"Any color you like, as long as it's black"... This famous quote, referring to Henry Ford's "Tin Lizzy", illustrates how popular the world's first assembly-line made car was - and how little choice drivers had when buying one. A century later, a revolutionary new paramagnetic auto paint process is about to make that old quote even quainter.
One of the first automakers to express interest in the new technology is Nissan, and although the Japanese manufacturer has no firm plans to introduce color-changing paint on its models any time soon, it could be available as early as the year 2010 if current projections pan out.
The system works like this: the vehicle's standard galvanized sheet steel body panels are painted with a special polymer coating embedded with superparamagnetic iron oxide particles.
When a low-grade magnetic field is applied to the coating, the tiny iron oxide crystals adjust their spacing and by doing so, change the way light is reflected to the viewer's eye. Dialing in varying levels of magnetic field strength essentially causes the color of the paint to change in a controlled manner. Since the magnetic field must be maintained constantly in order for the color-changing effect to work, it's ideal for automotive applications. Turn off the car and the paint color reverts back to its natural white.
Are we ready for paramagnetic paint, though? Potential problems include trying to find your car in a mall parking lot filled with white cars, confusing police who chase a red car under a bridge only to see a red car emerge, and trying to fill out vehicle registration or insurance papers... but hey, we learned to deal with non-black cars back in the 'teens so dealing with color-changing cars should be a breeze! (via Next Energy News, images via Jamaipanese)
Japanese Innovations Writer