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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.

Auto_industry_AHSS_target
NanoSteel_new_class_of_AHSS_big
The automotive industry has identified a future generation of Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS) materials for lightweighting vehicles across all lines, with an availability target of 2017-2025 for integration into vehicle structural designs and production. Click to enlarge.   NanoSteel’s new AHSS sheet designs are the first to arrive inside the automotive industry’s desired material target. NanoSteel’s designs belongs to a new class of cold formable steels with combinations of strength and ductility properties outside known material boundaries. Click to enlarge.

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.

August 6, 2012 in Manufacturing, Materials, Weight reduction | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

There 1001 ways to make vehicles much lighter. This may be one of them. Future BEVs require lighter vehicle bodies and equipment to extend e-range without increasing battery size and cost..

@Harvey,
Lightweighting benefits all vehicle types, not just BEVs.
Let's hope "they" go and do it (and can afford to do it).

It is probably cheaper than using Aluminium or carbon fibre.

One of the drawbacks of most carbon fiber materials is that they are not recyclable at present, and dioxin (cancer causing) when burned.

True environmentalists should want materials that are fully recyclable for sustainability; and steel based autos are now approaching 95% recycled.

My friend works for a city that is pilot testing an arc-plasma incineration technology that supposedly burns so hot it turns everthing into elements (no molocules, just atoms). Mostly this releases syngas (which is burned to power the process) and slag. It seems to me, with the right recycling technology, almost anything should be recyclable...maybe even economically.

You are basically right mahonj. However, extended range electrified vehicles would benefit the most due to the weight and very high cost of batteries. ICEVs already have plenty of power and long range.

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