​How will Nanotechnology Affect The Future of Transportation?

​How will Nanotechnology Affect The Future of Transportation?

Nanomaterials are materials that are so tiny in size that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. However, their properties and characteristics enable them to exhibit applications in various fields. Nanotechnology is playing its role in increasing the efficacy of transportation by allowing different ways and means through which transportation can flourish and provide benefits to the industries as well as the said field.

These are an excellent source of hyping up the productivity of nanomaterials which with the help of nanotechnology, pave way for greater future achievements.


The materials with one of its dimensions below nm are nanomaterials. They are those that are present on a nanometric scale. These nanomaterials show amazing physical and optical characteristics, for instance, conductivity, or uniformity, increasing the demand for these nanoparticles in biological and scientific fields. Ordinary microscopes can't see nanomaterials as they are very small, however these materials can be seen by using an electron microscope. In nature, the occurrence of these materials is at a great scale and scientists are often attracted towards them for studying them in numerous scientific fields like chemistry, physics, geology, and biology.

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Their presence is at the transition between the molecular or atomic structures and the bulk materials and due to this, a phenomenon is observed by them which is not observed at any of the scales. A great function was performed by nanomaterials in atmospheric pollution and they are a 

much-needed ingredient in some of the industrial products like magnetic particles, metals, plastics, paints, and ceramics. Many biological, meteorological, cosmological, and geological processes have been done for producing nanomaterials naturally. The interplanetary dust is falling on the

Earth is a remarkable fraction at thousands of tons per year rate in the nanomaterial range and the same is the situation for the atmospheric dust particles.

Nanostructured Materials

Due to their remarkable physical and mechanical characteristics, these 1 - 100 nm of nanostructured materials are very famous. All of it is due to the size which they hold as it is the same as the grain's size and possesses a high fraction too. Recent researches propose an extremely progressive change in various scenarios for synthesizing nano-scale materials. At first, everyone’s main focus was to synthesize nanomaterials, however now their main focus is to synthesize nanomaterials for the production of more beneficial structures from the synthesized nanomaterials, as coatings possess excellent corrosion and wear resistance so it is very beneficial in this field.

Properties of Nanomaterials

Various remarkable chemical and physical characteristics are possessed by the nanomaterials. Chemical, optical, and electrical characteristics are very distinctive of each other and in the form of bulks. In comparison with their characteristics when they are larger, their characteristics are hardly identifiable when materials are in nano size, including both the physical and chemical characteristics. A combination of particular chemicals may alter these material's characteristics.

Some of this material's basic characteristics are that they possess an inner structure, has surface characteristics and has a definite shape with an almost fixed size. These nanomaterials show amazing physical and optical characteristics, for instance, conductivity, or uniformity, increasing the demand for these nanoparticles in biological and scientific fields. The confrontation of nanomaterials is done as emulsions (liquids in liquids), suspensions (solids in liquids), or aerosols (liquids or solids in the air).

Nanotechnology and Transportation

There have been extensive applications of nanotechnology recently in the transportation vehicles industry for improving the performance of the vehicle and bringing novel functionalities. As compared to the application of conventional materials, if nanomaterials are applied in vehicles then they can offer better durability performance along with better strength. New tools or methods are offered by nanotechnologies to control or modify these material's characteristics and structures for attaining better performance. If you need specific durability and safety of the vehicles like marines, aerospace, and automobile, then nanomaterials are a great choice as they can improve vehicle safety because of their specific characteristics.

There has been an increase in the usage of various nanocoatings and nanomaterials for manufacturing efficient and cost-effective vehicles. In the transportation industry, coatings are the largest portion of 

applications of nanotechnology which if the nanomaterials are optimally selected, they can improve those coating’s sustainability considerably. Creating sustainable and safe transportation vehicles around the world is one of the primary objectives of nanotechnology’s application.

Modern Transportation

If nanofluids, scratch-resistant paints, lightweight nanomaterials, and other nanotechnologies are not applied then we can't imagine the new smart, efficient, and high-speed vehicles in modern transportation. Although, according to various studies, there are some potential issues in applying nanomaterials, for instance, exposure or toxicity that can negatively affect environmental health and living organisms. We need a management system and a particular framework for lessening these risks.

