reportFocus Report 2010: Coatings, Adhesives & Sealants
1.4 Executive Summary
Potential applications of nanotechnology in the transport sector are enormous. The match between the advantages derived from using nanotechnology, such as new, improved or tailored properties, and the market needs in the transport sector, such as more sustainable, safer and economic transport modes, has triggered huge public and private investments in the field.
As a result, a small percentage of today’s new cars and aircrafts already incorporate nanotechnology. From nanotubes in cars’ fuel lines, to nanoparticles in scratch resistant glass coatings, or as fuel additives to improve fuel combustion efficiency, nanotechnology has started to enter the transport sector. Cars and aircraft have benefited from the development of nanomaterials production technologies (for example providing benefit/cost attractive nanoparticles) and from better characterisation tools and control of processes that are already widely established in industries (e.g. PVD and CVD processes for coatings).
However, nanotechnology has not significantly contributed to lighter vehicle structures and powertrain systems nor to more efficient or alternative propulsion systems. Failing to meet the full set of industrial requirements (e.g. production volumes, automation and/or quality assurance) is preventing further deployment into mass‐markets. Maintaining stringent performance requirements (e.g. stiffness, strength, wear‐resistance) at a reasonable cost has also limited the application of nanotechnologies to vehicle parts such as windows or bumpers. Rigorous safety regulation in addition to long development times and costs (especially relevant to the aeronautics sector) do not ease the situation.
Looking into the future, nanotechnology will continue to penetrate into the transport sector providing it delivers clear advantages as compared to competing solutions that still offer room for significant improvements. Despite the long lifetimes of transport vehicles (from 10 to more than 30 years) which results in a slow market penetration rate, there are potentially huge advantages that could justify investment in new materials, processes or tools.
Specifically, coatings and surface treatments are likely to continue to be the fastest growing nanotechnology applications both in vehicles’ parts and in tooling and production equipment. Coating technologies can benefit from developments in other sectors and can offer clear benefits in the short term; for example increased tooling lifetime). Adhesives and sealants can also be improved with nanotechnology to gain control over the process and to provide special properties to the final result.
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