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Hydrophobicity and why it takes your car into the future

Hydrophobicity? Although the name might sound like it, it’s not an underwater Hobbit city, nor is it a word for people that are afraid of water. But what is it then?

When something (such as a surface) is hydrophobic, it repels water. That means it barely absorbs any water – also known as the act of not getting wet. Some surfaces, like the leaves of lotus flowers, are naturally hydrophobic. Others, like your car, might need a bit more help.

This help can take the form of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, which are titanium dioxide molecules that are about 100th of the size of a human hair. When applied in a coating, the molecules are so close together that they make a marble-like surface that water droplets just roll off.

Pretty cool huh? But what can you use that for? And what’s the link to cars?

Will my car be both self-driving and self-cleaning?

While we might have to wait a bit for the self-driving car to be widely available, the self-cleaning car is already on a road near you. It just so happens that titanium dioxide nanoparticles coatings do not only make the body of your car hydrophobic, they also make it break down organic material (aka dirt). Long story short, titanium dioxide basically uses sunlight to power a tiny chemical reaction that breaks down organic material on the surface of the car.

And now for the big reveal.

Combine the effects of hydrophobicity and the breaking down of organic material, and you have a car coating that literally breaks down dirt and then let’s the rain wash it off, earning you less trips to the carwash. The disco stars of the 70’s might have told us that the carwash is a lot of fun, but to be honest that’s not really our experience now in 2016.

These coatings are not only for the people who insist on having shiny cars in which to cruise. They are also great if you’re not a fan of the body of your car corroding or slowly breaking down from UV light. On top of that, the coating also makes the few carwashes you do have to get a lot more effective. 

It might all sound pretty futuristic, but nano titanium dioxide coatings are available today and ready to make your life a lot easier. Unless you love the carwash, that is.

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