Nanomaterials should be classified based on their toxicity and exposure, and developing an efficient and effective regulatory scheme can be an effective strategy for doing that classification. However, one can adapt to the systematic management system for coming in between the toxic nanomaterials from getting applied as well as for suggesting the utilization of the applications of environmentally friendly nanomaterials in real-world, lessening nanotechnology's environmental risks around the world in future developments.

Various Application Topics

There have been identifications of various topics in the areas of nanotechnology applications in transportation vehicles viewpoint. According to some latest literature reviews, there are numerous potential advantages of applying nanotechnology in transportation vehicles. Although, there are some concerns regarding safety and the environment which directly relate to the applications of nanotechnology. There are very few comprehensive studies on the applications of nanotechnology in the transportation vehicles industry. Moreover, no detailed study included nanotechnology's overall application regarding safety, health, and environmental concerns in vehicles (aerospace, marine vehicles, and automobiles).

This article is for filling this gap in studies, by studying the details of nanotechnology's applications and associated environmental concerns in transportation. This study's main purpose is to provide a recent report on nanotechnology's application in transportation vehicles, which will give beneficial details on them for environment-friendly and sustainable nanomaterials in near future. According to this and many studies, adapting environmentally friendly and sustainable nanomaterials can give long-term advantages shortly in vehicles.

Nanotechnology Applications in Transportation Vehicles

There are various benefits of applying nanotechnology in transportation, for instance, for improving the automobile's durability and strength over a longer time. You can apply nanotechnology on any of the following body parts of the automobile, engines, windows, tires, chassis, etc., for improving their durability and performance. Although there are some environmental and health risks linked to nanotechnology's application in transportation and they need immediate attention.

Thus, there are two parts to this review study. In the first part, applications of nanotechnology in the vehicles are presented whereas in the second part, nanotechnology-associated EHS concerns are identified. This study can be a guideline for adopting sustainable and safer nanomaterials in the future in the vehicle industry. Following are the details of the applications of nanotechnology in vehicles.

Potential Applications

In transportation vehicles, there are endless potential applications of nanotechnology. New ways are provided by the production and design of nanodevices, nanostructures, and nanomaterials to develop sustainable vehicles. Nanotechnology protects against abrasion and is corrosion-resistant for automobile bodies. Due to this, the authors searched a factor that has a much larger influence for a longer time on the performance of transportation vehicles. Factors like more efficient materials and lighter weight nanotechnology have high demand and high impact for more sustainable and safer vehicles in the future around the world but the selection should be of cost-effective, smart, and environmentally friendly nanomaterials.

Optimization of Nanotechnology

It includes nanotechnology’s optimization for lighter weight, nanomaterial’s optimization for self-healing and self-cleaning, and high resolution and high sensing equipment. Although, the other two segments can have a high impact with moderate demand in the industry of transportation for improving the efficiency of nanotechnology. Other important aspects are the optimization of nanocomposite insulation and the selection of multifunctional nanomaterials as they can have a high impact on making the transportation systems more durable and safer in the future. Also, environment-friendly nanomaterials are more in demand in transportation since they will have more impact on creating a more sustainable and reliable environment around the world in the nano-industry.

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Nanotechnology Applications in the Automotive Industry

You can incorporate nanotechnology in numerous automobile parts like windows, mirrors, tires, fuel cells, and batteries, and it can improve the performance of current technologies in the automobile industry. There are many benefits of the applications of nanotechnology in automobiles, some of which include providing stronger and lighter body parts (for improving fuel efficiency and safety), attaining a better performance for a long time, enhancing fuel consumption efficiency.

Effective and Efficient Nano-Based Coatings for Automobiles

Scratch resistance and protection of automotive bodies can be improved by coating them with nanoparticles, it is an efficient practice. Also, over a longer period, it provides durability and enhances the appearance. In general, the coating's outermost layer has a thickness from 5-50 µm, and it usually improves the scratch resistance as it is responsible to protect the underlying layers against the weather conditions outside. Vehicles are regularly exposed to weather conditions that can be extreme and causes cracks and scratches on the body surfaces of the vehicles. Nano-based coatings on those vehicles are an effective strategy for protecting the outer surfaces of those vehicles in weather conditions exactly like that.

