Visteon Corp.'s bid to be the first supplier to offer CO2 air conditioning systems will get a boost next month.
The supplier will open a climatic wind tunnel and separate climatic chamber Oct. 1 in Kerpen, Germany.
Visteon plans to test air conditioning systems that use CO2 as the refrigerant. Visteon wants to start producing CO2 air conditioners by 2009.
Delphi Corp., Denso Corp. and Behr GmbH also are developing air conditioners using CO2 to replace the ozone-depleting refrigerant R134a. The European Union will ban R134a from cars built after 2011.
Visteon invested more than $24 million in new equipment in Kerpen. The company previously relied on third parties to simulate extreme wind and climate conditions, which was costly and time consuming. Also, problems arose because Visteon did not control the management and maintenance of the tests.
"Being on one site means that the components can be built, taken to testing and the results can be fed back to the engineers," said Chris Swales, Visteon laboratory and test methodologies engineering manager for climate control systems.
The testing process for climate control systems begins in the benchmarking area in Kerpen. "Our engineers are strongly recommended to see and feel our own components, but especially our competitors' components," Swales said. Visteon also posts benchmarking data on its intranet.
The separate climatic chamber has the same range of conditions as the tunnel but without the wind. That lets Visteon test two cars simultaneously under different conditions or host separate customers without concerns about confidentiality.
Once a prototype has been validated on test rigs, Visteon installs it in a vehicle. The vehicle is tested in noise, vibration and harshness chambers and the climatic test facilities.