The original airbag propellant recipe used by Takata in the modules at the center of the supplier’s recall crisis has been changed, according to an anonymous company official.
According to Reuters, the source didn’t explain what was changed for the new recipe, but that ammonium nitrate — the chemical used in the original recipe — remained part of the revised propellant’s makeup:
There is no admission of a defect with the original version. There has not been any finding that ammonium nitrate or the earlier composition was somehow flawed. We changed the composition in an effort to improve quality.
The original compound, when exposed to high humidity, caused the inflators in the module to catastrophically explode, showering the cabin and those inside with metal shrapnel that once was the module’s housing.
The new compound has been used in replacement modules for vehicles brought in for repairs under recall, though the source did not say how many vehicles had the new compound, when the change in the recipe was made, or which models had the new modules. Around 17 million vehicles with the defective modules have been recalled since 2008, 11 million in the United States alone.
Takata made over 100 million units with the original recipe since 2000, and is the only major airbag supplier to use ammonium nitrate; Autoliv and TRW Automotive — both of whom called up by Takata to help supply replacements — use guanidine nitrate instead.