Audi A3: Material Technology’s chemical laboratory
In Material Technology’s chemical laboratory, all types of materials (oils, greases, operating materials, polymers, metals), components and entire vehicles can be studied by a wide array of analytical methods.
In all vehicle projects, the analysis team is involved early in the development process. The laboratory supports Technical Development in selecting materials, especially with regard to such aspects as processing, emissions, hazardous materials and aging behavior over the product’s life. Material types often need to be optimized, because when geometries are modified, this can result in manufacturing parameters exceeding a material’s functional limitations.
In other cases, materials selected for interior vehicle parts may emit vapors that emit unpleasant odors or potentially hazardous chemical substances, which would render a material unfit for use in the interior. Even emissions of noncritical materials may prevent the use of certain materials, because they emit components that are deposited on the windows as a tough, visible layer – also known as fogging.
To analyze these substances, the parts are stored in a heated chamber at a defined temperature and air humidity, and air samples are then taken from the chamber and analyzed by a wide variety of qualitative and quantitative methods (including mass spectrometry, gas chromatography and liquid chromatography).
Development projects for transmissions and engines are supported by special operating material analyses, which are able to characterize the properties of a material as well as its wear and thermal decomposition behaviors.
Metallurgical analysis helps to explain such issues as part wear. If metal components are exhibiting unusual wear behavior, the reasons may lie in the alloy composition. A precise determination of the composition can be made by combusting material samples in plasma gas and conducting a spectral analysis of the resulting flame; the findings can either confirm or reject a material cause.
What appears to be an incomprehensible chemical labyrinth to the lay person is indeed a highly complex yet clearly defined field to experts at Quality Assurance. In their work, they ensure that materials with problematic components or questionable reliability do not make their way into vehicles.
The equipment, data, and prices specified refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.
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