TI Automotive Demonstrates First-Ever Integrated Slosh and Pressurized Plastic Fuel Tanks for Hybrid-Electric Vehicles

-- Innovative new technology allows hybrid-electric vehicles to replace current steel tank designs with quiet, lightweight, low-emission plastic fuel tanks.

-- Unique manufacturing process allows for flexible design options of integrating features internally in the plastic fuel tank shape.

Mar 03, 2011, 15:00 ET from TI Automotive

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., March 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- TI Automotive – a global supplier of automotive fluid storage, carrying and delivery technology – showcased its innovative new slosh and pressurized plastic fuel tanks for hybrid-electric vehicles at the ITB Automotive Energy Storage and Fuel Systems 2011 Conference today in Novi, Mich.

The first-of-its-kind technology, developed through an enabling manufacturing process called "Tank Advanced Process Technology" (TAPT), allows hybrid-electric vehicle manufacturers to replace current steel designs with quiet, lightweight, low-emission plastic tanks.

"The unique powertrain operating and vapor purge cycle of hybrid-electric vehicles can create an increased amount of vapor pressure within the fuel tank. In addition, because hybrid electric vehicles are so quiet in the full electric mode, fuel slosh noise is more recognized by the passengers," said Al Deane, Chief Technology Officer, TI Automotive. "With TAPT, we can create complex plastic fuel tank shapes and sizes that can handle the pressure and noise concerns."

The TAPT process is based on traditional blow-molding technology, but with several tooling enhancements. After the plastic parison enters the mold, it is initially shaped with air pressure without fully closing the two mold halves, then cut along the parting line. This allows a robot to then insert key components of the fuel system, such as structural rib sections, slosh baffles and/or additional plastic parison material that can enable noise reduction and increase structural integrity. The mold then fully closes and final air pressure is applied to develop the complex shape of the plastic fuel tank.

During the ITB Conference, Albert Boecker, Advanced Technology Director of Fluid Storage Systems at TI Automotive, presented the design and manufacturing advantages, along with process developments for pressurized plastic fuel tanks. Process videos and actual samples were displayed at the conference. The TAPT process enters production in 2012. TI Automotive currently has been awarded development contracts for one European and two Asian automakers for HEV pressurized fuel tanks.

"The TAPT process has limitless potential," Boecker said. "It was previously thought that a plastic tank could not support the needs of the hybrid-electric vehicle manufacturers. We now have proven a viable design exists and there are many more possible solutions for future vehicle and alternative powertrain system needs."

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SOURCE TI Automotive