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Science Technology

Ford, Boeing and NU Form Nanotech Alliance 84

spoonyfork wrote to mention an article detailing a collaboration between Ford, Boeing and Northwestern to research how nanotechnology can improve car and plane design. From the article: "Ford hopes the alliance will help it build more fuel-efficient cars and engines that are more durable because they run cooler. The research also will focus on designing vehicles that run on alternative energy sources, such as hydrogen and electricity. Nanotechnology should allow batteries for hybrid vehicles that produce more energy while weighing less and taking up less space, Stevens said. CEO Bill Ford Jr. recently said half of the company's models will have hybrid capabilities by 2010. By making batteries and other components smaller, it opens up space for more features that consumers want in their vehicles, Stevens said. Designers will be forced to make fewer compromises when choosing materials and amenities."
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Ford, Boeing and NU Form Nanotech Alliance

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 09, 2005 @05:26AM (#13749727)
    I was at a conference when Revlon was listed as in the top-5 nanotech companies in the world - apparently because they deal with fine poweders or something like that.

    Apparently Cuervo (yes, the tequila company) is one of the top plant biotech companies too, trying to speed up the lifecycle of whatever plant it is that makes tequila.

    With enough marketing, I suppose even Microsoft could be a nano-tech company - micro & nano both mean small, don't they?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Agreed. Just about any manufacturing company's calling themselves nanotech these days.

      I think we need a new term - say, picotech - with a strict definition "you know what every atom is doing". That way the real nanotech companies (single nanotube devices; but not bulk composites -- and molecular memory guys) could have a menaingful label; and all the chemists who think that the materials science label is so 90s can use nanotech without confusing anyone.

    • Tequila is made from agave, which often have a very slow life span. In some parts of the US a particular species is known as the "century plant."

      This has been your biology update from the town drunkard.

  • by opencity ( 582224 ) on Sunday October 09, 2005 @05:26AM (#13749729) Homepage
    My money's on NU as it would be hardest for them to go bankrupt.
    Ford deserves credit for at least making some effort.
    • my money is on the UN to stick their nose in, in a few years.
    • For all non-US readers, form deep down in their website:
      ( []

      Northwestern University is a private institution founded in 1851 to serve the Northwest Territory, an area that now includes the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota. In 1853 the founders purchased a 379-acre tract of land on the shore of Lake Michigan 12 miles north of Chicago. They established a campus and developed the land near it, naming the surrounding town Evanston in honor of
  • What!? (Score:2, Funny)

    by RobbieGee ( 827696 )
    As if the seats weren't small enough...
  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Sunday October 09, 2005 @05:32AM (#13749743) Homepage
    By making batteries and other components smaller, it opens up space for more features that consumers want in their vehicles

    Given the size of the typical US vehicle it has never struck me that space would be at a premium. Let us hope that this technology will be used to make smaller & more fuel efficient cars -- we all need to drive those to mitigate the causes of climate change -- especially cars made in the USA.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Let us hope that this technology will be used to make smaller & more fuel efficient cars

      Those cars exist already and are used in the other countries. For some reason the majority of the people in the US things that bigger car means bigger penis, so they buy bigger cars. Of course, one reason is the gasoline price. If the price would be higher, people might be more willing to buy cars that are more fuel efficient. I think that only way to get people to buy smaller cars is to add more taxes to fuel.
      • I would just like to add that many people who choose large vehicles are not choosing them because they equate it with manliness or some-such, but smaller vehicles can be more dangerous to be inside in the event of a car crash.
        • So if we could only take care of the fact that Americans, for the most part, drive like jack-asses (not that other countries are any better), we'd be all set. Also, I never was able to grasp the SUV philosophy of security-through-being-able-to-crush-the-shit-out- of-everyone-else-if-in-an-accident...
        • by arkhan_jg ( 618674 ) on Sunday October 09, 2005 @08:15AM (#13750029)
          One reason for that is because so many others are driving SUVs and light trucks. A car hit by a SUV is at greater risk of having fatalities than if it had been hit by a heavy car. It's the ride height and stiffness that makes SUVs more dangerous, not their weight.

          Incidentally, SUVs themselves are held to the lower safety standards of light trucks, not passenger cars. They don't have the same safety standards for their occupants as passenger cars for side impacts, and their bumpers are not as strong. There's also the the significant increased risk of rollovers.

          So buying an SUV or light truck not only puts other road-users at greater risk, it also puts the occupants at higher risk than if they'd bought a medium or large sized car.

          To be fair, there are uses for light trucks and SUVs, mainly out of cities. In urban areas, a large car does the same job, is safer all round, and gets better fuel efficiency. The tax and safety loopholes that SUVs get should be closed, as they are primarily passenger vehicles, not business light trucks.

