• Aug 4, 2010
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."

[Source: Wards Auto]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Welcome to the Diamond Age.

      No question, we need to stop and take a close look at the potential harm nanoscale materials could pose. Asbestos-like behavior of the materials involved really are the least of our worries here...
        • 4 Years Ago
        The robots are coming.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Remember asbestos, the material good for anything? Well, it had the same properties, it could easily pass the cell membranes, and it did a lot of damage to the lungs of the persons exposed. Worse still, the effects of asbestos exposure were detected decades later. I hope we are not in for a repeat of the same thing with carbon nanomaterials.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am a fan of all things science, and see where these could be really useful (holding out for a paint that changes color when a current hits it!), but there is also alot of potential for creating a product that does a lot of damage to us and our surroundings and I think it should be well studied before we all start wearing underwear made of nanotubes.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well Rich, if that's the way it read it wasn't my intention. As for having color changing paint, if you suspend these particles in a liquid (that's what paint is, even when dry) a two sided nanoparticle could be polarized to shift orientation under current or different low voltages. Nanoparticles of similar spec already exist so I don't see it as being out of the question to end up with a car that can switch between two colors.

        I never meant to imply an infinite number of hues.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Color-changing paint? As if need need any more ghetto-fab cars on the road.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mazdamia's post reads like a response to those broadcasts from the 1950s ("Progress! Industry! Technology! America!") which claimed we'd all benefit from nuclear power, and then present a picture of "Mom" taking an apple pie out of an imagined oven powered by a tiny nuclear reactor. Okay, so these days you can get a nuclear reactor to power a city block or an apartment building, but it's a far cry from what was imagined.

        Another one: flying cars are only now becoming a reality, and they're too expensive for most; yet "realistic" projections back in the day were claiming we'd all have them by 1980.

        So, color-changing paint so cheap you could bling up an SUV? Give it a hundred years or so, and you might get something close.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The technology sounds exciting but i agree that studies on health effects should be conducted before there's wide spread use. We don't want the same story as we had with asbestos again for sure.
      • 4 Years Ago
      But! But! What about my freedumb to use nanotechnology? Surely it's protected by the U.S. Constitution!? It shouldn't be regulated! Because! I might! Want to use! It!