If you ever heard Mom say, “Waste not; want not,” the chances you rolled your eyes or had a similar response are pretty large. However, General Motors’ Vehicle Thermal Systems engineer, Nicholas Jahn, must have taken the saying to heart because, the next thing we know, diapers are helping to warm your car faster, and all thanks to Jahn.
Snow, when it gets packed into the inlet at the bottom of the windshield, can block the flow of air to and from the vehicle. This makes heating the cabin less efficient and leaves you in the cold for longer than necessary.
In order to combat snow’s effects and improve the efficiency of the car’s heater, Jahn needed to conduct tests. He wanted a substance that would behave like snow in order to make testing more feasible – otherwise he would have to wait for it to actually snow or find an open time slot to conduct tests in GM’s climatic wind tunnels.
So, Jahn decided not to waste the observations he made as his daughter swam in her diapers.
When wet, her diapers expanded. Not exactly a shocking revelation, but upon further research, Jahn found the diapers were partially made of a substance called sodium polyacrylate that behaves like snow when saturated. Conveniently, the sodium polyacrylate can be used in testing at any location and is reusable.
Now that Jahn and his team have been able to improve testing procedures, they’ve also been able to develop a more efficient heating system in vehicles like the Chevy Cruze.
“The last thing anyone wants to do when it’s freezing cold out is scrape their windshield,” Jahn said. “The testing we perform on the Chevrolet Cruze with the diaper material allows us to maximize the car’s heating capabilities.”
So yes, waste not; want not; and stay warm. We at Gjovik Auto guess Mom was right after all.