        • And smaller cars are also less likely to be in an accident, due to better handling, braking, and rollover resistance.
    • by Balthisar ( 649688 ) on Sunday October 09, 2005 @09:18AM (#13750177) Homepage

      US cars made for the US market (oh, might I add Canada and Mexico in there, as well?) meet US tastes and demands. Yeah, that means big, old Expeditions and Crown Victorias and big, gas guzzling cars. It's not Ford et al's fault -- it's market driven.

      If you look at Ford products in Mexico, the UK, Europe, and Asia, you'll see that Ford builts and sells more small cars the world over than big SUV's and full size cars in the North American market.

      I'm currently working in Mexico launching an American market car. Down here when you ask for "full size" at the airport, they give you a Focus! I'm currently driving a Mondeo that my 6'2" frame barely fits into and while it's a perfectly safe care, it "feels" dangerously small when you're used to something the size of a Taurus or larger.

      Not too long ago, I was trying to find out some information about these Mondeos (they don't sell 'em in the US/Canada market). I read a review of Mondeos on a British site. The review exclaimed that among the good points were the cavernous amounts of space inside this absolutely huge vehicle. The principal bad point was the miserable gas mileage, at only 27mpg is was fuel hog!

      It just goes to show that perception among different markets is, obviously, different, and that you can't pigeonhole Ford into being nothing but a huge SUV maker. Remember, Toyota and Nissan sell into the USA/Canada/Mexico market, too, and they sell huge, behemouth trucks and SUV's, too! I'm betting you don't see many of those in Europe.

      • I'm afraid i will loose any chance of not being marked a troll for asking this, but i'll be brave and do it anyway .. take pitty on me mods :-)

        You speak of the US market, supply and demand and these are very good points, in the american mind puny european cars are just not 'cars', their toys that never feel 'safe' and just aint american enough. Europeans on the other hand think about things like 'gas is expensive', 'boy we polute a lot', 'wow taxes on huge cars are expensive' and the ever favorite 'how coul
        • Demand isn't shifting because Americans as a whole are selfish, arrogant, ignorant gluttons (i.e., 'fat, happy and stupid'). Lest this get modded as a troll, I'm an American.
        • Now the climate isn't changing its self, ...

          and why not? the climate has been changing itself for billions of years.. long before we were even here. So now that we are here, the Earth's temperature suddenly stopped changing by itself? We are the sole cause for the increase in temperature?

          Sorry if I don't take your work for it.

        • A couple of points.

          1. Looking at recent hurricanes says nothing about climate change, it says more about a cyclical nature of Atlantic Basin Tropical Storms.
          2. The climate might be changing itself, we see a marked increase in solar radiation and other bodies in the Solar System are warming at rates similar to Earth. Theres not near as much research into this as there is into human created climate change however for a number of political reasons.
          3. Kyoto wasn't as much about changing the climate as it was ab
        • Looking at recent huricanes one could say they are not becomming more frequent, but are becomming more powerfull .. one could argue that this could well be because the oceans are warming up, and warm water is the 'fuel' for a huricane, so a slightly warmer gulf of mexico directly equals stronger huricanes and more devistation.

          Come on, as an American you should know these Hurricanes are God's® revenge for that sinfull Democratic president y'all allowed to stay in the Whitehouse for 8 years!
          8 years, t

        • I think it's important to note that it's not just the US market. It's the "enlightened" Canadian market. It's the Mexican market. It's virtually all of the Latin American market. It's the entire New World. Let's include Australia in the New World, too, since they like their big cars and gas guzzlers, too.

          It's definitely not just a lazy, selfish, American attitude. You're talking about an entire continent. In fact, I'm a hard-working, generous, world-travelling American, and to me a small car is a Taurus and

          • I don't deny global warming, but I have faith in our ability to deal with it.

            That's the problem, Americans have too much faith and not enough reason. You say you care, but then act as if the problem will fix itself on its own. I don't know if there is any explanation for this viewpoint other than laziness and apathy. Faith never put food on anyone's table, and it sure as hell won't fix any environmental problems.

      • What means more to you from an environmentally friendliness perspective, A:) Good gas mileage, or B:) Tier II emmissions standards? It almost seems to me we are professing enlightenment, without understanding all that much in reality. Now, if you were to argue the "Emmissions per Mile" of a vehicle, and compare Europe, China, Mexico, the U.S. and other vehicle outputs, then I'd be far more inclined to think we were heading down the right path to an honest debate. Gas mileage, on the other hand, is often

        • Gah... stupid submit-next-to-the-preview button mistake...

