Mind & Matter


New Composite for Safer Collisions

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Splintering in conventional composite materials. Photo:  W. R. Howell.


The switch from steel to lighter, more complex composites in automobiles has resulted in higher fuel efficiencies. However, these materials have demonstrated an imperfect response to collisions, resulting in sharp, splintered fragments that can increase occupant injury—as opposed to the ideal crumpled mass that adds a protective layer of reinforcement.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) have recently developed a new type of thermoplastic-fiber composite that is lightweight and non-splintering. In the event of a collision, the new material undergoes viscoelastic deformation without fragmentation. Moreover, the researchers claim the new technology will be half the cost of thermoset composites currently in use.



Comments (1 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 6:08 PM Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    wow. safety at less cost. with those benefits there is sure to be a stampede against it.

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.