Autoliv's new ASH-2 inflator is an innovation that uses the chemical process of dissociation rather than combustion to produce a heated gas for side airbag inflation.
The ASH-2 inflator replaces three types of inflators: compressed stored gas, pyrotechnic, and hybrid, all of which have disadvantages. Most of the presently used inflators employ some form of pyrotechnic material to provide the inflation gas through a combustion process. These inflators generally produce undesirable particulates, and the gas produced is often at a temperature high enough to be capable of causing burns to vehicle occupants.
The primary advantage of the ASH-2 dissociation-based inflator is the elimination of separate fuel and oxidant charges, as well as associated components. In practice, this means a simpler inflator with significantly fewer parts, lighter weight, smaller package size, and significantly improved reliability. The dissociation process also produces a very dense gas at considerably lower temperatures, which allows the airbags to remain inflated for a longer time. This means improved performance vs. existing inflators, especially in curtain-type airbags, which need to remain inflated longer.
The 1999 PACE award is given to Autoliv for their application of a new technology in an innovative way, to provide significant benefits to their company, the automotive industry, the environment, and vehicle occupants.