          Should have looked like this:

          What means more to you from an environmentally friendliness perspective, A:) Good gas mileage, or B:) Tier II emmissions standards? It almost seems to me we are professing enlightenment, without understanding all that much in reality. Now, if you were to argue the "Emmissions per Mile" of a vehicle, and compare Europe, China, Mexico, the U.S. and other vehicle outputs, then I'd be far more inclined to think we were he

    • Climate change is irreversible. The polar caps have started melting and they are creating more water around them. This water will gather more sunlight energy and keep it for longer causing less ice to be formed every winter and more ice to be melted every summer. Driving smaller cars is our ignorant idea on how to stop the enormity of nature from doing something that she's been set to do. We just have to figure out a way to live with climate change.

      There was a darwin award for a lady that left her bus i
      • If we can't stop it, why try?

        Seriously, from your comment that it's irreversible, why should anyone change anything? Infact from that statement that "Climate change is irreversible", we should stop all fuel cell R&D, all fusion and pebble reactor R&D and throw that money into exploiting all the fossil fuels on Earth, all the coal, all the natural gas, methane clathrates, tar sand and oil shale.

        I took an undergraduate course on Global Climate change and I remember one student who was always going on
  • by 6pak ( 687010 ) on Sunday October 09, 2005 @05:36AM (#13749748)
    ...ask Matchbox to join in? They should have the obvious expertise!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I doubt this will do much for cars, because whatever they come up with will be too expensive. That's the same reason cars currently aren't being made out of titanium. If better mileage was all the car companies cared about, cars would get a few hundred mpg, but cost too much for most people to buy.
    • I doubt this will do much for cars, because whatever they come up with will be too expensive.

      Lets take a car example from a few years back - high strength low alloy steels. Just changing the way cheap and nasty steel was heat treated and formed gave large improvements and actually reduced costs - as well as giving us lighter cars.

      Modern cars dent easily, but that's a different story and a deliberate design feature where the car takes the damage to reduce the energy that reaches the occupants.

    • Dear AnonC.

      Climb out from whatever rock it is that you are living under and snap back to reality.

      Technolgy becomes cheaper over time, fact. Look at satelitte navigation, non-stick pans, mobile phones, memoflex glasses, broadband communications, it has to all start somewhere though. From value-tubes to the computer that you have now posted your post from, which I know has at least a million or more transistors in a chip.

      As for Titanium, it is costly due to not being widely available, the same reason gold and
      • by netwiz ( 33291 ) on Sunday October 09, 2005 @11:47AM (#13750742) Homepage
        As for Titanium, it is costly due to not being widely available, the same reason gold and platinum is costly. Titanium is also not the easiest of materials to work with. It is unbeleively strong that is it's biggest pro factor.

        Where to start? There's so much wrong here. One, titanium isn't expensive because it's rare; it's the ninth most common element in the earth's crust. You kind of got it right with the materials handling comment. Ti isn't easy to work with, and that's why it's expensive. It's strong, but only in particular ways. In fact, depending on what you're trying to do, cast iron can be a better material. It's very strong for it's weight, and when heated, maintains that strength almost all the way to it's melting point, making it a superior metal in high-temperature environments.
        • Just because it's the 9th most common element in the crust does not mean it exsists in deposits or forms that can be economically mined.

          It is widely distributed and occurs primarily in the minerals anatase, brookite, ilmenite, perovskite, rutile, titanite (sphene), as well in many iron ores. Of these minerals, only ilmenite and rutile have significant economic importance, yet even they are difficult to find in high concentrations.

          Thats the important part, the minerals with economic importance are hard to fi
      • Actually, automobile engines have become vastly more efficient thanks to things like computerized engine controls, port fuel injection, four-valve per cylinder combustion chambers, better spark plugs, and more recently variable valve timing. And it will get even better with the arrival of direct fuel injection and lean-burn combustion over the next few years.
  • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Sunday October 09, 2005 @06:26AM (#13749826)
    I, for one, welcome our tiny new overlords....
  • Ford and Boeing are in trouble. Makes me wonder whether these companies will even be relevant in a decade's time, when this technology is expected to be big. With competition from Airbus for Boeing and Ford having been replaced by Toyota, I doubt they will be strong participants in this field. Fact is, Airbus is now the largest airplane maker and not as many people want to buy Ford's vehicles.
  • Nanotech (Score:2, Insightful)

    by H0D_G ( 894033 )
    As a student in a nanotech degree, it brings warmth to my heart that I'll be able to get a job once I finish Uni. Whether the term nanotechnology will lose some of its stigma as "grey goo" will have ended by then is another question. and whether I'll be able to say nanotechnology without a chorus oh "huh?"s is a better question

Feel disillusioned? I've got some great new illusions, right here!