ECCB 14Online Magazine

Review Of Energy Absorbing Materials For Automobiles

Back in the day, automobiles were made of steel. There weren’t loud radios, or even heaters and air conditioners. They lacked a lot of perks. Also, they were heavy and didn’t have a lot of power either, so they were fairly slow. That being said, even though there was a higher ratio of wrecks, driving was generally safer. There were far fewer fatalities. Nowadays, car crashes have much more devastating effects on our lives. This has something to do with increased speed, but also, more cars are being made with fiberglass and plastic composites. These offer much less resistance to high velocity impacts. The newer materials used by car manufacturers have some benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked, though, such as lower manufacture cost and lighter weights. So, going back to the heavy metal of the past isn’t the best solution overall. There are people working on a solution and innovations have been made toward creating energy absorbing materials that can be added to the frame of a vehicle post production. These materials have been shown to absorb quite a bit of shock.

When I first heard about some of these innovations, I became intrigued and decided to learn as much as I could. One of the most prevalent shock absorbent materials that has been developed is made of polystyrene foam, which is easy to shape, and can even be made to fit the internal form of an object, if introduced during the manufacturing process. It has proved to be useful so far, and has already been added to a number of vehicles in the bumpers, headliners, knee bolsters, and some other places. Most of the suppliers only sell in massively large quantities, so I can’t purchase any for my own vehicle yet.

The creation of these materials does have some implications that I need to take into consideration the next time I’m in the market for a new vehicle. Personally, I enjoy the security of driving older vehicles that are made out of steel. Most of these vehicles, though, are maintenance money pits, and finding one with decent gas mileage is nearly impossible. But with some of these new compounds that have been developed, some of these fiberglass vehicles stand a much greater chance of protecting me in an impact. These materials don’t add a lot of weight to a vehicle, so there’s very little effect on gas mileage. They will make travelling safer, and prevent many deaths if implemented on a large scale in the future.

There are a lot of other benefits to these new materials as well. They can be used to fill internal gaps that could reduce the efficiency of heaters and air conditioners as well. This has to reduce the cost of fuel, as well as maintenance, as these components would not have to work nearly as hard. Perhaps maintaining a well-insulated vehicle could increase the life of a heater coil, or extend the use of a single charge of frion. There are other possible benefits, including human comfort. I’ve had vehicles that had weak a/c’s in 100 degree heat. If every bit of that weak a/c had been captured, it would have been a lot more tolerable than without.

They also absorb a lot of sound. This is pretty cool when I think of sitting in traffic with huge subwoofers and loud mufflers roaring right next to me. I am really looking forward to having a built-in sound baffle surrounding me as I sit in traffic. Think of it; as I’m going through construction zones or pulling over for emergency vehicles, I could have a sound barrier built in to the door of my vehicle. I think that may even prevent some accidents.

Needless to say, this is some pretty exciting technology. When I first heard of these new materials, I was not expecting to be very impressed, but the creators have managed to address a number of issues with a single solution. These materials absorb high-velocity impacts, insulate the empty cavities, create comfortable sound barriers, and have a highly dense, lightweight design. Hopefully when the next generation of people has grown up, every vehicle will come with these materials. Be on the look out for new innovations in impact-resistant technology the next time you go car shopping.

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