01.03.2023 change 01.03.2023

Scientists from Rzeszów building kinetic energy absorber

Credit: Adobe Stock Credit: Adobe Stock

Scientists at the Rzeszow University of Technology are building a kinetic energy absorber that can be used, for example, in motor vehicles as a safety shock absorber.

In construction and civil engineering, it will be used to protect the structure of buildings, in architecture - to protect elevator users during failures, and in astronautics - in landers to protect the suspension vehicle's during landing.

The scientists are working on an absorber that will absorb kinetic energy and dissipate it during collisions and impacts with high force and speed, especially in the case of speeds above 20 m/s. Dissipation of energy is the transformation of macroscopic ordered energy associated with motion into energy chaotically distributed over many degrees of freedom, most often the energy of thermal motion of particles.

Research team leader Dr. Igor Labuda from the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture of the Rzeszow University of Technology, said: “Our goal is to develop an absorber that will be used to protect vehicle users and building structures. The device can be used together with other protection measures, including crumple zones, to protect passengers and vehicles during collisions.”

Research shows that currently there are no known technologies that would enable obtaining a constant level of kinetic energy dissipation over the entire braking distance at an impact velocity exceeding 20 m/s. 

Dr. Labuda said: “Optimal use of the available braking distance is particularly important during accidents, because excessive overload or underload is the main reason for internal injuries. They often lead to death.”

In Poland in 2020, there were over 23,000 road accidents, in which almost 2,500 people died (over 10%), and 8,805 people were seriously injured. This means that there were as many as 65 fatalities per one million residents in Poland - this is the fourth highest rate in the European Union.

Stanisław Mosoń from the Department of Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics and Dr. Michał Proksa from the Department of Urban Planning and Architecture of the Rzeszow University of Technology are also working on the absorber.

According to the university: “The newly developed kinetic energy dissipation technology has already been submitted to the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland.

“Among the various types of known absorbers, only industrial hydraulic absorbers have a level of kinetic energy dissipation close to constant over the entire braking distance.

“However, during the dissipation of energy of high force (4.6705 e + 005 N) and speed (27.78 m/s = 100 km/h) collisions, these types of absorbers are currently not applicable - liquid pressure in the hydraulic shock absorber may first destroy its more delicate parts, i.e. seals and valves, and then its body.”

Scientists working on the project attempted to expand the field of application of hydraulic absorbers. The university said: “The results of computer simulations carried out at LS-DYNA show that in one of the developed variants of the absorber, about 70 percent of the kinetic energy is absorbed by hydraulic absorbers, and the remaining 30 percent is dissipated mainly by friction.”

They add that 'in order to confirm these results, it is necessary to build and test a physical prototype of this device equipped with modified hydraulic absorbers'.

The solution can fill a niche in the market of kinetic energy absorbers and expand the application range of hydraulic absorbers.

After refinement and optimisation, this innovative technology can be used, for example, in the automotive industry, where, in addition to dissipating the kinetic energy of vehicles, it could be used to protect suspension in emergency situations. It can also be used in road energy absorbing safety barriers.

The invention can be useful in construction and civil engineering to protect the structure of buildings equipped with elevated landing pads for helicopters and drones (especially during emergency landing), and in architecture to protect elevator users during a failure. 

The scientists said: “Such additional protection (installed in the elevator shaft) could cushion the impact of the falling elevator, which would increase the safety of its users.”

The technology will also be used in aviation to protect the suspension of aircrafts and drones during an emergency landing. In space, it could be used in landers to protect the suspension during landing, especially at low atmospheric pressure or no atmosphere.

The project received funding under the 3rd call for proposals for the Podkarpackie Centre of Innovation Grant Programme. (PAP)

Anna Mikołajczyk-Kłębek

amk/ zan/ kap/

tr. RL

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