Analysis of odors and gases in a vehicle interior

What was the challenge or problem to solve?

The client asked us to analyze odors and gases inside a vehicle, as well as the different sources of emissions (due to materials, use, possible external contributions…) in order to know their importance, and thus be able to make future improvements and developments.

Based on these analyses, it would be possible, for example, to eliminate those gases considered to be a nuisance, or to choose between different alternatives offered by automotive component suppliers.

Analysis of odors and gases in a vehicle interior
Analysis of odors and gases in a vehicle interior

How was it addressed or what was the solution?

The study was carried out in two types of automobiles: new and used through a rental company.

A setup was designed in which, by means of different gas extraction tools, the gases found inside the vehicle could be “trapped” and subsequently analyzed in the forensic engineering laboratory using GC-MS equipment.

Sampling was carried out in different areas of the car in order to see its greater/lesser diffusion, as well as in different conditions of the vehicle (stopped, with the air conditioning off/on, at different temperatures…) in order to know its effect.

The result of these gas analyses was a complete list of odors and chemical components whose report was translated into a valuable document to help define the client’s business strategy.


  • To know the odors or volatile compounds inside a car
  • Discriminate the main sources of emissions and their evolution over time.


  • Two types of automobiles were selected: new and used to study how odor evolves due to their use
  • A design of experiments was carried out in which all relevant variables were taken into account
  • A suitable set-up was prepared to extract the gases from the interior of the vehicle and subsequently analyze them by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).

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