if one could eliminate wipers entirely. It might also lower drag on a vehicle as the wipers are no longer catching wind. Wind noise from that area would also be reduced, possibly allowing thinner windshields and further weight savings.
I can see this being huge for watercraft builders if cost is overcome. Boats suffer from huge drag, due to simply pushing the water out of their way. This kills fuel efficiency, and is of course the reason why it takes so much power to go fast on the water.
Imagine, for a moment, if one could coat the hull of a boat, or jet ski with this substance. Go faster with less power and fuel use? Sounds like a winning idea.Being more efficient will be a must for all vehicles, and the way I see it, there are a lot of very exciting changes coming. Technology is cool.

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-03-2010, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Current uses of nanotechnology

Nanotech Standards Coming to European Auto Industry
By Keith Nuthall and Mark Rowe - WardsAuto.com

As auto manufacturers start to realize the utility of incorporating parts and components using nanotechnology to improve their performance, the European Union is looking hard at special regulations to protect the public and the environment from nanoparticles.

These miniscule materials are a double-edged sword. They allow plastics, textiles, alloys and coatings to have new and highly marketable properties, but they also can behave in unexpected ways, passing through human skin into the blood or even brain. How they interact with nature is not understood well by scientists.

But before rules can be framed for auto makers and their suppliers on how they handle, research, develop and manufacture nanomaterials, a definition of nanoparticles is required.

The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission – its science and research arm – is recommending nanoparticles be considered between 1 and 100 nanometers.

Nanotechnology already is being used in car parts and components, including tires. Lanxess, a German chemicals company, has used nano-sized particles made from polymerized styrene and butadiene, the traditional tire rubber raw materials, to manufacture tires that are longer-lasting and grip the road better.

“Our Nanoprene rubber is being tested by a lot of companies worldwide for different types of tires,” says Werner Obrecht, rubber expert at the Technical Rubber Products business unit of Lanxess. “The additive prolongs the mileage of the tires by 15%, enhances grip by the same amount and also reduces rolling resistance.”

InMat Inc., a New Jersey-based company, has developed a coating for tires that mixes nanoparticles of clay with plastics and conventional synthetic rubber. The smaller nano clay particles dramatically reduce the rate at which oxygen can escape, which means the tires depreciate much more slowly.

BMW has produced a catalytic filter for diesel cars coated with carbon nanotube membranes that break up hydrocarbon deposits created by burnt fuel re-entering the combustion chamber. Such filters can remove up to 99% of particulates with diameters of less than a micrometer.

Paints are coming into commercial production that use nanotechnology to migrate silicon particles to the outer surface of the coating, creating an extremely thin, hard, glass-like surface three times more scratch-resistant than conventional non-metallic or metallic paints.

U.S.-based PPG Industries Inc. has produced a nano-based scratch-free paint, CeramiClear, in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz.

As for regulations, the industry worldwide needs to be mindful of potential end-of-life requirements, and not just in Europe.

“The technology is new enough that we are not yet looking at tires or car bumpers that have nano elements and which have reached the end of their lives,” says Sally Tinkle, senior science advisor to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the U.S.

“But we understand the immediacy of these questions and the need to protect public health and the environment.”

Nanotech Standards Coming to European Auto Industry

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 03:37 PM
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According to recent reports, nanotechology – controlling matter at an atomic and molecular level (thanks, Wikipedia!) – is about to hit the automobile world full-force. And the results could be both good and bad.

First, a few examples of the good: First we have a German chemicals company called Lanxess that's used nanotechnology to create tires that perform better than traditional rubber in both overall performance and wear. Secondly, under the hood of BMW's diesel models is a particulate filter coated with tiny carbon nanotubes, enabling it to remove 99 percent of all particulate matter. And finally, Mercedes-Benz has partnered with PPG to create a nanotech paint with a glass-like outer coating that's three-times less likely to scratch.

According to Wards Auto, though, nano particles "can behave in unexpected ways, passing through human skin into the blood or even brain." While we're not experts, the idea of nano particles on the brain doesn't sound very enticing. It's also not fully understood how these tiny materials can damage the environment and nature. In deference to these facts, the European Union is reportedly considering how best to define nano particles so it can regulate the technology.

