The pandemic, as we know it, has changed the way we live. And for car manufacturers, the lessons learned have also changed the way they develop vehicles to the point where the cars themselves will soon be able to “self-disinfect”.

Nissan collaborated with Tohoku University's Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to jointly develop a technology that inactivates viruses using catalyst active species for aerobic oxidation. In simpler words, the manufacturer has developed a radical catalyst that allows a material to possess antibacterial and anti-viral properties.

The technology was proven to inactivate viruses – including the novel coronavirus, as well as pathogens such as fungi and bacteria. Basically, the radical catalyst breaks down the surface proteins of the virus, which prevents its ability to bind to target cells and cause an infection.

In a way, this is different from the N95 cabin filtration systems we see in the latest cars these days. Whereas the cabin filtration systems trap particles and act as a barrier, the catalyst Nissan is developing essentially neutralizes the viruses and pathogens that will come in contact with the treated surface.

Nissan says the technology has the potential for wide-range automotive and non-automotive applications in the future, as it can be used as a base material for aircon filters and air purifiers, as well as masks and other medical products. Furthermore, the radical catalyst can also be added to the base materials of automotive paints and those used in vehicle interiors.

With this, Nissan may be on its way to introducing another meaning to a “cleaner” environment.

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