Automotive Defogging Rebooted: Technological Advancements Keep Triggering Future Innovations

Material innovations will be the key for OEMs in developing defogger systems.

Clear visibility of the road is paramount for driver’s safety, and also for other cars and pedestrians in the vicinity. However, dense condensation, frost, and ice could disrupt a driver’s visibility of the road ahead, rather significantly. Automakers are increasing deployment of defogger systems in cars—specifically in Europe and North America, where climatic conditions could turn severe with heavy snowfall during winters.

Used for clearing the frost and fog, most modern day cars are equipped with OEM primary and secondary automotive defogger systems. However, automotive defogger system sales through aftermarket channel is also likely to present lucrative opportunities for manufacturers—specifically those providing portable defogging systems, considering growing consumer interest in preventive maintenance to keep the vehicles running longer. Application of advanced intelligent sensors in automotive defogger systems among other innovations, will push the sales in the coming years.

Technological Advancements Driving Adoption of Automotive Defogger Systems

A recently developed ‘dynamic frosting’ technology has been designed using a water-repellant aluminum surface that would trap millions of tiny air pockets present under the sheet of frost. The idea is to make the droplets highly mobile upon melting. The researchers behind the dynamic frosting technology are exploring the nanostructured superhydrophobic surface and self-healing superhydrophobic coatings in this regard.

Automotive OEMs largely rely on material innovations used for developing automotive defoggers—delivering in convenience, performance, and reliability. For instance, German automaker Volkswagen found a solution to develop effective automotive defoggers by installing an extremely thin layer of electrically conductive invisible silver within the laminated glass. This wafer-thin layer can take a current of up to 500 watts, contributing to faster automotive defogging. Similarly, DuPont also offers a wide range of silver-based thick film pastes for automotive defogger systems, offering lower laydown and improved chemical resistance.

Thermal anemometer, also called Hot Wire Anemometer are being increasingly used in modern-day vehicles for accurately measuring the automotive defogger systems’ airflow—required to maintain clear visibility. The ‘Thermal Imaging’ concept has also attracted much attention from manufacturers of automotive defogger systems considering its ability to enhance driver’s safety through detecting infrared radiations that in turn, produced images of the obstructing object in front of the windshield.

Manufacturers of automotive defogger systems are also exploring time-specific defoggers systems in cars to prevent overheating and minimize power usage. Luxury car manufacturer Audi in its RS7 model has deployed the time-based defogger system that automatically turns off after 15 minutes of continuous use.

Growing Demand for Second Generation HVAC Leading the way for Automotive Defogger Systems

Automotive defogger systems use the ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to either humidify or warm the fog or ice-over glass. HVAC systems in cars have become increasingly important, also referred to as ‘primary’ automotive defogger systems, owing to the constant air conditioning needs in the car and growing demand for better vehicular environmental comfort.

Moreover, the widespread usage of start/stop systems and the growing number of electric cars with a focus on further reducing the noise emission from AC systems, would mean increased adoption of HVAC systems—translating into a far greater utility of automotive defogger systems.

Changing climatic conditions—affecting the battery life and run time—will have consumers demanding more efficient and powerful heating and cooling systems in their vehicles—specifically in fully electric cars that has a significant amount of heat produced by Internal Combustion Engines (ICE).

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