Nanotechnology already operates within our everyday life. As the automotive industry continues to progress, we may soon see – figuratively – nanotechnology improving the way our cars run as well as look.
Let’s discuss the different nanotechnology evolutions we may see in the car industry in the next few years.
What is nanotechnology?
Before diving into the nitty-gritty of cars, what kind of technology is nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology first came to light in 1959. Those who sought to pursue the field are said to have originally been inspired by Richard Feynman, an American physicist who claimed: “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” in a lecture to the American Physical Society.
Nanotechnology is not only a tech: it is science and engineering, as well, that works on the nanoscale. The nanoscale consists of 100 nanometres.
What does that mean in practical terms? Let’s consider this: there are 25,400,000 nanometres in a single inch. That’s almost inconceivably small and it’s definitely a scale too small to be seen with the naked human eye.
At this point in time, nanotechnology has been circulating in the tech you use for a while. The computers that power your cell phone and provide it with long-lived batteries operate alongside nanotechnology. Most medical equipment uses nanotechnology to deliver more accurate diagnoses and to ensure the best point-of-care testing possible.
If it’s already in circulation then, how is nanotechnology set to impact the way you drive your car?
Improved car durability
Your car manufacturer already prides themselves on crafting a petrol engine that is smaller, quieter and less environmentally-damaging than the engines that operated in older cars. Nanotechnology looks to take that evolution one step further. No matter the improvements on today’s modern cars, most engines still give off a combination of damaging friction and heat.
With the assistance of nanotechnology, manufacturers could reduce the amount of stress that internal-combustion engines endure while on the road. Alternatively, nanotechnology working in tandem with existing creative materials, like aluminium or steel, has the potential to make the inner workings of your engine stronger. As a result, your engine will be less likely to degrade, or will at least degrade more slowly than it once did.
In the age of the smartphone, connectivity is the name of the game. Your car may soon be one of many autonomous cars on the road that can connect to the motorway itself. With fleets of autonomous vehicles in the future, the integration of nanotechnology similar to that which you see in your phone could better enable that connection, even promoting connectivity between vehicles.
While connected cars may not seem to have much passenger usage, automated fleets that travel across the country on a daily basis could greatly benefit from having a central base of control. While this kind of development prompts greater discussion about the cyber security of cars, it’s fascinating to think of the ways your car could soon communicate with the other cars you pass on the road.
Electric engines and nanotechnology
Nanotechnology has also found a potential home in the electric car of the future. With a greater drive for sustainability changing automotive technologies, manufacturers worldwide have had to cycle out their fossil fuel-compatible engines for electric and hydrogen vehicles.
Nanotechnology allows for these new engines to contain that energy. Fuel cells hold onto hydrogen, specifically, in a semi-solid state, and nanotechnology allows car batteries to retain an electric charge for a longer time than they would otherwise.
These batteries, in particular, pair with nanoparticles of silicon to form lithium-silicon batteries. With evolution of this kind cycling through the automobile industry, electric vehicles will soon charge in a shorter period of time, allow drivers to stay on the road for longer, and allow for greener driving throughout the UK.
Comfier car interiors
This sort of technology doesn’t just operate under the hood of your car. You may soon find nanotechnology working to make the interior of your car more comfortable. It’s been proposed that nanotechnology could be used to create types of synthetic fabric that will endure long-term use without showing signs of stress.
This means no chaffing, no colour loss and fewer rips in the fabric of your seats. You’ll be able to maintain the aesthetic of your car without having to give up any messy hobbies or extended road trips!
Nanotechnology has a diverse reach. That may seem strange, given that the technology is so small. Because nanotechnology can work on such a minuscule level, it poses solutions to the automobile industry’s problems that no one was able to consider before.
With a push towards sustainability and a need for cars to last longer while on the road, nanotechnology seems poised to step into the automobile industry’s limelight and make driving all the more enjoyable for everyone who gets behind the wheel.