Watch Takata's Defective Airbags Explode in Slow Motion | Techno stream

Watch Takata’s Defective Airbags Explode in Slow Motion

23 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Investigation Into Takata Airbag Problems Now Expanding.

Yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it has expanded its investigation into defective Takata airbags that have prompted the recall of more than 19 million vehicles manufactured by 12 automakers. People whose cars have been recalled to fix air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. should get the repairs done as soon as possible or face the risk of death or injury, U.S. safety regulators said Thursday.BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Federal regulators are considering taking over the largest auto recall in U.S. history to speed up the repair of defective airbags. The airbags—as you can see in this dramatic video shown during yesterday’s briefing—sometimes explode instead of inflate, showering passengers with potentially deadly shards of plastic and metal. It said was also examining all model years, not just older inflaters, for defects that could cause the airbags to rupture violently and spew metal fragments at vehicle occupants.

So far, the recall has affected millions of front seat airbags, but now, new concerns over an ammonium nitrate compound used in the airbag inflators could call into question the safety of millions more. The number of recalled cars stood closer to 8 million one year ago, but the investigation continues to pull in more airbags and potentially affected vehicles. Originally, regulators focused on driver and front passenger airbags, but they now will investigate side airbags and newer cars that weren’t included in the first pass. The progress is “simply not good enough to address the risk these vehicles pose to the driving public,” said Jennifer Timian, head of NHTSA’s recall management division. “NHTSA is considering a number of steps under the authority Congress has given us that could accelerate repairs and ensure that the inflators that present the greatest safety risk get replaced first,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. And while Takata has been conducting its own investigation of the root causes of its airbag failures, regulators have hired research organizations like Battelle—which filmed the video above of one of its airbag tests—to develop their own analytics.

But officials say, so far, less than a quarter of recalled inflators have been replaced nationwide–in part, because there aren’t enough replacement parts available. “We want to be able to give them answers. Battelle in particular is working on large lot tests—procedures that allow it to test dozens of airbags in rapid succession, instead of one-off tests like the one above. “With such a catastrophic potential for failure, the only option is to test a large number of inflators,” says Ben Pierce, who runs Battelle’s transportation research group. And last weekend, General Motors recalled almost 400 cars in the United States after Takata informed the automaker that side airbags in those vehicles had failed in tests. “These have all been brought under the current investigation,” Mark R. And it’s been frustrating because it’s been hard for us to do that in certain circumstances,” said Peter Kitzmiller, Maryland Automobile Dealers Association.

Built of concrete, its domed structure has foot-thick walls to shield workers during airbag inflations and other high-energy tests, from examining hydrogen fuel tanks to analyzing ballistics. “We put rack after rack after rack of inflators in there and set them off one at a time,” says Pierce. “It’s loud: You can feel it, you can hear it. Drivers are urged to check to see if their vehicle is on the recall list and contact your car manufacturer right away to get those repairs done quickly and for free.

Of the 12 automakers with Takata-made airbags, only Chrysler gave an estimate — 25,000 vehicles — but it was limited to those with inflaters similar to the ones in the VW and G.M. cars in question. That domed blast chamber is outfitted with pressure sensors and slow-motion cameras, and every inflator Battelle tests gets a CT scan before ignition. That CT scan is perhaps most likely to reveal information about the defective inflators. “The way an airbag works,” Pierce explains, “is there’s a charge that builds pressure, and it launches the airbag out.” That charge is a small wafer of ammonium nitrate, and it’s not supposed to be explosive—it’s simply supposed to expand rapidly as a gas, propelling the airbag out. But in a certain proportion of Takata’s airbags, “there’s some reason that that explosive charge, instead of launching it normally, it ruptures the metal wall of the container that’s holding the charge,” says Pierce, creating hazardous shards just a foot or two from passengers. Officials at the agency said that they still had not determined the root cause of the explosions, but they suggested that the ruptures were most likely related to the ammonium nitrate that Takata used to inflate its airbag. “We believe that the reason these inflaters are malfunctioning in this way has something to do with the type of propellant Takata is using and how Takata engineers it,” said Stephen A.

Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create an explosion that inflates air bags, but it can deteriorate over time, especially when exposed to moist air. Patents filed by Takata show that its engineers have been aware of the potentially dangerous effects of moisture and volatile temperatures on ammonium nitrate for almost two decades and have long struggled to stabilize the compound. On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that, in 2010, as Takata and Honda assured regulators that the airbag explosions were linked to isolated manufacturing issues, they were also enlisting the help of a top pyrotechnic lab at Pennsylvania State University to determine whether ammonium nitrate might have been at the heart of the problem. But Rosekind said it’s better to get repairs made as quickly as possible. ”It’s equally important that they come in both for the interim fix and for final repairs.

Frank Borris, director of the agency’s Office of Defects Investigation, said that federal investigators’ understanding of the nature and scope of the defect had evolved. “For several years, we believed that manufacturing errors caused the ruptures,” he said. “We no longer believe that to be true. That could simply be because there is always someone sitting in the driver’s seat, or it could be because the airbag inflater is located in the steering wheel, close to the driver, he said.

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