Airbag Deployment: Infrared Thermography and Evaluation of Thermal Damage

This article reports on a study undertaken to estimate thermal damage and skin burning caused by the deployment of airbags in an automobile. Airbags use a fast, exothermic-chemical reaction which can cause burns in two ways: exposure to the hot gas from the chemical reaction can cause burns and burns can also be caused by direct contact with the airbag surface. The authors used infrared thermography to detect and measure the extent of temperature rise of the airbag surface from the zero moment of its inflation. The authors then used Henriques equation to calculate the extent of thermal damage caused by airbag deployment and its resulting burn degree. This study found that, during the inflation of airbag, the maximum temperature of its surface can be 92 degrees Celsius, plus or minus 2 degrees Celsius. The authors note that, if the vehicle’s safety system functions within the predicted time intervals, the risk of thermal damage is very low, but if a slight delay occurs in detachment of the passenger’s head and face from off the airbag, second- and third-degree burns could occur. The authors conclude with a brief discussion of some strategies to minimize the risk of thermal damage, including improving the material and thickness of the airbags.


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  • Accession Number: 01723018
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 8 2019 2:20PM