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Old 03-26-2007, 11:59 AM   #1
NYCshopper
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Default GM Achieves Technology Breakthrough with Smart Materials

GM Achieves Technology Breakthrough with Smart Materials

Press Release:
Quote:
Smart materials will enable vehicle features to move without motors

Improved aerodynamics and low weight reduce consumption

More than 175 US patents have been issued or are pending

Warren, Michigan. General Motors scientists at GM’s Research and Development Center in Warren, Michigan, have made a technological breakthrough in smart materials, which will be ready for series production in vehicles from as early as 2010. These shape memory alloys and polymers can change their shape, strength, and/or stiffness when heat, stress, a magnetic field or electrical voltage are introduced. This opens new possibilities for many movable vehicle features, as shape memory alloys, and polymers in particular, “remember” their original shape and can return to it.

“Smart materials will change the look and feel of our cars and trucks,” said Larry Burns, GM Vice President of Research & Development and Strategic Planning. “With these new materials, functionality can be ‘programmed in’ to enable innovative designs, improved efficiency, and new and improved features that will make our vehicles more exciting to own and operate than the automobiles of the past.”

Actuators and sensors made from these materials have the potential to improve vehicle performance, fuel economy, as well as enable new comfort and convenience features. These actuators and sensors can provide significant benefits when used to replace conventional motorized or hydraulic devices by reducing vehicle mass, component size and complexity, as well as improving design flexibility, functionality and reliability.

A few example applications include active vehicle surfaces, such as spoilers and air inlets that adjust to govern airflow; improved aerodynamics and performance; as well as hood, door latch and glove compartment releases for more convenient access.

According to Alan Taub, GM executive director of Research & Development, smart materials are building on previous materials advances GM has introduced over the last several years. “These new smart materials follow a long list of material applications we are already using,” said Alan Taub. “A few examples include novel aluminum forming processes that provide enhanced body panels and lightweight, polymer nanocomposites that provide superior mechanical properties at lower cost, and magnetorheological fluids for improved chassis systems.

“The properties inherent in shape memory alloys and polymers have the potential to be game-changers in the automotive advanced materials field, eventually leading to vehicle subsystems that can self-heal in the event of damage, or that can be designed to change color or appearance.”

Smart materials are being used in other industries in various applications including medical devices, mobile phone antennas, toys and sporting goods. GM is collaborating with HRL Laboratories and the University of Michigan in developing potential applications. To date, GM has more than 175 U.S. patents issued or pending based on research work and application development in the field of smart materials.
Examples:

Active Louvers Interpret and React to their EnvironmentOn-demand control of the airflow into the engine compartment uses a shape memory alloy-activated louver system. Reducing the cooling airflow into the engine compartment reduces aerodynamic drag. The result is improved aerodynamics and drag reduction and rapid warm-up during cold starts.



&

Smart“ Air Dam Knows when to ActivateAir dams, which are important to reducing aerodynamic drag at highway speeds are frequently damaged by low-speed impacts with parking bumpers, ramps and snow and ice. The „active“ air dam, activated by shape memory alloy, can monitor vehicle speed, the use of 4-wheel drive and the presence of snow to intuitively lower or raise the dam to optimize aero drag.


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Old 03-26-2007, 12:03 PM   #2
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Active aerodynamics making it's way into production cars. Very cool.

I wonder how long it will be before race cars are allowed to have active aerodynamics?
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Old 03-26-2007, 12:04 PM   #3
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Cool!
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Old 03-27-2007, 12:28 AM   #4
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Super Pursuit Mode
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Old 03-27-2007, 12:57 AM   #5
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Isn't that same thing as an automatic spoiler in some cars?
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Old 03-27-2007, 01:07 AM   #6
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It will be interesting to see if these materials become literally the wave of the future or if they will only be useful as more of a gimmick item.

The potential these could have for airplanes (screw cars) could be huge.
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Old 03-27-2007, 01:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaw169 View Post
The potential these could have for airplanes (screw cars) could be huge.
I think the aero industry thought of that already with spoilers and flaps which increase drag/lift.
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Old 03-27-2007, 04:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thejaredhuang View Post
I think the aero industry thought of that already with spoilers and flaps which increase drag/lift.
the difference in this case is the use of shape memory alloy
therefore it is more than just moving a flap or extended something..but completely transforming the shape from flat to twisted, or curved to jagged....whatever you want
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Old 03-27-2007, 05:38 PM   #9
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I wonder what 20 below will do...
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Old 03-27-2007, 06:27 PM   #10
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I've been trying hard all day to think of applications for this that are more than just a gimmick, and aside from that grille, I've got nothing... And really the tech to do that grill has been in the thermostat of every car on the road for at least the last 50 years.

The magnetoferrofluid in the struts is nice, but that has also been around for a few years, just not put into production except in a couple rare exampes, because traditional struts are very cheap to build and work well enough for 95% of applications.

Frankly, I'd be a lot more interested in hearing they had got the cost of carbon fiber down to a few dollars a pound, and had a revolutionary new way to form it that was cost-competitive with, and as fast as stamping steel... The weight of vehicles HAS to come down (without compromising safety).
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Old 03-27-2007, 06:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedyHAM View Post
Active aerodynamics making it's way into production cars. Very cool.

I wonder how long it will be before race cars are allowed to have active aerodynamics?
Most sanctioning bodies banned movable aero elements in the late 60's or early 70's for safety reasons.
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