The automotive industry is the biggest industry in the world. Some quick facts:
- Approximately 99 million motor vehicles are produced per year (source: European Automobile Manufacturers Association)
- The worlds largest car-producing countries are China, Japan, Germany, India and South Korea (2017)
- There is a large discrepancy in the average annual distance traveled by car between countries. In the US, this figure is around 21,500 km/year. In Europe, the average is 12000 km/year (source: Odyssee)
- On average, a car has 30,000 parts (Source: Netstar)
A lot of people commute to work and travel on the holidays by car. I do as well. I use my car every day as I commute to work but I did not realize that flow meters have been used to produce our cars. Inspired by that realization, I discovered that Bronkhorst flow meters play a role in a lot of applications in the automotive industry. Here are 3 interesting applications of flow meters in the automotive industry:
Accurate dosing of release agent
In its automotive department, a major company manufactures ‘skin’ that covers a car’s dashboard to give it a ‘leather look’. This skin is produced by spraying liquid, coloured polyurethane into a nickel mould. To allow easy skin release from the mould without any damage, an external release agent has to be applied onto the mould surface prior to spraying the polyurethane. Bronkhorst was requested to supply a suitable mass flow controller in order to dose this release agent.
Valve seat testing:
Valve manufacturers check any metal-to-valve seats using pressure degradation methods. Since the new generation of car engines are running on higher pressures, the manufacturers are in need of new methods for leak testing to keep up with customer needs. Recently, Bronkhorst has been successfully involved with manufacturers of valves and valve seat testing machines to implement low-flow measurement as an alternative method for better performance.
Simulation of exhaust gas to test lambda probe:
Each modern car with a combustion engine has a self-controlling way to optimize engine performance. A lambda probe, a sensor positioned in the exhaust section of the car, measures the oxygen content of the car exhaust gases. This oxygen content, the ‘lambda value’ is a measure for the effectiveness of the combustion process in a car’s engine. The research department of a car producer needs to test the performance of these lambda probes with several exhaust gas compositions. To this end, they built an artificial exhaust line in which they do not use real exhaust gas but stimulate the composition of car exhaust gases. They asked Bronkhorst to deliver mass flow controllers for this purpose.
Renewable Energy in the Automotive Industry
Next to these applications at car manufacturers (or suppliers to the automotive industry), Bronkhorst instruments are also used by universities that join competitions or are doing research, looking into renewable fuel sources or the automotive industry. For example, Green Team Twente is trying to build the most efficient hydrogen car.
Another renewable energy source being researched is formic acid (Hydrozine). Bronkhorst thermal mass flow meters play a role in the process of generating this renewable fuel.