Volvo uses sun simulation to ensure low interior emissions in cars
February 23, 2009 - Sweden
All new models are verified as if they were parked in Mediterranean sun, to measure the interior emissions in 65º Centigrade. In this temperature, normally, interior materials would release harmful emissions. But Volvo has minimised harmful emissions in the car interior, by using allergy-friendly textiles and carefully chosen materials.
There are no societal standards for in-car air, so Volvo Cars has created its own in-car air quality requirements that are used when developing new Volvo models.
To fulfil the Volvo requirements, all interior textiles are Oeko-Tex certified, and other interior materials, components and systems have to pass strict tests both at the suppliers' and at Volvo Cars Material Laboratory. "Interior trim materials are not approved for use in our car interiors until they pass our strict tests", explains Patrik Libander, responsible for interior material tests at Volvo Cars.
The Volvo standard has a low limit for TVOCs (Total Volatile Organic Compounds), as high levels in interior air would result in smell and cause headaches, nausea and dizziness, and could trigger asthma. Aldehydes are limited as they, especially formaldehyde, can cause both contact and respiratory allergies.
As emissions are released from the interior materials at high temperatures, Volvo Cars material experts use a sunshine simulator at the Swedish Testing and Research Institute to verify low interior emissions in a new car model. The car is parked under the hot sun lamps, until the interior reaches temperature of 65º Centigrade - as it would after a day parked in sun.
Analysing air samples, emissions of TVOCs (Total Volatile Organic Compounds) and aldehydes are measured, to verify the emission levels. Also, the Volvo Car Nose Team members sit in the sun heated car compartment and evaluate the interior smell on a fixed scale.
Volvo 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 car 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 Patrik Libander.