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Airbag inflators: go light, go green

May 1st, 2012 / By: / Markets, Products

When a vehicle crash triggers an airbag, the chemical reaction that inflates the bag blows out waste particles and gases. Autoliv Inc., Stockholm, Sweden, has found a better way to inflate airbags. Autoliv’s new inflator uses hydrogen and oxygen with inert gas to inflate the airbag, which produces water vapor when it deploys, a much better environmental outcome. The mixing of hydrogen and oxygen takes place in the airbag’s textile cushion, rather than in a traditional airbag’s steel vessel. The new inflator weighs approximately 20 percent less than its counterpart, reducing resource use and energy consumption. If the company increases hydrogen/oxygen airbags to a quarter of its total production, Autoliv could save an estimated 1,000 tons of steel each year. As for vehicle passengers, the lighter weight could save them an estimated two million gallons of fuel over the lifetime of the car.

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