Nissan has used Japanese university research on cerebral blood flow to design Forest A/C, a climate control system that produces breeze-like airflow with rainforest wood and plant life aromas. New sensors detect interior and exterior odors, and a high-performance filter and ionizer contribute to air purification.
Can a car's climate control system really produce the mental atmosphere of a forest? Many systems in recent years, such as Denso's "neural network," have been programmed to continuously regulate temperature and airflow, and have included hardware to clean and ionize the cabin air. But a new Nissan Forest A/C system, developed with the Tokyo University of Science and based on research that measured mental activity, goes even further.
Forest A/C was engineered from the results of a university project that measured cerebral blood flow changes as indicators of relaxed yet focused mental activity in test subjects being exposed to the airflow and aroma stimuli.
The sophisticated new system will appear first on the new Infiniti M and the Nissan Fuga, a Japanese-market model on which the Infiniti is based, as the Infiniti brand is not sold there. Both will be introduced late this year.
The A/C computer controls blower motor speed and operates HVAC case flaps to create gentle airflow that randomly changes rate through the HVAC registers, to replicate natural breezes. Like some existing premium systems, the A/C varies intake airflow rate and temperature according to sun load on each side of the car, to provide comparable comfort for all occupants. The "breezes" carry the forest aroma through the cabin.
The aroma is nothing like the perfume-type scents emitted by air fresheners that hang from rearview mirrors or fit into air-conditioning registers. Instead, Forest A/C has an aroma cartridge containing borneol, a compound made from fragrant Kapur (a rainforest wood), lavender, and essential oils, plus leaf alcohol, which is believed to be a relaxant. It also has been proven to reduce fatigue, according to Nissan. The cartridge has an estimated one-year life.
The HVAC system uses a humidity sensor and the intake air control, computer-controlled to keep cabin humidity within a 35-55% range. This contrasts with conventional A/C dehumidification that may produce an uncomfortably dry cabin atmosphere—about 20% humidity or lower.
In addition to the exhaust gas/hydrocarbon exterior sensor used on many vehicles, the Infiniti M system has an exterior sensor that can detect animal and other odors, and an interior knee-level sensor that can sense cigarette smoke and other malodors. To clear the air, the HVAC uses both the intake airflow control and a high-performance filter that incorporates a medium impregnated with grapeseed polyphenol, a design proved in premium household air-conditioning.
The Infiniti M system also has a Sharp Plasmacluster ionizer that achieves ion densities 10 times higher than one used on the Infiniti EX crossover (and Japan-market Nissan Skyline), and is more effective in antibacterial performance.