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Airbags will become even safer


Russian scientists are successfully developing smokeless gunpowder for automobile airbags, under ISTC Project #1882. This powder combusts almost instantaneously at the most important moment, but the airbag will fill with a gas that is harmless to the passenger, not like known compositions today.

The Russian scientists, from the Institute of Chemical Physics RAS, propose to make car safety airbags even safer. Their theoretical and practical investigations have established of which compounds the powder, to combust at the moment of impact in an accident, should be comprised, so that the airbags fill instantly with gases that are harmless to humans and the environment.

“Despite the fact that the vehicles of well-respected car manufacturers have long since been equipped with safety airbags, the gas-generating compositions for them remain far from perfect,” says one of the project authors, Candidate of Chemical Science David Lempert. “The problem is that the requirements of these compositions are incredibly strict, numerous and at times difficult to make compatible.”

The multiplicity of these requirements did not discourage the scientists. This is no surprise; the specialists from the Institute of Chemical Physics RAS have unique experience in the creation of regular powders and solid rocket fuels. To begin with they calculated theoretically from the atoms of which elements and in which groups of interconnected atoms the powder should comprise, to satisfy the main requirements. It became clear that atoms of just four elements should form the basis: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen. A computer program, developed by the authors for mathematical modeling of the powder compositions, produced a number of potentially suitable structures. Some have already been synthesized and tested; others still await synthesis and testing.

However, the researchers are not limiting their attention to the development of a smokeless and non-toxic chemical composition for safety airbags. They have also devised how to form the charge in such a way so that it combusts in fractions of a second. Verified experiments confirm that they have succeeded in increasing the velocity of the charge combustion by several times. Thus, the “inflatable protection” under the new recipe as developed by the Russian scientists, works faster and more reliably than the traditional solution. And, although the passenger or driver will not have to spend much time in the vehicle in case of an accident, smoke and toxic gases from the airbag will cause them no harm – there simply will not be any.

Olga Myznikova | alfa
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