Why Takata air bags explode

May 20, 2015 3:19 PM

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Nearly 34 million U.S. cars equipped with Takata air bags could be recalled after the Japanese manufacturer said the number of defective air bags was higher than previous estimates.

Takata's air bags use ammonium nitrate as a propellant to create gas for bag inflation. After prolonged exposure to high humidity and changes in temperature, the chemical can unexpectedly cause an explosion that sprays occupants with shrapnel.

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