ContiTech Air Spring Systems has developed two new types of air spring onto the market for its customers in Commercial Vehicle Original Equipment, developed for use in especially cold areas and hot conditions.
The temperature resistance requirements of air spring systems are becoming increasingly stringent. Extreme temperatures in particular present major challenges for developers and manufacturers.
Diethelm Bauch, head of Commercial Vehicle Original Equipment at ContiTech Air Spring Systems, says it is only possible to develop temperature-resistant elastomer products that can withstand high temperatures above zero or icy minus temperatures with comprehensive materials expertise.
With trucks and semi-trucks being used increasingly in regions dominated by especially hot or cold ambient temperatures, the extremes impose high requirements on vehicle components and standard materials do not withstand the extreme stresses.
Elastic at the lowest temperatures
The key basis for the cold-resistant air springs is the special rubber compound used, Bauch says.
“Conventional air springs lose their elasticity at low sub-zero temperatures and can develop leaks,” he adds. “This is why we developed a compound and put it through rigorous testing in the cold chamber. With the new air spring, trucks are optimally equipped to operate in temperatures as low as -55°C.”
Customers can identify the new air spring by the snowflake symbol, which can already be seen on Continental winter tires. The first generation has already proved successful in use in Siberia. Meanwhile, ContiTech has brought out cold-resistant variants of further air spring types.
Low wear even in the heat
In extremely hot regions, the requirements on air springs in commercial vehicles are very different, Bauch says.
Higher ambient temperatures and extreme atmospheric effects such as ozone and UV radiation accelerate the wear process. The installation conditions in the vehicle can further intensify this process: In particular, the proximity to the vehicle exhaust system places higher thermal stress on the air springs.
To slow down the process and guarantee a long service life even in high temperatures, ContiTech has developed an air spring for high-temperature applications – the hi-temp air spring. It is based on a compound comprising chloroprene rubber (CR) as the main component and is marked with the symbol of a sun.
“Tests in a climate chamber have shown that the new hi-temp air spring offers twice the service life of a standard product in extreme temperatures of 80°C,” says Bauch. “This makes it the ideal solution for use under aggressive temperature influences – also outside the subtropics.”