Plastic has transformed every existing industrial sector worldwide but the automobile industry remains the biggest beneficiary of the plastic revolution. From bumpers and aesthetic applications to interior materials, plastic has touched all aspects of automobile manufacturing. The latest development now is that fuel tanks in small engines are being made of plastic!
Traditionally fuel tanks are made of metal, which has 8% of tin coating on the interior as well as exterior. However, metal tanks are a greater conductor of electricity and are susceptible to exterior corrosion caused by chemicals, high weight etc. Also over the time, metals wither away, which could lead to static charges, igniting sparks and serious risks of vehicle burning and explosion.
Unlike metals, plastic fuel tanks are lightweight and can be seamlessly formed into a single solid part. This results in increased tank strength and higher crash worthiness, adding to vehicular safety. What’s more, plastic tanks do not conduct electricity, hence there’s less likelihood of generating electrostatic charges.
Plastic Fuel Tanks offer the Perfect Balance Between Safety, Weight, And Cost-Effectiveness:
The biggest challenge automakers faced when creating fuel tanks was to make tanks that are impermeable to water vapors. They came out with an innovative solution and created plastic tanks using 6 layers of plastic. This works to prevent vapor permeability and provide structural stability.
Plastic fuel tanks made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are corrosion-resistant, do not require special coatings and compatible with all types of bio-fuels. Also, they are compatible with hybrid power trains.
Plastics used in the making of fuel tanks are processed at lower temperatures. Also, they contribute to decrease the overall weight vehicular weight as a plastic fuel tank weighs 2/3rd less than the overall metal fuel tank. It has greater design flexibility and can be designed to fit in the chassis of the car. All these factors make plastic fuel tanks cost-effective.
Also, new processes have enabled manufacturers to create fuel tanks from scrap plastic and recycled plastic. This contributes to an overall lighter vehicle, which means fewer emissions and improved gas mileage.