Look ma, no dirt!

Motor Equipment News - - NEWS -

As if wa­ter­borne paints weren’t enough, re­pair­ers may be called upon to deal with a com­pletely new type of paint be­fore very long – one that re­pels dirt, wa­ter and oil, and holds up even in such harsh en­vi­ron­ments as acid rain.

The new coat­ing, called self­clean­ing paint, is hy­dropho­bic, which means it re­pels wa­ter, and oleo­pho­bic, which means it re­pels oil.

The good news for those won­der­ing how they’re go­ing to deal with the new paint if a car comes in which has been dam­aged and needs a re-spray, is that it’s not yet ready for mass production, al­though we ex­pect it won’t be long be­fore it finds its way onto production cars as it prom­ises to be a great mar­ket­ing tool for those who come out first with it.

The new paint was de­vel­oped at the Nis­san Tech­ni­cal Cen­tre in the United King­dom in con­junc­tion with a nan­otech­nol­ogy firm called Nano Labs, and it’s cur­rently un­der­go­ing test­ing on a fleet of Nis­san Leaf elec­tric cars.

“While there are cur­rently no plans for the tech­nol­ogy to be ap­plied to Nis­san ve­hi­cles as stan­dard equip­ment, Nis­san will con­tinue to con­sider the coat­ing tech­nol­ogy as a fu­ture af­ter­mar­ket op­tion,” Nis­san said in a press re­lease.

The paint is known as nanocoat­ing, and it’s cre­ated us­ing nan­otech­nol­ogy, us­ing par­ti­cles of el­e­ments that are so small they have to be cre­ated in a lab­o­ra­tory.

Sounds pretty dif­fi­cult, and it is, but once they HAVE been cre­ated they have unique prop­er­ties, es­pe­cially in their re­la­tion­ship to or­di­nary, par­ti­cles.

Al­though nano-paints they have been used in other fields – for in­stance, to cre­ate a bet­ter sun­screen, or even cloth­ing which re­pels pol­lu­tion – Nis­san is the first car­maker to see their pos­si­bil­r­ties in the car in­dus­try.

Once th­ese nanopar­ti­cles are cre­ated, they have some re­ally unique prop­er­ties – es­pe­cially in terms of how they re­act with or­di­nary par­ti­cles. They’ve been used to cre­ate cloth­ing that can re­duce air pol­lu­tion on con­tact, and they’ve even been added to prod­ucts like sun­screen.

Nis­san is the first ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer to put a nano-coat­ing on a car, though, and the au­to­mo­tive ver­sion of the paint is called Ul­traEver Dry.

The paint is based on coat­ings that are sold for in­dus­trial and com­mer­cial uses, for in­stance on build­ings to pre­vent graf­fiti.

It works by min­imis­ing the sur­face area where wa­ter and dirt cling, which helps the wa­ter and other con­tam­i­nants run right off. It hap­pens at a level that can’t be seen, but the ef­fects are def­i­nitely no­tice­able, and sim­ply re­pels the types of con­tam­i­nants that would make it need to be cleaned, such as wa­ter and oil.

Nis­san says that its wa­ter-re­pel­lent prop­er­ties will also pre­vent snow, ice and frost build-up by main­tain­ing a layer of air be­tween the top of the paint’s sur­face and what­ever touches it – and Nano Labs says that its nan­otech­nol­ogy ap­proach yields a less ex­pen­sive prod­uct than other coat­ings that rely on sur­face ten­sion.

Many of you will re­mem­ber that this isn’t Nis­san’s first foray into spe­cial paint – a few years ago the com­pany in­tro­duced self-heal­ing paint on some its cars. The paint re­mains pli­able – not fully dry, but not so wet it comes off on your clothes – and if the car gets scratched, the paint flows into the scratch area.

Nis­san says it takes sev­eral years be­fore the paint loses it self-heal­ing prop­er­ties.

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