Measuring emissions in automotive interiors

Paul Boughton

Automotive expert offers optimal support for Asian customers wanting to measure interior emissions. By Dr Roland Freudenmann

Benecke-Kaliko is able to provide optimal support to Asian customers in measuring emissions in automotive interiors. To ensure this, the specialist in decorative automotive interior materials tasked its labs with analysing the bag measuring method commonly used in Asia and examining the factors that influence the results. By developing relevant specifications and a uniform test configuration, it is now also possible to achieve comparable results using this method.

As a valued partner to the automotive industry, Benecke-Kaliko is committed to innovative and sustainable products. One important issue in this regard relates to the lowest possible emissions in a vehicle’s interior that can be measured with different methods. When the requirement is to determine both the VOC emissions and the aldehyde/ketone emissions from the plastic materials in a vehicle, the Asian automotive industry in particular very often resorts to bag methods. That is because, compared with the VDA method, the bag method is less expensive since the test equipment – the bags and the oven – are significantly cheaper than the test cabinet for VDA 276.

Whereas, for example, the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) test requires the pollutant concentrations to be measured in a test cabinet, in Asia the samples are usually packaged in bags and then heated in an oven. The pollutant concentration in the bag is then measured. However, it is difficult to obtain comparable test results because all the carmakers have their own individual test specifications for the bag method, which differ to a greater or lesser extent from the ISO 12219-2 standard.

Benecke-Kaliko has analysed the different specifications with regard to their influence on the result. This involved specifically varying test conditions such as sample preconditioning, oven temperature, oven dwell time, sample size and fill volume of the test bag.

Summarising the results

In the main, the same qualitative results are obtained, ie the same substances are identified. However, the situation is different when it comes to the quantitative results, ie the pollutant concentration: These results vary greatly, depending on the different test conditions.

Benecke-Kaliko’s analysis showed that the preparation of the samples has the biggest influence. The divergence here can be as much as 2,000%. The second parameter that has a highly significant effect on the result is the oven temperature. The VOC emissions rise by 1,000% and the aldehyde emissions by 300% if an oven temperature of 80°C is specified instead of 60°C.

The tempering period of, for instance, two hours also has to be accurately observed, because the emissions results change substantially with varying times. A variation from oven to oven with different heating characteristics is therefore also to be expected. Changes in the fill volume and different removal rates had little or no effect in Benecke-Kaliko’s labs: increasing the sample size from 8cm by 10cm to 10cm by 10cm has only a minor effect on the quantitative difference in emissions.

Although sample conditioning has the greatest influence on the measurement result with the bag method, it is not defined at all or is only approximately defined in some specifications. But without a definition as in the VDA 278 method – “Seal promptly after production, condition at room temperature in the test institute for seven days, then test” – very sizable scatter is to be expected with all the bag methods. A common specification of, for example, seven days at room temperature would therefore be an important prerequisite for obtaining reproducible results.

Now that an appropriate test configuration has been developed and key factors defined, Benecke-Kaliko is able to help its Asian customers achieve meaningful results. In addition, the company is able to enhance the air quality in automotive interiors thanks to its innovative products such as the low-emission Acella Eco.

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Dr Roland Freudenmann is global head of laboratories at Benecke-Kaliko

Automotive appeal of Intermach

Intermach 2016 will be held from May11-14 at BITEC, Bangkok, Thailand. The event is one of the longest running and most successful industrial machinery and subcontracting exhibitions in the ASEAN region. It has long been considered a must-exhibit event for manufacturers of industrial machinery and equipment. Today the exhibition brings together serious global buyers and decision-makers under one roof where they can inspect or acquire new industrial machinery to increase their competitive edge – especially with items that require precision accuracy. The event is attended by over 40,000 quality trade visitors from 46 countries.

As ASEAN’s Automotive Hub and the largest manufacturing base for the industry, Thailand offers a potential sales market and an attractive sourcing base. Thailand will continue as the regional manufacturing hub over the next five years, driven by positive factors such as the second phase of the Eco-Car Scheme and the Electric Vehicle program. Supporting Thai industries will also benefit from the Eco Car program, especially the growing industry of auto-parts outsourcing.

Automakers are expected to use many locally produced components in the manufacture of new vehicles. A recent International Energy Agency report said global sales volume of electric vehicles (EVs) could reach 6 million vehicles by 2020, up from 113,000 in 2012.

The Thai Ministry of Energy plans to give its full support in promoting Thailand as an EV production hub within the next five years. An increase in the sales of EVs at home will attract car manufacturers to use Thailand as their production base.