Cutting pounds while making cars safer and stronger is a pursuit of all auto companies. Creative uses of aluminum alloys and exotic materials like carbon fiber help reduce weight and increase fuel economy and/or performance.
But both aluminum and carbon fiber are expensive. Steel has been around for centuries, and technological advancements have made it stronger, cheaper and lighter. But, argues David Paratore, president and CEO of NanoSteel, current steel technology is pushing the limits of what it can do. Harder steel is difficult to form into automotive parts. But easier-to-form steel is, by nature, less rigid.
Paratore's company has developed a new steel they claim is stronger yet easier to form than conventional automotive steel. The new alloy can be made using conventional steel processes and no new welding techniques or machines are needed. On top of all that, NanoSteel claims big weight-saving advantages. "We're not talking about saving grams. We're talking about saving kilograms," Paratore says in the video below. "Maybe hundreds of pounds in a car."
Its enough of a breakthrough that it has gotten the attention and investment of General Motors and its investment subsidiary, GM Ventures. "We are investing in NanoSteel because of the opportunity associated with their new steel alloy technology," says Jon Lauckner, GM's Chief Technology Officer, Vice President of Global R&D and President of GM Ventures LLC. "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."
Terms of the investment (including monetary amounts and exclusivity rights) were not disclosed. For a quick synopsis of what NanoSteel's product is and does, watch the video below. The official press release from GM and NanoSteel is also below.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The NanoSteel® Company, a leader in nano-structured steel materials design, today announced that General Motors Ventures LLC has invested in the company.
GM Ventures, a General Motors subsidiary created to invest in promising automotive technologies, 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.
"We are investing in NanoSteel because of the opportunity associated with their new steel alloy technology," said Jon Lauckner, GM's chief technology officer, vice president of Global R&D and president of GM Ventures LLC. "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."
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. NanoSteel's new steel design is an alternative to other light-weighting materials which may cost more, require new investment in parts production and have performance limitations.
"GM Ventures investment in NanoSteel demonstrates its confidence in our company's potential to achieve widespread impact on the auto industry through our proprietary steel designs," said Dave Paratore, president and CEO of NanoSteel. "With the support of General Motors' automotive expertise and technology leadership, we can accelerate the final phases of development of our nano-structured AHSS in the quest to economically lightweight vehicles."
Reducing vehicle weight is critical to automakers in achieving higher fuel efficiencies and meeting rigorous new U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.
NanoSteel is the world leader in proprietary nano-structured steel material designs. 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. NanoSteel is a privately held company funded by lead shareholders EnerTech and Fairhaven Capital. For more information, visit www.nanosteelco.com or follow us on Twitter @NanoSteelCo.
About General Motors Ventures
General Motors Ventures, LLC, is a subsidiary designed to help the company identify and develop innovative technologies in the automotive/transportation sector. General Motors Ventures has been funded with an initial investment of $100 million, and is currently exploring equity investments in a number of auto-related technologies and business models. More information can be found at www.gmventures.com.