Stockholm, Sweden – A new, more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective airbag inflator has gone into production. Autoliv Inc., a manufacturer of automotive safety systems, said the new system also reduces the inflator’s weight by 20 per cent compared to most inflators.

The new inflator went into production earlier this year, in a passenger-side airbag for an unnamed European premium vehicle manufacturer.

Instead of pyrotechnic substances, the new inflator uses hydrogen and oxygen with inert gas to inflate the airbag. As a result, there are no waste particles from the combustion and no effluent gases, not even carbon dioxide. The only side product is regular vapour, which becomes a few drops of pure water when cooled.

In addition, the hydrogen and oxygen mixing takes place in the textile cushion of the airbag, instead of in a steel container as in traditional inflators. This allows for a thinner and lighter container, and reduces weight and costs.

Autoliv said that due to the reduced materials and weight, the company could save 1,000 tons of steel each year if only a quarter of its production converted to the new technology.

The new inflator, called APG (Autoliv Passenger-inflator Gas) will be primarily used in front passenger airbags, which require more gas than other airbags in a vehicle. The next step of the technology is to develop a dual-stage version that can adjust the gas flow according to crash severity and other parameters, which will be done using two independent ignitors and varying the time lapse a few milliseconds between ignitions.

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