Power Electronics

Ford, GM try smart seat fabric; warmer in winter, cooler in summer

At SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) in Las Vegas this week, Ford and GM are showing a smart seat fabric technology that could be an alternative to the active controls currently used in automotive seating thermal management systems.

The fabric technology, originally developed for NASA, uses phase-change material (PCM) “Thermocules” to absorb and store excess body heat to create a cooling effect, and release it as needed to provide additional warmth.

Ford is using the fabric on the seats of a 2005 Mustang GTR. GM has it on a Pontiac GTC.

Automotive interiors specialist Shawmut Corporation (West Bridgewater, Mass.) and Outlast Technologies Inc. (Boulder, Colo.), which holds patent rights, are collaborating to bring Smart Fabric Technology to automotive seating.

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