More than 20 different types of materials are used in a fuel system.
Most of them are thermoplastics (HDPE, PA, POM, EVOH,..), but one also finds thermo sets (NBR, FKM,…) and metals (Aluminum, steel).
INERGY, as a major Tier 1 supplier, is conducting a permanent active tech watch for identifying new materials for optimizing its product performances and answering to the most advanced customer, market and legal demands.
As fuel tank is a vehicle safety part, materials used have to pass an exhaustive selection and validation process for checking their “fit for purpose” properties. This includes:
- Short and long term mechanical performances (tensile, impact…) at low, ambient and elevated temperature (tensile, impact at ambient & low temperatures)
- Chemical resistance (urea, salts,…)
- Fuel compatibility (gasoline, diesel, biofuels,…)
- Electrical properties (in case of ESD components)
The approval procedures are quite complex. They consist of 3 steps: after passing INERGY internal protocols (1), the candidate has to pass OEM’s specific material requirements (2). Finally, the component using the new substance has to be validated (3).
The whole process may take several years.
Numerical simulations being more often used in the development of new platforms, each material has to be characterized according to the model used. This ranges from high speed solicitations (e.g. crash test) to low time scales (creep behavior).
Therefore, INERGY has built a specific methodology to take into account all the specifics for fuel and SCR applications.
On the road to End of Life Recycling
Today end-of-life recycling aspects have to be considered. European legislation 2000/53 is targeting reuse/recycling ratio for EOL cars to 95% in 2015. Anticipating regulation, INERGY conducted between 1998 and 2001 a research program with several partners under a BRITE-EURAM program for assessing the feasibility of recycling HDPE (High Density Poly Ethylene) plastic fuel tanks disassembled from End of Life (EOL) cars. The main results achieved are:
1. The definition of a regeneration process, validated at a pilot scale, from car disassembling through reuse on new cars;
2. An economical analysis of the long term viability of the whole chain
3. A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) demonstrating the positive environmental impact versus alternatives like incineration or landfill.