Upgrading Level of Scratch and Friction

According to various researchers, nanoparticles can be incorporated in polymer coatings to upgrade the level of friction and scratch resistance to wear due to the nanoparticles in the coating layers as they enhance the hardness of vehicles, protecting them from abrasion, wear, and cracking. Studies revealed that nano-SiO2 addition in the polymer coating can improve the scratch and abrasion resistance, strength, and hardness. Also, other nanoparticles like TiO2, Al2O3, ZnO, ZrO2, and SiC are the other nanoparticles that are utilized to enhancing the characteristics of the coating.

Performance of the unmodified epoxy-polyurethane coating and epoxy-polyurethane coatings modified with alumina or silica nanoparticles was evaluated by Kotnarowska et al. over three years. According to the results, as compared to the other two coatings, modified epoxy-polyurethane coatings showed higher erosive wear resistance, and according to research, over the time interval, nanoparticles in the coating layer suppresses the development of cracks by filling the pores.

Self-repairing Coatings

In addition, we adapt the self-repairing coatings for increasing these metal's anti-corrosive characteristics. The main aim of traditional coatings is the protection and prevention of the surface from corrosion. Although, after a certain time, there comes a degrade in the performance of the coating. Application corrosion inhibitors are an efficient method under these circumstances for making an active coating when they are exposed to corrosive electrolytes. In corrosive electrolytes, these corrosive agents are soluble, protecting the surface of the metal through a passivation process.

For this purpose, mixed inhibitors, anodic inhibitors, and cathodic inhibitors are utilized. Transportation of air or water into the nanomaterial coating can damage the passive coating layer in the case of osmotic pressure. An agent can be released by modern coatings with inhibitors in the coating matrix.

Nanotechnology for Lightweight and Higher Strength Automobile Bodies

Automobiles can be made more sustainable, durable, and safer by incorporating nanotechnology in the automotive industry. Nanotechnology applications have many benefits. One of the best benefits is the attainment of materials that have higher strength and are lighter. There could be a tremendous decrease in fuel consumption as a result of the reduction in the weight of automobiles. Moreover, it aids in enhancing the reduction of CO2 emissions in urban areas. Fuel efficiency, along with vehicle reliability will be provided over a long period by new modified green lightweight materials for vehicles.

Overall Cost

If suitable nanomaterials are selected in the industry of automobiles then the vehicle's total cost can be lessened as the cost has a direct relation with the reduction in the weight of the vehicle. Also, if more cheap nanomaterials are selected at the production stage, then the cost can be lesser. Higher thermal and lightweight characteristics are possessed by the clay nanocomposites with TiO2, Si, Al, Mg, polyamide (PA) nanomaterials, and carbon nanotubes (CNTs), improving the durability and strength of the automobiles over a long time.

Enhancement of Passenger Safety

Steel of higher strength is now being used for vehicles for improving the safety of the passenger in case of accidents. Although, recasting steel of high strength in the cold state is tough due to a change in size and the spring-back effects. Such adversities can be avoided with the help of recasting at a higher temperature around 1000 °C. Nanotechnology coatings can be implemented for recasting the steel at higher temperatures. Aluminum particles joined with bonded and connected plastic-like materials and nano-sized vitreous are utilized recently for forming multifunctional coatings for this purpose.

Vehicles will be provided with higher safety and strength by this process during their real-world operation. Crash protection, along with a smoother and faster ride will be provided by the lighter-weight vehicles, helping in sustainable and safe vehicle operation on the road.

