Pine tree-shaped air fresheners may become a thing of the past as researchers work on an interior car coating designed to fend off the stinky build-up of microorganisms.
Ford Motor Company
|A team of researchers is testing a coating to fend off bacteria in car interiors.|
A research team at Ford Motor and the University of Michigan is studying the use of new silver-ion additives to make the car company’s future vehicles cleaner.
What’s That Smell?
Ford Research and Innovation Center engineers and the University of Michigan’s microbial ecologist, Dr. Blaise Boles, worked together to develop interior coating formulations that could resist microbial growth. But first, they had to find what parts of a vehicle’s interior were most inviting for microorganism build-up.
After swabbing several locations, the researchers found the highest concentrations of bacteria growth on the steering wheel and the area around the cupholders.
“Our findings suggest car interiors are complex ecosystems that house trillions of diverse microorganisms interacting with each other, with humans, and with their environment,” said Boles, whose research areas of interest include “elucidating how bacteria colonize, persist on, and disperse from relevant biological surfaces.”
|The silver-ion additive is said to work 24/7 to resist the growth of microbes.|
He added, “The long-term goal is to define the microbial ecology of the car interior and to optimize the design of car interiors to promote comfort and environmental sustainability.”
Starve, Sterilize, Suffocate
After testing several compounds, including ammonium salt and polyolefin wax, the researchers found that a silver-ion additive was the best at slowing or stopping microbial growth.
When infused into a coating or paint, the silver ions, which go by the trade name Agion, keep microorganisms from reproducing by “starving, sterilizing, and suffocating” them on contact.
Even after simulating years of use in the lab, Ford engineers found that the silver-ion coating lost little of its microbe-resistant powers.
The silver-ion antimicrobial technology works 24/7 to resist the growth of microbes, making products cleaner and longer-lasting, according to Agion.
Ford has started to put the Agion-infused coating on interior car parts and testing it in real-world conditions using developmental vehicles.