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How Do Airbags Work?

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 Chemistry   |   Science   |   Technology
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Check to see if your car is part of the Takata airbag recall: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls

If you’re in a car accident, you want to be sure your airbags protect you. And they work because of chemistry, with some physics thrown in. This week on Reactions, we’re talking the science of airbags. And remember: Airbags are meant to work in conjunction with seatbelts, so buckle up!

[Pinned comment: In the aftermath of a crash, you might notice a puff of white powder and a funny smell. In older model cars, that’s cornstarch or talcum powder used to lubricate the bag itself, but in more recent vehicles, it’s the actual byproducts of the airbag reaction.]

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Credits:
Producer: Sean Parsons
Writer: Alexa Billow
Scientific Consultants: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Sources:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWSlwhYyOhI
http://www.chemistry.wustl.edu/~edudev/LabTutorials/CourseTutorials/bb/Airbags/151_T5_07_airbags.pdf
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-do-air-bags-work/
https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-airbags-1991232
http://web.bryant.edu/~ehu/h364proj/sprg_97/dirksen/airbags.html
https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/airbags/airbags_invented.html
https://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/a-brief-history-of-air-bags-and-the-future-of-driverles-1634903213
https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/air-bags
https://www.quora.com/Why-do-airbags-smell
https://www.popsci.com/how-airbags-are-supposed-to-work#page-2
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed073p347?journalCode=jceda8
https://cecas.clemson.edu/cvel/auto/actuators/airbag.html

Ever wonder why dogs sniff each others' butts? Or how Adderall works? Or whether it's OK to pee in the pool? We've got you covered: Reactions a web series about the chemistry that surrounds you every day.

Produced by the American Chemical Society.

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