Safer and Secure Mirrors and Windows

The security and safety of the vehicles can be improved by using the ultra-thin reflective layer of aluminum oxide with less than 100 nm of thickness on the vehicle's glass. It is an interesting approach. When driving during the night and day driving time, applying ultra-thin reflective mirrors on the vehicles will considerably decrease the discomfort during driving, for instance, light's glare from the coming vehicles and sunlight. Water and dirt repellant features are provided to the mirror surface by aluminum oxide's ultra-thin layer. CVD (chemical vapor deposition) technique is used to prepare these so-called oleophobic and hydrophobic-nanometer-thick layers and it is very beneficial for improving safety in the automobile industry.

Efficient and Durable Nano-based Tires

Advanced nanomaterial-based tires need to be adopted for ensuring that these automobiles will operate safely. The cover composition typically determines the performance of the tire, so the tire cover's rubber composition has a considerable effect on the tire's long-term performance overall. The safety of the car on the road can be improved by proper rubber composition. A positive effect can be seen on tires' durability and safety on adding appropriate nanoparticles in the rubber composites.

Wear resistance can be improved over time by the addition of nano-Al2O3 in the rubber composite according to the studies. Another revelation was that the wear rate was tremendously improved up to 800% on nano-Al2O3 (2.5%) with carbon black, therefore improving the durability and safety of the tires in a real application. Although, right now, effective nanomaterials are needed for improving the tire's performance over a long time.

Nanotechnology for an Efficient Engine

Nowadays a major concern regarding environmentally friendly technology in the transportation industry is reducing pollutants emissions from the engines. A coating of aluminum nanomaterials can be utilized for this purpose for lessening the friction of the cylinder walls. An experiment was conducted by adding aluminum oxide nanoparticles at numerous temperatures. According to its results, thermal conductivity was enhanced on the addition of nanomaterial to 4.5% and 4.2% at 50 C and 30 C temperatures. Moreover, Al2O3 nanoparticles were maximum of 1.5 vol% during the operation. According to another experiment, the engine's heat exchange efficiency increased with the increased concentration of Al2O3 nanoparticles. It also showed that the engine's cooling effect will be improved on the improvement of the concentration of Al2O3 nanoparticles.

Nanotechnology Applications for a Safer Indoor Environment in Vehicles

In order to lessen numerous microbial and bacterial diseases, careful attention for a clean and safer environment inside the automobile is required and it is possible if we choose environmentally friendly nano-agents like copper, titania nanotubes, liposomes loaded with nanoparticles, silver, titanium oxide, gold. A healthier environment can be effectively provided inside the automobiles by the above-mentioned nanoparticles. For instance, silver and gold nanoparticle-based antimicrobial agents are biocidal. The interaction between the positively charged biocide and the microorganism's negatively charged cell membrane usually destroys the microorganisms.

Antibacterial Agents

Novel filters covered with nanofibers can help in automobile's high-quality interior air quality. Also, according to various studies, nanomaterials can function as flame retardant agents for improving the safety of occupants in case an accident happens. Chances of fire in the automobile can be reduced by using silver nanomaterials and CNTs as a filler in automobile fabrics as their incorporation can make them less ignitable. Thus, nanomaterials can be applied to the interior of automobiles but only through careful consideration.

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Nanotechnology Applications in Marine Transportation

In the sea, one major issue is the corrosion of ships because a high level of salinity is possessed by the seawater and that results in the corrosion of the ships. The ship's performance is also affected by erosion and the ship's bottom fouling after some time. Using nanotechnology for building a ship can be very beneficial for enhancing the performance of the ship over a long time. In the ships industry, nanotechnology's potential applications are in structural health monitoring, biofouling, andcorrosion-resistant coatings.

Nano-Based Coatings for Corrosion and Bio-Fouling

Ship turbines can be adversely affected by corrosion and bio-fouling. Handling bio-fouling on the turbine is extremely difficult because of the constant movement of ships in the seawater. A coating was recently considered for preventing the ship's corrosion in seawater. Coating's wear resistance can be enhanced by carbon nanotubes according to Keshi et al.


Nanotechnology is making transportation well known and easier for not only the people availing through it but also the industry itself as it enhances the mechanics and working principles to speed up the growth process. It is indeed very beneficial for the transportation industries throughout the world as it promotes safety and encourages more production and usage.

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11th Aug 2021 Emilia Coldwell

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