Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Chemistry

Degree Type

Master of Science


This thesis covers the use of chemistry in the automotive industry with emphasis on environmental compliance via chemical reporting by database and internal Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) screening, third party laboratory material testing, and the future of the chemist in the United States (U.S.) automotive industry. The third party testing was performed at Western Kentucky University (WKU) via the Materials Characterization Center (MCC), Institute for Combustion Science and Environmental Technology (ICSET) Thermodynamics Laboratory, and using the Scanning Electron Microscope/Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometer (SEM/EDX) managed by the WKU Biotechnology Center. Furthermore, the tests conducted were used to investigate material defects, provide solid third party quantitative results to support our XRF screenings to ensure environmental compliance, and determine cost effective material replacements. The company for which the testing was performed and information obtained is involved with the production of electronics for many of the major automotive companies throughout the world. The company specializes in the production of wiring harnesses, electrical control units (ECU), boxes (junction, fuse, relay, etc), and electrical components. These four areas control everything from the vehicle's lights, CD/DVD player, and heater to windows, locks, and navigation system. The automotive industry is extremely competitive; therefore, each company must continually change and improve in order to survive. New materials are constantly required to meet the reduced costs implemented by the customer, as well as, improve the function and quality of the components, while maintaining compliance with global environmental standards.


Chemistry | Environmental Health and Protection