takata’s switch to cheaper airbag propellant is at center of crisis
At the time, Paresh Khandhadia, an engineer at the company, announced in an interview with a trade magazine that it was \"a new technological advantage \".
Based on a compound called Tetrazole, it is considered to be a reliable and effective compound for inflatable airbags.
However, despite the fanfare, by 2001, Takada had turned to an alternative formula, ammonium nitrate, and began sending airbags to automakers, including Honda.
According to experts, the compound is highly sensitive to temperature changes and moisture and breaks down over time.
Experts say it burns violently when it breaks down.
\"It should not be used for airbags,\" said Paul Worsey, an expert in explosion engineering at the University of Missouri Science and Technology.
He said the compound is more suitable for large-scale demolition in mining and construction.
\"But it\'s cheap, it\'s very cheap,\" he added . \"
More than a decade later, the compound became the center of the Takata and its airbag security crisis.
There are more than 14 million vehicles in Takada.
The manufactured airbags were recalled worldwide for fear that they would explode violently when the accident unfolded, causing metal debris to fly into the cabin.
The defective airbag killed at least 5 people.
On Thursday, Takada\'s decision to change the propellant is expected to become one of the Senate Business Committee\'s questions, which is investigating Takada\'s defective airbags.
Gao Tian\'s spokesman, Albi Berman, said the switch to ammoniumnitrate-
Cost-based considerations do not drive the propellant.
Instead, the company\'s engineers believe the compound can produce gas more efficiently with less emissions.
\"This breakthrough allows us to make the smallest and lightest inflatable unit and significantly improve the safety of manufacturing,\" he said. Berman said.
Two former Takada engineers said they and other employees were concerned about switching to this dangerous compound.
\"This is a fundamental design flaw that can cause this propellant to break and potentially lead to a catastrophic failure of the inflator,\" Mark Lillie said . \" A former senior engineer working at the propellant plant in Lake Wash. Mr.
Lily recently shared his concerns with Senate staff.
\"This is a question: will the ammonium nitrate propellant not explode?
Michael Britton says he is a chemical engineer.
Lily of the West Lake factory.
\"The answer is that if it stays at the right stage, it won\'t.
\"Takada will attend the hearing of shimshi Shimizu, senior vice president of global quality assurance at the company.
The representative of Chrysler and Honda, as well as the victim Stephanie eldeman, will also join him.
David Friedman, deputy director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will also attend.
Takada\'s struggle with propellant dates back to 1991, when Tokyo-
S. -based suppliers first started manufacturing airbag inflators.
Like other airbag manufacturers at the time, Takata based its airbag propellant on a toxic compound called sodium nitrate.
But this compound is volatile, and when the airbag is deployed, it releases toxic smoke to the car, causing chemical burns or breathing problems.
Takada then turned to siozole as a safer and greener alternative, which at the time promoted the company to automakers.
Takada introduced this propellant sold as an \"environmental agent\" to the car manufacturer
Inclusion in 1998-1990-model vehicles. “I said, ‘Wow!
This is the rest time! ’ ” Mr.
Khandhadia, Takada\'s chief propellant engineer, told the industry publication Automotive News at the time, describing the moment when the test showed that the new propellant was working.
However, the limited number of expensive Tetrazole began to squeeze the profits of Takada, especially as the competition in the airbag market became more and more fierce, Mr. TakadaLillie said.
He said that in 1999 of the time, Gao Tian researchers in Michigan developed an ammonium nitrate-based propellant under the pressure of senior executives.
But the engineering team at the moxihu plant raised objections to putting the propellant based on this dangerous compound.
In support of its case, the panel noted that the explosives manual warned that the compound \"tends to break up in storage with a large temperature change\" and produces \"irregular ballistic\" consequencesLillie said.
Ammonium nitrate cycles through five solid states.
Experts say that as the vehicle moves from receiving the heat of the Sun to the cold of the night, the temperature swings large enough to allow the ammonium to change from one stage to another.
Ammonium nitrate can also easily absorb moisture from the atmosphere.
Experts say these two things are added together, making it easy to damage ammonium nitrate tablets.
One focus in the mushrooming recall is that airbags are more prone to malfunction in high humidity areas.
\"In general, ammonium may be unstable.
Its crystal structure can vary depending on temperature, \"said Katsumi Kato, assistant professor of safety engineering at Fukuoka University in Japan.
\"This changed the burn rate.
It can cause all kinds of faults.
\"Other airbag manufacturers say they are away from explosive compounds.
\"We have made another choice for the propellant we produce,\" said Thomas Johnson, spokesman for the Swedish automobile company.
American car safety product manufacturers said in an email.
A key safety system for another airbag manufacturer says it uses nitrate and Tetrazole-
Experts say this is less risky and more durable than ammonium nitrate
In its inflator.
Experts say TRW Automotive, a large supplier of safety components based in Michigan, also uses a nitrate-based propellant, although airbag manufacturers have not responded to a request for confirmation.
Nevertheless, at Takata, the answer at the time was to try to stabilize ammonium nitrate to mitigate these cyclic effects, but there is a limit on how far ammonium nitrate can stabilize, Mr. said.
Vosey, an expert in explosives.
The question of Takata propellant raised the question of whether the recall should be limited to wet areas.
However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Tuesday it would urge automakers to expand recalls of certain driver-side airbags, previously limited to states and regions with higher humidity.
Gao Tian said that ammonium nitrate will continue to be used when replacing the airbag.
In addition to the Senate hearings, Takada is facing more and more legal challenges.
Takata said this month that it had received a subpoena from a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York about the defective documents.
The company confirmed that it hired Andrew levande
A well-known New York-based defense lawyer prepares for criminal investigation.