ABSTRACTThis report was commissioned to investigate the current and future trends of nanotechnology in the automotive industry.
Furthermore, its purpose is to ascertain whether it is necessary, and how it could be achieved for students undertaking a BSc (Nanotechnology) at Curtin University to be equipped to work in the automotive industry. To investigate this issue a wide and varied multimedia research task was undertaken to fully identify all the factors involved. A report was then compiled detailing the findings and the recommendations that arose from the research. The results indicate that there is a fast growing trend of nanotechnology in the automotive industry, that has started already and is moving rapidly.
By 2010 nanotechnology will represent a significant portion of the industry, and will be vitally important to everyone involved, especially the large automotive companies. There are many exciting job prospects in this highly profitable field for experts in nanotechnology, therefore it is recommended that the BSc (Nanotechnology) offered at Curtin University be adapted to include two new units. The first will be run in first year in collaboration with the Curtin Business School, and will offer students a chance to learn about the business side of the automotive industry. They will learn how to manage companies, and fit in with large ones, in a business sense. The second unit will be offered in third year, when students have a solid foundation of physics, chemistry and nanotechnology.
It will be a unit shared with the appropriate engineering degrees and taught by the engineering staff. The unit will give students a thorough understanding of conventional engines and car production procedures. They will then have a good idea of how to adapt their vast knowledge of nanotechnology to the process. The writer would like to thank Dr Drexler for giving up his precious time to answer our questions and Dr Abbs for providing a good base of support and help.
1 Introduction 1. 1Nanotechnology today is a very broad and varied field. It has ramifications across all many industrials areas, including the automotive industry. As the field develops and the technology advances, the applications in conventional areas will broaden. Therefore, it is essential that those studying nanotechnology today be properly equipped to affect, and adapt to, these changes.
The term nanotechnology’ is not clearly defined. There are many different definitions, and meanings. However, it is often described as either, future nanosystems, including nano assemblers and robots, or as a broad term meaning any current technology which deals with small systems. To be small enough to be considered as nanotechnology, the system must have at least one dimension of less than 100 nanometres. The following definition of nanotechnology by Drexler, states,There are two sorts of ;nanotechnology;, which should not be confused. The first is a long-term objective of productive nanosystems, small devices that build complex structures, both large and small, with atomic precision.
The second is a label for a broad collection of ongoing research activities, many in the area of materials science. My work is in the former area. ‘(E Drexler pers comm. 2005)The automotive industry could see large benefits, from both areas in the present and near future. So if these changes are coming, how do we equip our nanotechnology students to deal with, or implement them? There are many options discussed below, all have associated pros and cons, however it is clear that something must be done, and soon.
2 Automotive nanotechnology today2. 1The second type of nanotechnology, as described by Drexler in the introduction, is already in use within the automotive industry. A plastic nanocomposite is being used for “step assists” in the GM Safari and Astro Vans. It is scratch-resistant, light-weight, and rust-proof, and generates improvements in strength and reductions in weight, which lead to fuel savings and increased longevity.
And in 2001, Toyota started using nanocomposites in a bumper that makes it 60% lighter and twice as resistant to denting and scratching. ‘ (Harper T, 2005)It is likely that when Toyota or GM were looking for employees to help develop and integrate this technology, those with education in both nanotechnology and the automotive industry would have a good chance of employment. For this type of application, students would benefit from .