TI Automotive will show what it claims is the world's first plastic fuel tank to meet California's strict Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) requirements at a technical conference.

Dr. Pierre Delbarre, TI Automotive's global director of materials and innovations, will present a technical paper on the fuel tank at the International Technical Business Consultants (ITB) Automotive Fuel Systems 2003 conference.

Named PERMBLOK(R) AS6, the tank is constructed of a combination of six layers of materials to reduce fuel permeation and exceed crash-test standards. It was co-developed in partnership with the French petrochemical company ATOFINA at TI Automotive's research facility in Rastatt, Germany.

TI Automotive says it already has a contract to supply the PERMBLOK(R) AS6 tank for a North American production vehicle in 2004.

"The development of PERMBLOK(R) AS6 builds on TI Automotive's breakthrough six-layer 'ship-in-a-bottle' (SIB) and complete vapor recovery (CVR) designs," Dr. Delbarre said. "These designs enclose fuel pumps, level sensors and other components inside the fuel tank to significantly reduce vehicle evaporative emissions."

TI Automotive introduced the SIB design in 2002 to help automakers meet California's LEV II regulations.

PERMBLOK(R) AS6 combines two barrier materials -- ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH) and ATOFINA'S ORGALLOY(R) FT104 nylon-based alloy -- in a way that TI says both reduces fuel permeation and improves structural integrity and crashworthiness. TI says the new tank structure offers superior performance for elevated temperatures (above 100 degrees C).

According to TI, PERMBLOK(R) AS6 provides automakers with a broader degree of design flexibility without adding weight or taking up additional space. The company says that plastic provides a significant advantage over steel for tanks because it doesn't corrode; it is more easily shaped; it is lighter, and moulds are cheaper and easier to produce.