X-ray technology – looking inside catalytic converters to speed production

X-ray technology – looking inside catalytic converters to speed production

A new powerful and precise x-ray analysis technology can check the quality of a catalytic converter's precious metal washcoat without dismantling its metal casing.

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The catalytic converters on cars, lorries and diesels massively reduce pollution – but they are extremely costly due to the expensive metals they use – platinum, palladium and rhodium.

3DX-RAY have said that its MDXi x-ray system can substantially reduce manufacturing costs – at the same time as boosting the efficiency of a catalytic converter. This can help to meet the increasingly stringent environmental emission standards that are being introduced worldwide.

A catalytic converter is basically a honeycombed cylindrical chamber with a series of precious metal washcoats that react with the exhaust. Washcoats need to be very thin (to reduce costs) and very even (to boost efficiency).

3DX-RAY has developed a powerful and precise x-ray analysis technology to check the quality of these washcoats actually inside their metal casing. Their MDXi system allows users to see internal features and defects non-destructively, this can be fed back, in real-time, to control the manufacturing process and eliminate problems before they arise. The system reduces wastage, minimises scrap and optimises the application of expensive catalysts.

Advanced image capture and processing software allows users to see and measure sub-millimetre details inside the converter. Where required it can be tailored to meet bespoke application requirements and it offers optional robot compatibility and PLC control.

The 3DX-RAY MDXi x-ray system can measure both substrate coatings and multiple washcoats, allowing manufacturers to identify artefacts and defects (distributions, overlaps and voids). This is done in real time, providing 100% inspection at full production line speed.

Michelin completes purchase of NexTraq for fleet telematics from FLEETCOR

Michelin completes purchase of NexTraq for fleet telematics from FLEETCOR

Michelin has closed its acquisition of NexTraq, the US provider of commercial fleet telematics, from FLEETCOR Technologies, a leading global provider of fuel cards and workforce payment products.

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As a wholly owned subsidiary of Michelin North America, NexTraq will expand Michelin's footprint, scale and competitiveness in the rapidly growing fleet-services category. NexTraq provides GPS-enabled solutions for driver safety, fuel management and enhancing driver productivity in commercial fleets of smaller vehicles (classes 3‒5).

The purchase agreement was announced on June 14. NexTraq will maintain its principal offices in Atlanta. The unit has approximately 7,000 fleet customers and 116,000 subscribers nationwide.

Maxim's automotive LED controller eliminates trade-off between fast response time and low EMI for safer exterior lighting applications

Maxim's automotive LED controller eliminates trade-off between fast response time and low EMI for safer exterior lighting applications

Maxim Integrated Products have stated that their MAX20078 synchronous buck, high-brightness LED controller is the only product available which provides both fast response time and low electromagnetic interference (EMI) for exterior LED lighting and improved safety applications.

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Ideal for matrix lighting designs, the LED controller allows designers to achieve high performance, ease of design, and fast time-to-market.

In advanced lighting applications such as matrix lighting, LED drivers and controllers have challenges when switching LEDs at high speeds which can cause overshoots and undershoots in current. These applications are not easy to design, as they require numerous LEDs located in a densely-concentrated area and EMI can be especially difficult to eliminate. Automakers spend time, money, and effort trying to achieve low EMI as they experiment with different layouts and filtering methods.

The MAX20078 provides ultra-fast response times enabling smoother transient responses. While eliminating the need for external compensation components, it also offers a wide dimming ratio and features both integrated fault protection and monitoring circuitry. The MAX20078 allows for fast LED switching and low EMI so that designers no longer need to sacrifice one for the other. These benefits, along with simplified design and flexible switching frequencies, allow designers to achieve faster time-to-market.

Key advantages:

High Performance: Ultra-fast response times enable advanced lighting designs
Ease of design: Low EMI; no compensation components required; can be programmed using switching frequencies from 100kHz up to 1MHz
Fast time-to-market: Integration of components and programmable switching frequency for a simple, flexible design.

BASF improves its polyether polyols for lower emissions

BASF improves its polyether polyols for lower emissions

BASF has now improved the process for manufacturing Lupranol (polyether polyol) so car components made of BASF polyurethane systems emit an average of 20% less aldehyde.

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This allows automotive suppliers, that manufacture e.g. acoustic parts, seats and steering wheels or back-foam instrument panels and doors, to meet the increasing requirements of car manufacturers and the law for lower emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in vehicle interiors. Following the process change at BASF's Asian production sites at the beginning of 2017, the modification is now being made in Europe and will take place in the US plants during the course of this year. Alongside isocyanate, polyol is the starting product for polyurethane foam systems.

The emissions have been optimised by improving the cleaning and finishing processes of Lupranol in such a way that the mechanical properties of the material remain unchanged during the following foam and processing steps. This means that the currently used Lupranol grades can be exchanged immediately, there is no need for elaborate tests or renewed approvals of the PU systems which are based on these improved polyol grades. BASF markets the PU systems for flexible, semi-rigid and integral foams under the trademarks Elastoflex W, Elastoflex E and Elastofoam I.

With the improved Lupranol grades BASF contributes to automotive components with ever lower emissions. Completed parts made of BASF PU systems are tested internally as well as by certified test laboratories like Imat-Uve and Institut Fresenius. The improvement of the emission values varies from part to part: An average reduction of 20% is possible, measured according to commonly accepted chamber test methods like VDA276 and BMW GS 97014-3.

Governments around the world are continuously demanding lower emissions for vehicle interiors in order to reduce the possible impact of volatile substances on the health of car drivers, but also to lessen the typical new-car smell. The focus is currently on aldehydes such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and propionaldehyde, as well as aromatics from polyurethanes. BASF has said it is working intensively on developing PU systems which allow for car components with lower emissions.

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