Chameleon paint for cars in the offing
A car paint that changes colour according to the daylight is being developed in Germany.Updated: Sep 22, 2005 11:32 IST
Car paint that changes colour and glows red or another bright tint at dusk or in fog is under development in laboratories.
However, it could take another 10 to 15 years before the chameleon paint appears on regular-production cars, said Philipp Oechsner, chief executive of the FPL research institute on pigments and coatings.
The idea is that the car becomes safer because it is more visible when the light gets low or a certain temperature sets in, explained Peter Becker, who heads the German paint industry federation VdL.
"Our scientists aim to give German paint a competitive advantage worldwide," he said.
The colour-shifting paint was just one of a series of high-tech ideas unveiled by the 4.5-billion-euro ($5.5-billion) per year German industry and its main research institute Wednesday.
Gone are the days when paint was just there to stop rust and look pretty, according to Becker.
Another idea is to paint cars, ships and aircraft with a sandpaper-like surface similar to the skin of a shark.
Research shows sharkskin actually slides through water better and, if sharks could fly, would also be more aerodynamic than smooth, polished skin. That raises hopes that vehicles with the rougher coating would need less energy to move and ultimately save fuel.
Another future technology mentioned by Becker: electrically conductive paint. The idea behind this is that if metal parts on an aircraft were to crack, so would the paint. Instruments monitoring the paint would set off warning lights in the cockpit.
While that paint is far in the future, the industry has already begun producing super-hard automotive coatings that resist scratches from car-keys and the knives of vandals.
Another of tomorrow's coatings, according to Oechsner, is paint that cleans itself. Antiseptic paint, for example, is highly desirable in hospitals: germs land on the paint, and die.
He said he expected room paints to be available in two to five years that neutralize tar deposited by cigarettes instead of turning yellow. They will contain pigments that react with the tar.
Similar paints for restaurants will contain pigments that neutralize food odours, so that an eatery always smells fresh, not of old food.
He said the industry was also well on the way to making anti-graffiti paint: one wipe, and the sprayed-on writing vanishes.