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Volvo environmental innovations

Broadcast dates : 29th May 2005
4th June 2005


Safety features are important, but even more vital in terms of our long-term survival is containing the environment. Caused mainly by the combustion of fossil fuels, the accelerating Greenhouse Effect is the concern of every motor manufacturer across the globe. The internal combustion engine is one of the chief culprits of inner-city air pollution.

And the manufacturing process of motorcars also has a major impact on the environment, which responsible automakers are constantly striving to minimize.

For car designers, environmental awareness is now top-of-mind from the moment a new model is planned.
This includes the production phase, its life on the road and that time when scrapping the vehicle becomes a reality.

Recycling is not new, but the process, especially in Europe and America, is now ultra-refined. Volvo claims some eighty-five per cent of its car components can be recycled.

Fuel efficiency, and resulting lower pollution, depends on a number of factors.
These include low wind-resistance, low body mass, low rolling resistance and low internal friction in the engine and drive-train.

The major advances in recent years have been in reducing the amount of noxious gases engines spew into the atmosphere.

The three-way catalytic converter, which uses platinum as a particle exchanger, can eliminate up to ninety-five per cent of harmful gases escaping out the tailpipe
.

Another area being explored is in the use of dual-fuel systems employing methane gas. The Volvo Biogas system offers reduced emissions, with the option of switching back to petrol when necessary.

Every little bit counts in the fight against smog. A special radiator coating developed by Volvo acts as a mini catalytic converter and converts up to 75 per cent of ground level smog passing through the radiator, into pure oxygen.

Air particle filters for the car’s occupants are obviously important, especially for allergy sufferers. Volvo uses a system called Interior Air Quality System. This employs a carbon monoxide sensor which shuts down the air intakes if the interior gas level gets too high.
In the manufacture of interior trim, certain items such as toxic glues and solvents are prohibited, once again to ensure a healthy cabin environment.

Since 1998, Volvo has been using textiles certified under the OEKOTEX 100 standard to reduce the risk of allergic reactions to skin. Metal items too are coated to prevent the release of nickel, and even the leather upholstery is tanned using a chromium-free substance, again to reduce allergy-risk.
Volvo’s circa 2002 SCC, which was seen at our Auto Africa exhibition that year, focused much attention on visibility, important for a small coupe.
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