GM Ventures invests in nano-structured steel alloys company NanoSteel; potential for light-weighting
6 August 2012
General Motors Ventures LLC has invested in NanoSteel Company, a developer of proprietary nano-structured steel material. GM Ventures joined lead shareholders EnerTech Capital and Fairhaven Capital Partners and five existing investors to complete the Series C financing round. Terms of the GM Ventures investment were not disclosed.
Through the development of patented alloys, NanoSteel has created a new class of steel that allows automotive engineers and designers to reduce weight through the use of thinner, higher strength gauges while maintaining the structural integrity needed for safety. The new advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) offer exceptional combinations of strength and ductility for automotive structures, with measured strength/elongation performance of 950 MPa/35%, 1200 MPa/30% and 1600 MPa/15% respectively.
These paradigm changing performance levels are enabled by new discoveries related to the formation of nano-scale microstructures (‘nano-structures’). Previously, sheet steel made of nano-structures was considered too brittle (no elongation) to form the shapes required for automotive parts. In contrast, NanoSteel’s materials are based on newly discovered mechanisms to form nano-structures during production which eliminate the cause of this brittleness.—Daniel Branagan, Ph.D., CTO and founder of NanoSteel
One of the challenges with currently available AHSS materials is the need to form parts at elevated temperatures—increasing cost and production cycle times. NanoSteel eliminates this extra processing, as the material’s inherent ductility allows the forming of component parts using room temperature metal stamping processes on existing manufacturing equipment, known as cold forming.
The NanoSteel design is an alternative to other light-weighting materials which may cost more, require new investment in parts production and have performance limitations.
We are investing in NanoSteel because of the opportunity associated with their new steel alloy technology. 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.—Jon Lauckner, GM’s chief technology officer, vice president of Global R&D and president of GM Ventures LLC
Over its ten-year history, NanoSteel has created progressive generations of iron-based alloys from surface coatings to monolithic steel. For the oil & gas, mining and power industries, NanoSteel has successfully introduced commercial applications of metallic coatings to prolong service lifetime in the most extreme industrial environments.
For the automotive industry, NanoSteel has achieved a significant breakthrough in the development of nano-structured sheet steel with exceptional strength and ductility.
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