Prototype helmet improves cyclist safety

Researchers have developed a more protective bicycle helmet with an outer shell made of erium, an energy-absorbing thermoplastic resin reinforced with carbon fiber.

Developed by NTU Singapore and a team of partner Alchema, the helmet prototype is claimed to reduce the amount of energy transferred to the cyclist’s head in the event of an accident and reduce the chance of serious injury.

Elium was developed by Arkema and the NTU team. This includes postdoctoral fellow Dr. Bhudolia Somen Kumar, researcher Goram Gohel, and master’s students. Elisetty Shanmuga – Developed a material molding process in collaboration with a French company.

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“The partnership with Arkema is driven by the desire to develop a new type of helmet that is stronger and safer for cyclists,” said Leong Kah Fai, a research leader in the Faculty of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “Helmets have repeatedly been proven to play an important role in reducing injury severity and death toll. Our prototype helmets have undergone a series of internationally benchmarked tests. It demonstrates its ability to provide superior protection to cyclists compared to traditional helmets. “

The results of the research by the research team are Composites Part B: Engineering..

The outer shell of a bicycle helmet is usually made of mass-produced plastic such as polycarbonate, under which is a layer of Styrofoam. The outer shell is designed to crack on impact and dissipate energy across the surface of the helmet. Second, the foam layer compresses and absorbs most of the impact energy, reducing the energy transferred to the head.

The team’s composite helmet replaces the traditional polycarbonate outer shell with a carbon fiber reinforced Elium.

This reinforcement is claimed to make the outer shell stronger, harder and less brittle than the polycarbonate shell. It also increases the contact time of the helmet. This is the total impact time that the helmet receives the impact load.

“I noticed that when the helmet hits the surface at high speed, there is deformation with the failure of the composite shell to spread, which means that the outer shell is loading more and absorbing more energy. “I will,” said Dr. Somen in a statement. “This is really necessary. The greater the impact absorbed by the shell, the less impact it will reach the foam and therefore the overall impact on the head. With existing polycarbonate helmets, about energy. We found that 75% was absorbed by the foam, which is not ideal because it is in direct contact with the human head. “

According to NTU Singapore, the team’s composite helmet shell absorbed more than 50% of the impact energy in the test, and the foam absorbed much less energy at about 35%.

Prototype helmets are said to be not only safe, but also easy to manufacture. Since Elium is a liquid at ambient temperature, it can be molded at room temperature, in contrast to other thermoplastic-based composite shells that require high temperature treatment.

NTU researchers are working with Alchema to commercialize the helmet manufacturing process, allowing interested manufacturers to manufacture helmets. Associate Professor Leong said helmets manufactured in their way offer the same protection as current top tier helmets, but could be the price of mid tier helmets ($ 100- $ 150). Said. Prototype helmet improves cyclist safety

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