Metal fuel tanks may corrode from fuel, road chemicals, salt, mud, and gravel. Corrosion can weaken the tank, which poses serious risks of spills and explosion. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) fuel tanks are resistant to those corrosive environments. Designers shape a car then at the end of the process can fill leftover negative space with the plastic tank shape.
The “no-seam” integrity of plastic tanks adds to vehicle safety. Manufacturers blow a thick continuous multi-layer tube of the polymer into a mold. This can shape a “seamless” part.
Seamless gas tanks help prevent leakage during crashes. Often, designers will make plastic fuel tanks of up to six layers. Thicker tank walls better prevent vapor and emission permeability and provide added structural stability. An average plastic tank also weighs two-thirds less than an average steel tank.
Plastics go beyond fuel tanks to include the multitude of parts and assemblies that make up the fuel system, reducing weight, providing chemical and corrosion resistance and improving engine efficiency. For example, the 2015 Honda Fit features an innovative technology allowing the electrical heater within the injector to be energized by the vehicle controller, rapidly heating the ethanol fuel and dramatically improving vaporization while reducing emissions. The technology reportedly reduced vehicle weight while improving cold starts and eliminating the need for a redundant gasoline fuel system on the vehicle.
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