Volvo is one such brand, who gives more emphasis on safety than anything. The maximum budget of Volvo's R&D is allocated to improving safety standards in their cars, to save lives of both driver and passengers alongwith the pedestrians. But this is not the only area where Volvo is saving human lives, infact Volvo is working hard to improve quality of life too, via its Clean Zone initiative.
The Clean Zone initiative is a move by Volvo to improve interior air quality, resulting in a better driving environment and better health. To enhance the breathing air quality, Volvo has introduced a larger, more efficient multi-filter in the cabin, designed especially for the SPA platform and will first appear in the all-new XC90. The Volvo system keeps out a number of harmful and irritating pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, ground-level ozone and gases and unpleasant odours.
The new filter enables drivers and passengers to breathe easier because most microscopic, hazardous “fine dust” particles will now be prevented from entering the car. The design now, is more unique which intercepts more particulates and pollen, as well as a layer of active charcoal that effectively removes a host of contaminants that can impact the health of drivers.
According to various studies, dust particles as small as 10 µm are responsible for a multitude of health problems including difficulty in breathing and lung infection's. But the new and improved filter is very effective in reducing the amount of 'fine dust' as they say it. According to various tests, particles as small as 0.4 μm were found almost 70 percent less than in a car without the filter.
But what makes the filter system of Volvo so unique?
A single improved filter alone can't be responsible for all the good work. Volvo has developed a new state-of-the-art, Interior Air Quality System (IAQS). While filter is the only one element of this IAQS, a sensor that monitors the incoming air for noxious substances is the another important element. The sensors judges the air for the toxicity level and if the level of harmful substances becomes too high, the car’s air intakes will automatically close. This sensor comes in handy while passing through a tunnel, where the percentage of fresh air is very less.
“Up to 45 percent of the industrialized world’s population is now suffering from some form of allergy or hypersensitivity. Over ten per cent has asthma. At Volvo, our commitment to safety goes well beyond safety belts and air bags. It’s about making sure that every minute you and your family spend in a Volvo is as safe as it can possibly be. That includes breathing,” says Peter Mertens, senior vice-president (Research and Development). “With this filter we are now at the forefront of the industry in terms of particle separation.”
What is this CleanZone approach?
The aim of the CleanZone’s holistic approach is to improve the overall driver’s environment by cleaning air inside the cabin. It is also aimed to minimize harmful emissions within the car and Volvo has undertaken a number of programs to achieve this. To start with, Volvo's system flushes out interior air within a minute, as soon as the driver unlocks his car, getting rid of odours and emissions before drivers enter. But this is not the only way of reducing inside toxins, infact, Volvo starts building vehicles using less toxic materials and less harmful additives.
Various tests undertaken by Volvo to reduce emissions:
Volvo Car Nose Team test- The members of the team smell different objects to determine if their odour is acceptable or too strong. Ever heard of the ‘new car smell’ thing? The same smell when you enter a brand new car! It is actually low levels of emissions from materials used to build the car. Although the levels are very minimal and do not hold an imminent danger, but on hot days they can be higher.
Sun simulator test- In this test, the car parked outside under the sun, on a hot day. This is to simulate the car parked outside, reaching a temperature of 65deg Celsius, inside the cabin. The emissions of Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs) and aldehydes are then measured. A high level of TVOCs could cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and can trigger asthma. Aldehydes especially formaldehyde, can cause both respiratory and contact allergies. Thus, Volvo has a very strict limit for TVOCs, and Aldehydes.
All we can say is, this is a noble approach from Volvo, and this will surely hep in improving the quality of cabins in terms of safety and health.