General Motors has invested an undisclosed amount in The NanoSteel Company because it claims the firm is a leader in light weight steel materials. Through the development of alloys with grain structures refined in the tiny 1 to 100 nanometer range, NanoSteel has created a new class of steel that – in theory – allows engineers to reduce weight with thinner, higher strength gauges while maintaining structural integrity for safety.
Fuel economy is directly a function of vehicle weight, and increasingly stringent global regulations means vehicles will need to go on a diet.
The new steel offers an alternative to other light weight materials, which may cost more, require new investment in parts production and have performance limitations. The privately held company is funded by lead shareholders EnerTech and Fairhaven Capital.
“Over the next several years, light-weighting of vehicles will be a major focus area to improve fuel economy. NanoSteel’s nano-structured alloys offer unique material characteristics that are not available today, making them a potential game-changer,” said Jon Lauckner, GM’s chief technology officer.
During its ten-year history, NanoSteel has created generations of iron-based alloys from surface coatings to monolithic sheet steel. For the oil, gas, mining, and power industries, NanoSteel has successfully introduced commercial applications of metallic coatings to prolong service lifetime.