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NanoSteel promises lighter and more fuel efficient without compromising safety

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August 15, 2012

NanoSteel's nano-structured steel materials can help automakers such as GM to make lighter...

NanoSteel's nano-structured steel materials can help automakers such as GM to make lighter cars

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With fuel costs continuing to rise, the search is on for ways to make cars lighter and improve fuel efficiency, without compromising strength and safety. NanoSteel, a Rhode Island-based company recently announced the development of new nano-structured advanced high-strength alloys whose strength and ductility meet automotive structural demands. The company plans on marketing its sheet metal products in 2013 and has recently received investment from GM suggesting they could soon be appearing in production vehicles.

NanoSteel has developed three classes of steel with tensile strengths of 950 MPa, 1,200 MPa and 1,600 MPa and elongation performance of 35, 30 and 15 percent, respectively. NanoSteel says its innovation is also compatible with existing automotive manufacturing infrastructure and it can also be cold formed, which means there's no need for elevated temperatures to form parts, a process that is both expensive and time consuming. This is thanks to the material’s inherent ductility, that is, its ability to deform under tensile stress, which allows the forming of component parts using room temperature metal stamping processes on existing manufacturing equipment.

The company says its technology stems from recent discoveries about the formation of nano-structures and improves on previous methods to avoid sheet steel’s brittleness, which makes it harder for the material to be worked into the shapes required for automotive parts. It claims the very cause of brittleness is eliminated during production because NanoSteel’s materials use new mechanisms to form nano-structures.

NanoSteel’s technology has caught the eye of GM Ventures, a General Motors subsidiary created to invest in new and promising automotive technologies. GM Ventures has announced it is investing in NanoSteel as part of its goal to reduce vehicle weight to achieve higher fuel efficiencies and meet stricter new U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

In the video below, NanoSteel’s CEO David Paratore and chief technical officer Daniel Branagan, discuss their company’s technology and the impact they believe it will have on the automotive industry.

Source: NanoSteel

About the Author
Antonio Pasolini Brazilian-Italian Antonio Pasolini graduated in journalism in Brazil before heading out to London for an MA in film and television studies. He fell in love with the city and spent 13 years there as a film reviewer before settling back in Brazil. Antonio's passion for green issues - and the outdoors - eventually got the best of him and since 2007 he's been writing about alternative energy, sustainability and new technology.   All articles by Antonio Pasolini
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11 Comments

So? The Quickstep nanotube composite and joining process does not use high pressures or temperatures. Net shapes formed.

cloa513
16th August, 2012 @ 03:56 am PDT

Steel is recyclable carbon fiber can be burned if the fumes from the glues aren't too toxic.

Pikeman
16th August, 2012 @ 08:25 am PDT

Excellent product. Ordinary structural steel has a tensile strength of 36 K (in the English units I am more familiar with), but this top end stuff converts out to 232 K if I did the operation correctly, That's simply amazing!

On the other hand, the objective is to shave a hundred pounds off a car., so I'm wondering why anyone should bother, now that pretty much each person driving or riding in the a car is overweight by at least that much?

Ironic.

Takis
16th August, 2012 @ 09:42 am PDT

"No infrastructure changes" makes it a no-brainer - higher strength should mean thinner / lighter / better fuel economy.

Paul Schacht
16th August, 2012 @ 10:41 am PDT

I agree with Takis about the passengers being the cheapest place to drop weight.

I was talking with a guy who was proud to have spent $15,000 in aftermarket equipment to reduce the weight of his motorcycle by 30kg. I pointed out that if he ate less he'd actually save money and easily drop 30kg. But he preferred to spend the money, enough that he could have bought a second track only bike.

Scion
16th August, 2012 @ 06:22 pm PDT

Good news for the consumer owned rooftop solar PV industry. The batteries can be smaller and the electric vehicle range can be extended. Those owning these rooftop units will pay a less than zero fuel cost (via free energy from sunshine) over the lifetime of the vehicle.

electric38
16th August, 2012 @ 10:29 pm PDT

More bull from the 'business as usual' auto makers. They don't want to make vehicles out of anything but steel because they are part of the steel fabrication industry, not because steel is the best material to use. For instance, polycarbonates are a third of the weight and 10X AS STRONG. In conditions where a steel vehicle will crush, a polycarbonate vehicle will be more inclined to bounce with the occupants securely strapped inside, like riding inside a crash helmet and, of course, that's not the only material available. Check out new entry manufacturers who are not tied to steel like Tesla. They wouldn't use steel in a fit because it's an inferior material for this use.

If the old guard auto makers, who really only want to sell us steel vehicles with internal combustion engines, don't change their ways they are in danger of being marginalised.

apprenticeearthwiz
17th August, 2012 @ 02:58 pm PDT

There are people that think loosing weight is easy; they have never tried.

Pikeman
18th August, 2012 @ 10:37 pm PDT

Steel ages far better than high strength aluminum and is far cheaper than either aluminum or composite materials.

Pikeman
19th August, 2012 @ 10:43 pm PDT

@apprenticeearthwiz

the 'crushing' of steel is exactly the reason why it is more suited to passenger vehicles than polymers. When steel crushes it removes energy from the impact that is not then able to pass to the occupants.

Crash a carbonfibre car and see what happens to you. i.e. the death of a test driver in the Lexus LFA.

mommus
21st August, 2012 @ 05:32 am PDT

mommus

carbon fibre is actually superior in crash performance than steel which is part of the reason formula one cars are built with it. you gave an example of someone dying in a carbon fibre car test, well what about the millions of people dying in steel cars, does nothing for your argument!.

Denis Klanac
3rd September, 2012 @ 02:22 am PDT
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