Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Cause of Takata Air Bag Explosions

Takata Air Bags
Automotive scientists hired by the industry have determined that multiple factors — including moisture and high humidity — can cause some Takata air bags to inflate with too much force and hurl shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

The Independent Testing Coalition, which has been investigating the cause for the past year, announced its findings last 23 February.

Air bags made by Japan's Takata Corp. have caused at least 10 deaths and 139 injuries worldwide. Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion and inflate the air bags in a crash.

The Virginia rocket science company Orbital ATK, which was hired by the coalition, determined that three factors, working together, can cause the air bags to explode with too much force. Using "phase-stabilized" ammonium nitrate without a moisture-absorbing substance — as Takata does — increases the risk of an explosion after long-term exposure to high temperatures and moisture. Orbital ATK also found that Takata's inflator assembly doesn't adequately prevent moisture from intruding in very humid conditions.

The coalition said its findings apply to around 23 million of the 28 million Takata air bag inflators that have been recalled by the U.S. government. All of those air bags use phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate without a drying agent.

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