Issue: Oct 2007


Exciting new technologies that are aimed improving the environment-friendliness of automobiles



Automotive Industries spoke to Claude Mathieu, president and CEO of MANN+HUMMEL’s North American operations.

by Steve Barclay

In early July, filtration specialist MANN+HUMMEL announced that production of a new generation of cabin filter material would commence and be available to original equipment manufactures in the third quarter of this year. The first types of MANN-FILTER elements supplied in OE quality will hit the aftermarket by September. What makes the new filtration material different is that it has a high proportion of nanofibres which retains the finest particles such as diesel exhaust particulates and fine dust.

“We are focusing our attention above all on particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns. These particles enter the respiratory system and, depending on their type and concentration, may cause or aggravate various medical conditions,” said Dr. Pius Trautmann, Head of Development Cabin Air Filter at MANN+HUMMEL.
At its Cabin Filter Centre of Competence in Marklkofen, Germany, MANN+HUMMEL tests the functions of cabin filters to DIN 71460-1 (filtration and flow properties) and DIN 71460-2 (adsorption capacity). The company says that its comprehensive test program carried out by the development engineers includes intensive testing of filtration and flow properties, as well as the ability to adsorb gas molecules. However, as these standard test methods may differ widely from actual conditions in an urban environment, MANN+HUMMEL also uses external test rigs to test highly polluted ambient air. The function of the filter elements from the filtration specialists was outstanding, even under the most difficult conditions.
“As higher levels of comfort are now required, around 85 % of all automobiles and light trucks produced in the United States in 2006 were equipped with a CAF. Around 15 years ago, when cabin filters first started to be installed on a large scale, the emphasis was on allergies triggered by plant pollen and technical aspects such as protecting the air conditioning system from contamination which would lead to loss of power. In the meantime, protecting the driver and passengers against fine and superfine particles of dust has become increasingly important,” says the company.

In June this year, the 1.6 billion Euro MANN+HUMMEL announced at the “Thermoplastic materials in the engine compartment” Symposium how it is increasing the use of thermoplastic materials. For example, a new radial sealing system for cylinder head covers has been developed for series production and patented by MANN+HUMMEL, together with Federal Mogul Sealing Systems and Du Pont. It offers an improved sealing function across the entire temperature range, optimized acoustics, is lighter in weight and more economical. Similarly, the company is reducing weight by replacing metal with plastic components and offering environmentally-friendly filter media and designs. The environmental impact can also be reduced, for example, by greater use of so-called recompounded plastic materials for demanding applications in the engine compartment. The environmental advantage of these plastics, compared with conventional compounds, is that scrap plastic which is constantly created in normal production processes, can be recycled.

Another technology MANN+HUMMEL is working on is on water-assisted injection technology using its own prototype tool. The suitability of various polyamides, particularly glass fibre reinforced polyamide 66, was tested. Results of these tests confirm that water-assisted injection technology is ready for series production. It offers new opportunities for functional integration in plastic components.

MANN+HUMMEL has 10,500 employees across 41 countries and develops complex automotive components such as air filter systems, intake manifold systems, liquid filter systems and cabin filters for the automotive industry, and filter elements for vehicle servicing and repair.

Automotive Industries spoke to Claude Mathieu, president and CEO of MANN+HUMMEL’s North American operations.

AI: What are some of your company’s new technologies that are aimed improving the environment-friendliness of automobiles? And when are they expected to hit the market?

MANN+HUMMEL has always been very ‘green’ with respect to product development. We produce products that help reduce the environmental impact of our customer’s vehicles, such as Hydrocarbon Adsorption elements for PZEV vehicles to reduce lifetime evaporative emissions, Diesel Particulate Filters to separate particulates out of diesel exhaust, and general reduction of the total vehicle CO2 emissions by weight reduction through integration and replacement of metal components with plastic. Other products are oriented to reduce their impact on the environment directly such as, use of re-compounded plastic material made from among several sources used carpet, and metal free/plastic free oil filter elements that are often used to fuel energy plants through incineration after their use in a vehicle. In addition to helping the environment with our innovative products,

MANN+HUMMEL is involved in several global activities to establish environmentally friendly production processes in our manufacturing locations worldwide. These efforts cover critical issues such as saving energy, reducing scrap, and proper waste disposal among other things.

AI: What kind of focus does MANN+HUMMEL have on quality?

MANN+HUMMEL USA is pursuing a Zero Defect Philosphy. We are working to instill the behaviors in the work force to drive continual improvement & defect prevention. Stopping defects early in the process and implementing corrective and preventative actions. Quality checks are done by the operators producing the parts to strengthen their knowledge of the products as well as to ensure that quality is maintained throughout the process.
MANN+HUMMEL has been working with Japanese customers and suppliers to build relationships that foster quality from the development process to the manufacturing of the products. MANN+HUMMEL has successfully launched products with one of the Top 2 Asian car manufacturers and received high praise for the quality of the parts.

AI: How does MANN+HUMMEL view emerging markets?
Are the kind of technologies different or do these markets require the same kind of products as developed markets?

MANN+HUMMEL is a global company with 41 locations. MANN+HUMMEL’s extensive presence in emerging markets includes: two locations in China, an established plant in Mexico, a new plant in India, and the recent founding of MANN+HUMMEL Russia in 2007. The overall technology that is utilized in these markets is no different than that which is employed in established markets. However, the individual vehicle product offerings do vary by market in regards to size, engine displacement, and emissions regulations. Although, as these markets are very dynamic and growing at an ever accelerating rate, the comparative gap to these differences, most specifically in regards to emissions, is closing very fast. Our global presence allows us to support our broad customer base effectively in these growing markets.

AI: Please tell us a little about MANN+HUMMEL’s vision for tomorrow’s cars, coaches and trucks.

MANN+HUMMEL’s vision is to continue to develop innovative progressive technology in keeping pace with the accelerating technical advancements in the automotive and transportation industry. We are currently involved and prepared to support technology advancements in alternative fuels and alternative powertrain/transmission systems. Our expertise in the integration of functions not only helps to reduce overall weight and cost, but also reduces space. This is critical for all technologies, but specifically for developments in gasoline and diesel hybrid drive systems. The development of high efficiency fuel filtration systems for alternative fuels in gasoline and diesel engines also requires expertise in understanding the impact of these often corrosive fuel sources as well as their specific filtration performance needs. Also, the focus on a ‘green’ philosophy is pervasive in the end environmental benefits of most all of our products as seen through the weight reduction benefits of effective integration. In the long term, we are also actively developing media technology to support the specifc filtration requirements needed for fuel cell technology.


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