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Nissan’s Self-Cleaning Car

Nissan has already tried to bring us the self-driving car.  Now the Japanese manufacturer is trialling another innovation that may spell the end of spending Saturday morning out there in the driveway with the chamois leather and buckets of soapy water. Yes, Nissan has unveiled the prototype self-cleaning car.

The self-cleaning property of these Nissans is thanks to the paint finish, so, in theory, it can be applied to any vehicle.  Nissan’s paint boffins have worked with a company from Florida to develop the new paint, with the company from Florida having already put in the hard yards for developing self-cleaning this and that.

The paint finish uses a patented substance called Ultra-Ever Dry. This stuff has chemical and physical properties that make it “super-hydrophobic”. This sounds like it’s something to do with mad dogs with rabies but “hydrophobic” in a chemical sense means that this stuff absolutely hates water. It repels water. This means that water doesn’t cling to it and it just rolls off like… like water off a duck’s back but even more so.

car-washWhat has this got to do with self-cleaning and how is it better than the wax we already put on our cars? Well, water just can’t settle on the surface and neither can anything that contains water. This includes mud, which always contains water. The same applies to bird crap and most other things that get splashed onto cars (including wet concrete, according to the manufacturers). Thanks to the fancy paint finish, all these water-based things just roll off and don’t linger on the paint.  Ultra-Ever Dry also repels some oils as well, meaning that the majority of oil-based substances won’t stick on the paint either.

They have put this finish through its paces. This sort of torture test involved driving through a whole bunch of mud puddles of various consistencies at various speeds and seeing if the mud stuck or not.  In the promo video created by Nissan Europe, you can see mud the consistency of porridge being splattered onto the car. It sticks on the half without the finish but just rolls off the half with the finish (watch it here). You won’t see it in the clip but they also put it through rain, snow, frost and sleet with the same effect.

The finish does more than just keep paint looking good. It also helps protect against rust and corrosion, which nearly always involves water lingering on the metal.

It is possible that the self-cleaning paint finish will be available as an option on some Nissans in the future, although the Nissan Europe clip mentioned above seems to suggest that it may be standard on some new models.

However, even with the self-cleaning paint, the days of soapy water may not be totally at an end. The manufacturers of Ultra-Ever Dry state very clearly that their product can’t be used on glass, especially not car windscreen glass, as it doesn’t dry clear. So we’ll still need to wash the windows.

Ultratech, the people who make the Ultra-Ever Dry, have more information about their and some more video clips  showing what you can make their product do. It’s not just for cars – it’s got a lot of potential.

Those who aren’t into Nissans needn’t despair. It is possible to buy a paint protector containing Ultra-Ever Dry that you can apply to your car but it is not cheap. It’s also not clear if the distributors of this product ship to Australia at the moment.