Of all the wacky vehicle testing procedures in all the world, this has to be one of the strangest; a release from General Motors reveals that testing of the interior heating system on the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze made extensive use of diaper stuffing material.
The stuff that gives diapers their absorbency is called sodium polyacrylate, and Vehicle Thermal Systems Engineer Nicholas Jahn found that in the presence of moisture, the powder swells, taking on a consistency very similar to that of snow. This property made it perfectly suitable for simulating snowfall for the purposes of testing how the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze can cope with snow blocking air inlet vents crucial for interior heating.
Mr. Jahn’s discovery of the material, ironically enough, occurred during the summer when he went for a swim with his daughter. He noted that her diaper just about doubled in size when wet. Now, thanks to the responsible sodium polyacrylate stuffing, Chevrolet was able to test the Cruze’s heating system in the snow without relying on Mother Nature’s schedule – or having to secure time in one of GM’s climatic wind tunnels.
Best of all, when the sodium polyacrylate dries, it can be used again. Ordinarily, we would warn against reusing old diapers, but this is a fortunate – and frugal – exception.