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Heat-activated “smart material” debuts in new Corvette

Chevy has revealed its intentions to incorporate heat-activated "smart materials" into the 2014 Corvette. They are starting small, using a shape memory alloy wire that opens the hatch vent whenever the deck lid is opened in the rear of the car. Basically, heat from an electrical current activates the small wire, which moves a lever arm to open the vent, allowing the trunk lid to close. Once closed, the current switches off, and returns to its original shape.This replaces a conventional motorized system that weighs approximately 499 grams more.

While it sounds like a small change to the overall weight of the car, Chevy points out that "there are about 200 motorized movable parts on the typical vehicle that could be replaced with lightweight smart materials." A pound here and a pound there can add up to some serious weight reduction, which can improve performance and fuel economy going forward.

Shape memory alloys are typically made of copper-aluminum-nickel or nickel-titanium, and are able to change their properties when activated by heat, stress, a magnetic field, or electrical voltage. Once deactivated, they return to their original shape. It's easy to imagine other places where these materials could replace larger, heavier components.

Source: gizmag.comAdded: 15 February 2013