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2015 Chevy Cruze Heating System Improved By Diaper Discovery

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One GM's random Eureka-moment helped him find a way to better test snow's impact on the 2015 Chevy Cruze heating system

One engineer’s Eureka-moment helped him find a way to better test snow’s impact on the 2015 Chevy Cruze heating system.

It is said that when Archimedes lowered himself into a bath and saw water spill over the side, he suddenly realized that he could measure the volume of irregularly shaped objects by simply measuring the amount of water they displaced. He then ran naked through the streets of Syracuse (the one in Ancient Greece, not in upstate New York), shouting, “Eureka!”

Although it was not quite as dramatic, GM Vehicle Thermal Systems engineer, Nicholas Jahn, had a similar Eureka-moment of his own this past summer. When he lowered his daughter into the water for a swim, he noticed that her diaper expand in size.

After some research, Jahn discovered that diapers contain an absorbent material called sodium polyacrylate, which turns from a powder into a snow-like substance when it comes into contact with water. Jahn also realized he could use this substance in tests that examine how air flowing into the 2015 Chevy Cruze heating system can be obstructed by packed snow at the base of the car’s windshield. This video below explains in more detail:

2015 Chevy Cruze Heating System Test

Related info: How to Prepare Your Car for the Winter

Thanks to the sodium polyacrylate that Jahn learned about via his daughter’s diapers, the engineer is now able to more easily find solutions to the challenges posed by snow that can clog up the Cruze’s inlet panel.

“The last thing anyone wants to do when it’s freezing cold out is scrape their windshield,” said Jahn. “The testing we perform on the Chevrolet Cruze with the diaper material allows us to maximize the car’s heating capabilities.”

2015 Chevy Cruze heating system

A handy infographic that explains the testing process

Related info: Five Common Car Care Mistakes

Before he made his big diaper discovery, Jahn had to either wait for winter weather to provide real snow or schedule testing time in one of GM’s climatic wind tunnels. Fake snow from sodium polyacrylate, on the other hand, can be easily made, used and resused in any climate.

“Diaper material is perfect for testing for snow intrusion and packing properties,” Jahn said. Well, TIL