DETROIT - Ford scientists are embracing the burgeoning field of nanotechnology in developing paints, plastics, light metals and catalysts that allow the company to reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel economy without sacrificing quality.

Ford has called out vehicle weight reduction as a key part of its strategy to improve fuel economy by 40 percent by 2020. The goal is to reduce vehicle weight from 250 to 750 pounds, depending on the model, between 2012 and 2020 without compromising safety.
Ford’s European research lab in Aachen, Germany, is developing a thermally sprayed nanocoating that could replace the heavier cast-iron liners and provide the necessary wear resistance of cylinder bores in aluminum-block engines. This thin, wear-resistant coating reduces weight and improves friction performance while delivering equal durability and reliability to the product.
Coatings for vehicle exterior paint can also benefit from Ford’s nano-knowledge. Researchers are evaluating advanced surface coating applications that could enhance paint adhesion, appearance and durability.

Nanotechnology holds great promise in the auto industry. By 2015, experts predict nanomaterials will reach 70-percent usage in automotive applications.