Air Bags

Almost every individual has been accompanied by an airbag. Have you ever wondered just how these bags of air can protect you from the most devastating car wreck? First, the air bag is made out of nylon fabric that has a sensor that tells it when exactly to inflate. Well when is it supposed to inflate, and how does it do so? Well the sensor detects a collision force up to 15 miles an hour and that is when it then inflates. The inflation process then occurs. During this process sodium azide (NaN3) and potassium nitrate (KNO3) create a large sum of nitrogen gas which practically explodes out of the different parts of the car. Then immediately after it already starts deflating through holes so the passenger can make it safely out of the car. This is simple chemistry believe it or not! Car producers are using gas laws to equip their cars with air bags. A current heats up the chemicals causing a chemical reaction. As the temperature increases, the particles begin to move faster just like with any other gas. As the particles move faster the volume increases which inflates the bag. This can also be shown on the PHET simulation worksheet we did in class. Air bags used simple chemistry to help save millions of people’s lives that are involved in automobile accidents. What will science lead us to next? 

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Sources: 

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-driving-safety/safety-regulatory-devices/question130.htm

http://www.chemistry.wustl.edu/~edudev/LabTutorials/Airbags/airbags.html

Class Notes

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