The United States is also looking into nanotechnology regulations. Sally Tinkle, senior science advisor to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said, "The technology is new enough that we are not yet looking at tires or car bumpers that have nano elements and which have reached the end of their lives... But we understand the immediacy of these questions and the need to protect public health and the environment."
Nanotechnology standards coming for auto industry? — Autoblog

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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, that's just Autoblog's commentary article on the WardsAuto.com original that I posted right above yours.

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 04:33 PM
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Sorry! I'm still on 56k and just got back from a long absence from the internet. Can't check links like I use to. My uncles ceremony is tomorrow, so I should be back to regular posting soon.

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My uncles ceremony is tomorrow...
Sorry to hear. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-31-2011, 08:19 PM Thread Starter
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Nanotechnology comes to steel:

Steel nanotechnology can reduce the weight of our cars
Making Stronger Steel As Light As Aluminum

by John McElroy - Autoline Detroit on Autoblog

The world's largest steel maker, ArcelorMital, says it has come up with a new kind of steel that the world has never seen before. Thanks to nanotechnology, the company says automakers can now match the weight of aluminum cars, but do it in steel at far lower cost.

Specifically, ArcelorMital says it can take 188 pounds out of the body-in-white of a car. The body-in-white, or BIW, refers to the basic structure of a car, including the doors, hood and deck lid. That's a big number. By taking so much weight out of the structure, other components such as the powertrain, drivetrain, brakes, etc. can be downsized as well. In other words, the total weight savings could be even bigger.

ArcelorMital is already showing this new kind of steel to automakers. It isn't yet ready to publicly divulge any of the technical aspects of the steel or how it's using nanotechnology to make it. The company says we're still two to three years away before we get those kinds of details. And that's about the time we'll see this steel show up in production. No word yet on which car company may be the first to use it, but the rumor on the street is that Ford is all over this technology.

The nano steel itself is not inherently lighter, but it's so strong that automakers can use thinner gauges and that's where part of the weight savings comes from. Another part of the weight savings comes from not having to use additional brackets, gussets or panels to strengthen the structure.

For example, A-pillars are becoming so big these days due to roof crush standards that they are actually becoming a safety hazard. The fat A-pillars can partially block your view to side traffic or pedestrians. But with this nano steel, A-pillars could be made much thinner with no sacrifice to structure or safety.

Nor is this steel cheaper than other grades of steel. In fact, it's probably a little bit more expensive. But by eliminating all those brackets and extra panels, the total tooling cost of a car goes down, and that's where the costs savings comes from.

To get the maximum 188-pound reduction in the BIW, an automaker would have to design-in the nano steel's capabilities using a clean sheet approach. But ArcelorMittal says that some applications, especially cross-members, lend themselves to running changes on existing designs.

The nano steel does require a newer manufacturing technique called hot stamping. That's where automakers heat up the steel blanks that go into a stamping press to the point where they're literally glowing red. Then they feed the red hot blanks into a press and stamp them into body panels. Heating up the steel makes it much more pliable and enables it to be formed into more complex shapes. Actually, this is a fairly common process already in use today, used to form the high-strength steels that have been available for the last decade and a half. So, while the nano steel requires hot stamping, it's not as if automakers need to make a big investment in manufacturing technology.

It's very impressive to see the steel industry delve into new technology to keep its product relevant. Aluminum, magnesium and composites definitely pose a competitive threat to steel. But they're also considerably more expensive, are not as easily repaired in most body shops, and require considerably more energy to recycle. That's why they've not found widespread use in cars, or at least not as widespread as steel.

And yet, I've heard tantalizing whispers of the new breakthrough coming in aluminum. It's called covitic aluminum, where somehow they impregnate aluminum with carbon fiber. There, now you know about as much of it as I do.

I'm pretty sure we'll get some sort of announcement later this year about covitic aluminum. But for right now at least, this nano steel seems to be the latest word in materials technology.

Steel nanotechnology can reduce the weight of our cars — Autoblog

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-01-2011, 06:48 AM
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Working for US Steel now for 12 years, just recently our finishing mills and rolling mills have been looking into "hot stamping". We have heard quite a bit about it, and even china has adopted this into SOME of their steel making process.

I think this is great considering nanotechnology is very effective and can have great durability. Its funny though its been around for almost 3 decades and only now is it being used in large scale.

Very interesting articles!

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