Through a $20-million development program that began last year, Freudenberg-NOK is applying its Technology Specialist and total system sealing capabilities to develop fuel system components which will help automakers to meet the stricter U.S. emissions standards planned for 2003 and beyond (LEVII and ZEV).

Leveraging the global Freudenberg and NOK Group’s years of experience in valve technology, a team of engineers and technical experts is developing designs which could help cut emissions caused by the fuel system by as much as 90 percent, according to J. Jeffrey Hildebrand, Freudenberg-NOK’s director – Valve Business Unit.

“In the year since the launch of the North American Valve Business Unit, we’ve made remarkable progress,” Hildebrand said. “We have a highly qualified team of technical experts in place in North America who are working collaboratively with our colleagues in Europe and Asia. We are well into the development of fuel system valves which will not only meet customers’ new emissions requirements, but also reduce total system cost and complexity.”

With U.S. regulations leading the way in emissions standards globally, Hildebrand said, his North American unit has established itself as the global lead in fuel system valve technology for the worldwide Freudenberg and NOK Group.

Fuel system innovations being driven through the current development program at Freudenberg-NOK include:

Valves with patented seal designs offering a two-stage shut-off feature enabling consumers to top off their fuel tanks;
Multi-function, zero-leak valves which can be easily welded to plastic fuel tanks;
A patented valve body design which increases liquid/vapor separation to maintain the effectiveness of the vapor recovery canister; and
A clean-sheet fuel system design that could dramatically reduce the number of fuel tank openings, valves and connections, as well as the length of fuel lines, to minimize potential leaks and reduce cost.
“With current fuel system designs featuring as many as six tank openings and perhaps 10 to 15 connections, we see huge potential for improvement,” Hildebrand said. “By starting from scratch with a ‘design for zero emissions’ approach early on, and leveraging our affiliates’ expertise in fuel line and quick connect expertise, we can help our customers achieve major reductions in fuel system emissions, complexity, cost and warranty.”

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According to Hildebrand, fuel system components now offered by Freudenberg-NOK include: onboard refueling vapor recovery (ORVR) control valves, fill limit vent valves, roll over valves, fuel cut valves, inlet check valves, canister purge valves, vapor management valves, refueling control valves, flow management valves, ORVR filler head assemblies, check valves and other sealing and NVH components.

The company has been producing ORVR control valves in North America since 1997 and will launch production of a new refueling control valve in North America later this summer. Through its Valve Business Unit, Freudenberg-NOK also offers a broad range of solenoid and diaphragm actuated valves for application in various vehicle systems, including air induction, engine and transmission control, steering, braking and all-wheel drive.

Plymouth, Mich.-based Freudenberg-NOK is part of the Freudenberg and NOK Group Companies, which have total annual sales of nearly $7 billion. With global automotive sales of approximately $4 billion, the Freudenberg and NOK Group ranks among the world’s top 20 automotive suppliers and is one of only eight in the top 100 that has global balance in each of the three major automotive markets – Asia, Europe and North America.

Through a global network of facilities spanning 27 countries with some 23,000 automotive employees worldwide, the supplier group offers its automotive customers globally integrated products, including sealing packages for transmissions, engines, brakes, axles and steering, NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) components and packages, and all rubber, plastic and PTFE components for suspension, electrical and fuel systems.

The Freudenberg and NOK Group also offers an extensive portfolio of precision-molded products for the aerospace, appliance, business machine, fluid power, marine, medical, off-highway equipment and recreational vehicle markets.