Development of granular-medium-based energy management system for automotive bumper applications
Mwangi, Maina Festus
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Automotive bumpers are installed primarily to minimize damage and harm to both the automobile and passengers during minor and low speed collisions. The efficacy of the current bumper systems lies in absorbing the impact energy. The primary mechanism for energy absorption is damage. In this study an attempt is made to shift from this traditional design platform by exploring non-destructive energy dissipation mechanisms. In pursuit of this, an alternative bumper system that simulates human-arm ergonomic response to impact has been proposed. The system capitalizes on the characteristic dissipative mechanics of granular media. A mathematical model describing the dissipative mechanics of the system is presented. The model shows that granular media can be used effectively to re-direct the impulse wave away from its axis of incidence. The resulting effect is that the impulse wave is attenuated through the thickness. A second mathematical model, based on the Concept of Energy Balance has been developed. Here, the total impact energy is shown to be absorbed or dissipated by the individual components of the system. The largest component of this energy is taken up by sliding and rotation of the granular media. Both models are validated by experimentation. A prototype system has been built and tested. The system effectively manages impact energy with minimal or no damage to the constituent components. The system demonstrates an ability to recover dimensionally when loaded under FMVSS conditions.