Chem Connections

Airbag Demo

Below are some screenshots of MultiCHEM's "Airbags R Us" project. They were taken from a CD demonstrating a virtual airbag company in which students, as recently hired employees of this new startup company, are assigned tasks to address problems which arise in the development of airbags. These tasks are designed to introduce and instruct the student about chemical principles encountered in the first few weeks of an introductory chemistry course. In the airbag company, the student learns about the ideal gas law and its relevance to real world problems.

Gas Cylinder Laboratory

The Gas Cylinder Laboratory (GCL), allows students to test the effects of tank volume and pressure, as well as release nozzle size, on the inflation of an airbag. The system serves to illustrate the interplay between pressure and volume, and as an example of how an airbag system could work. The students are asked to design a system that is practical (based on design and toxicity constraints), produces the proper volume of gas, and inflates within 80-100 ms. This system is later compared to a solid chemical-based system.

Reaction Laboratory

The Reaction Laboratory gives students a chance to combine different types and amounts of chemicals in order to produce the correct volume of gas, at the right temperature and within 80-100ms to inflate an airbag. The students can control a variety of experimental parameters such as external temperature, pressure and reaction vessel material. The students can choose from a variety of reagents, some of which are actually used in a real airbag or are currently under consideration. The students then engage in a debate over which reactions are best suited for a real airbag and why.

Airbag Inflation Cannister

This picture shows an example of an airbag inflation system. The various components are shown and each can be selected to learn more about the chemistry involved and see a video of the material ignited in air.

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