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Nanotechnology Will Usher In The Next Big Electric Vehicle Thing

Futurist Ray Kurzweil talks about exponential change and the 'law of accelerating returns' at the 2015 SAE World Congress. Oh, and microscopic fuel cells.

Making Stronger Steel As Light As Aluminum

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.

We in no way claim to be experts on anything on the subject of nanotechnology, so please accept that we're kinda flying blind on this one... but apparently the the study of the controlling of matter on an atomic and molecular scale (thanks, Wikipedia!) is hitting the automobile world in full force. And that's both a good and (potentially) a very bad thing.

Nanotechnology isn't new to the green car discussion. After all, we've heard about the potential for nano lubricants and Ford's work researching nanotechnology for developing "paints, plastics, light metals and catalysts that will allow reduced vehicle weight and improved fuel economy." There's even a car called the Nano and a company called Altair Nanotechnologies that makes batteries, but those are different stories altogether.

Catalyx Nanotech has announced that they have successfully used landfill gas (LFG) obtained from a closed southern California landfill to produce 0.5 Kg of high-value Platelet Graphite Nanofibers and 2,000 liters of "green" hydrogen. Catalyx previously used natural gas at their Canadian plant to obtain these products, but wants to earn green credentials from using landfill gas despite the more expensive cost. One of the side benefits of using LFG is that it eliminates the extra cost expense of s

Nanotechnology holds amazing promise for many new green technologies, including the emissions controls which will allow the internal combustion engine to meet upcoming standards and the lithium ion batteries which threaten to make those same engines obsolete. There are many issues holding nano-tech back, though, not the least of which is the high price associated with the production of such tiny materials. So, when we read that Catalyx Nanotech, Inc. plans to begin mass production of Platelet Gr

A team of researchers at Iowa State University is developing a new system which promises biomass-sourced ethanol at very efficient production levels. The system, described as an "integrated system of thermochemical and catalytic technologies" is ready to use any kind of biomass, such as cornstalks, to obtain ethanol.

Efficiency is a large stumbling block if you're looking for a way to replace gasoline. It's pretty hard to better such an exceptional fuel, and several alternatives show promise but are nagged by inefficiencies or cost, and usually both. Nanotech to the rescue; it may soon be possible to produce your own hydrogen at home cheaply and easily, and NiMH batteries and fuel cells also stand to become less expensive and offer much better performance. With claims like that, QuantumSphere might well be s

The Idaho National Laboratory, Microcontinuum, Inc. and Patrick Pinhero from the University of Missouri are developing an exciting new technology which uses "nano-antennas" to capture solar energy. What is especially cool about this new solar technology is that it would operate both during the day and at night by using the leftover radiation after the sun goes down. Each nano-antenna is a spiral as wide as 1/25 the diameter of a human hair, meaning that many of them can be fit into a tiny space,

Just what is "liquid-nanotechnology", and why would I want my car covered in it? First, "liquid-nanotechnology" is what Ecology Coatings calls their product. Second, because unless you are driving a Delorean or a future Citroën, your car is most likely painted, maybe a few times at that. So, if your car needs to be coated to keep it from oxidizing, why not use an eco-friendly paint? That is what Ecology Coatings is trying to accomplish. They say, "Since 1990, Ecology has been singularly foc

Generally, solar cells on the market today do not produce much electricity from ultraviolet light, instead it is either filtered out or absorbed by the cell, heating the cell. That heat is wasted energy and could even lead to damage to the cell. However, researchers at the University of Illinois have discovered a way to utilize that energy by placing a film of silicon nanoparticles onto the silicon solar cell. By diluting particles of silicon in alcohol, covering a solar cell with it and letting

A research document led by Javier Bermejo, a scientist from the Basque Country University (UPV-EHU) in Spain and published in the Physical Review Letters magazine has shown "promising results" in the use of carbon nanostructures to store compressed hydrogen for automotive uses. The nano-storage units are called "nano-horns" and have a dahlia shape made up from "aggregated nanotubes that look like horns".

Battery technology has come a long way. Lead acid was the best that we had for a good long while, which is why it sees use in nearly every automobile sold in the world. Now, we have the nickel based battery chemistries and the newest lithium based batteries which are expected to allow the final leap into truly relevant all electric cars. This is all great news to anybody who is concerned with the use of fossil fuels for transportation. But, as more and more power is required to give the performa

A team of investigators leaded by Victor Lin, from Iowa State university and program director for the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, have developed a nanosphere-based catalyst claimed to be revolutionary for biodiesel production. Current methods use sodium methoxide – a toxic, corrosive and flammable catalyst – which must be removed using acid neutralization, water washes and separations. This catalyst is mostly lost during the process.

Nanotechnology never ceases to amaze me. Considering how complex we humans like to make things, not to mention how big we like to make things (SUVs anyone?), going ultra-small holds so many advantages. We talk about range-extenders when we speak of electric cars all the time, but the idea of carrying around an internal combustion (IC) engine all the time for the few times we would actually need to use it seems to make little sense in the long run. The problem is that with current battery technol

Regular readers of our site are well aware that battery technology is often cited by major carmakers as a hurdle that needs to be overcome to be able to mass produce electric and hybrid electric automobiles. GM, with their Volt concept, and many other manufacturers are placing their bets on high power lithium ion batteries.

Nanoscale materials are so small only an electron microscope can see them. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. To put that into perspective, a human hair is about 80,000 nanometers wide.

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