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Volvo Cars uses sun simulators to lower interior emissions



During the development of a new vehicle, engineers at Volvo Car Corporation subject prototypes to intense sun lamps, designed to bring the vehicle's interior temperature up to 65-degrees Celsius in an effort to measure emissions from interior components. At such high temperatures, many interior materials can release harmful emissions, but Volvo Cars minimizes the emissions by carefully selecting textiles and materials that are free of compounds that would aggravate allergies.


With no international standards for in-vehicle air quality, Volvo Cars created its own requirements as part of its commitment to holistic safety research.


"Interior trim materials are not approved for use in our vehicle interiors until they pass our strict tests", explains Patrik Libander, responsible for interior material tests at Volvo Cars.


To fulfil the Volvo Cars requirements, all interior textiles are certified to the international Oeko-Tex standard, requiring they be free of metals or substances known to pose a risk to the health of people with allergies. Other interior materials, components and systems also have to pass strict tests both at the Volvo Cars Material Laboratory and in the labs of the company's suppliers.


Volvo Cars has a strict limit for Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC), as high levels in interior components released into the air could result in an unpleasant smell, cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, and could trigger asthma. Aldehydes are limited, especially formaldehyde, as they're known to cause both contact and respiratory allergies.


As the release of emissions from interior materials is accelerated at high temperatures, Volvo Cars material experts use a sunshine simulator at the Swedish Testing and Research Institute.  The vehicle is parked under the hot lamps until the interior reaches temperature of 65-degrees Celsius - as it would after a day parked in the sun. Emissions of TVOCs and aldehydes are measured from air samples to evaluate emission levels. Also, the Volvo Cars Nose Team members sit in the hot vehicle and evaluate the interior smell on a fixed scale. Volvo Cars has conducted sun simulation tests since 2000.


"Sun simulation test results are a major part of the test results reported to the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association to get their approval and recommendation for the air in our models. Altogether four Volvo models are recommended by the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association, the S80, V70, XC70 and our latest newcomer, the XC60", concludes Libander.


Volvo Cars of Canada Corp. is part of the Volvo Car Corporation of Göteborg, Sweden.  The company provides marketing, sales, parts, service, technology and training support to the 42 Volvo automobile retailers across the country.  The company's product range includes the stylish and sporty C30, the elegant C70 hardtop convertible, the compact S40 sedan, the S60 sport sedan, the S80 flagship sedan, the versatile V50 wagon and the award-winning XC90 sport utility vehicle. For 2008, the company is introducing two all-new models: the redesigned V70 wagon and the capable and comfortable XC70.


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