Engineering 101

Did You Know Humidity Was So Dangerous For Auto Components?

Humidity Is A Major "Health" Risk For Some Auto Components


Humidity is such a major risk for some automotive components that it can even cause explosions and fires due to water leaking into critical systems.

These days, car makers are focusing more and more attention on reducing the risk of fires and explosions that can be caused by water leaking into critical components.

Airbags, EV batteries, autonomous-vehicle sensors and other parts all can be seriously damaged when water-vapor leaks into a safety-critical system. “Ingress” leaks of this type even can lead to fires, explosions and fatal vehicle accidents.

“It’s just as important to keep dust and liquids from getting into an important component such as a battery cell as it is to keep battery electrolytes from leaking out,” said Thomas Parker, North American market sales manager for INFICON, a leading global provider of leak-detection equipment.

According to Parker, the water vapor that leaked into vehicle-airbag systems may have been responsible for explosions that resulted in the recall of millions of vehicles and damage to autonomous vehicle sensors caused by ingress leaks could lead to a serious accident as well.

“Leak-rate specifications for ingress testing are critically important and generally stricter than for outflow tests,” Parker pointed out. “It’s much easier for water vapor to make its way into an assembly that it is for water, oil or more viscous liquids to leak out.”

Consumer electronics, electrical components and sensors increasingly are being certified for use with ingress-protection ratings set by the International Electrotechnical Commission. Its two-digit International Protection Marking or IP code measures the degree of protection against intrusion, dust, accidental contact and water. The system rates a device’s capacity to resist solid objects as well as water intrusion or ingress.

Different pressure settings are required for each type of test and manufacturers often struggle to decide what leak-rate specifications should be used to achieve IP certification.

INFICON recently completed a series of tests to help solve the problem. Results of the INFICON tests are available in a recently published article titled “Ingress Protection Class IP67 – Tests Prove Leak Rate Specification” .


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