A 'pedestrian-friendly' car bonnet design that could reduce fatalities and serious injuries in car accidents is being jointly developed in an industry-academia collaboration.
The design is being assessed by leading motor manufacturers intereted in taking the concept into commercial production.
Impact absorption specialists Cellbond, a division of Encocam Ltd in Huntingdon, have teamed up with researchers at Anglia Ruskin University to develop and test the new bonnet.
Pedestrians account for 20 per cent of all traffic fatalities in Europe and 14 per cent in the US - the majority caused by head impacts.
Statistically 65 per cent of pedestrians impacting or rolling on the bonnet of a car travelling above 40mph are killed or suffer serious injury.
In such a crash the pedestrian is initially impacted by the car and then by the ground. Most fatalities and head injuries occur when there is insufficient clearance between the bonnet and stiff underlying engine components.
The new bonnet has been designed by Cellbond's Dr Mehrdad Asadi in research collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University's Engineering Simulation Analysis and Tribology (EAST) Group.
The design utilises an aluminium mechanical energy absorber. Its works via a sheet of metal etched into a grid format so that, on impact, it collapses inwards - absorbing the impact energy with less resultant reaction forces which causes the impact injury.
Professor Hassan Shirvani, director of Anglia Ruskin University's EAST group, said: “During an impact the pedestrian exerts a dynamic force on the car bonnet. If the kinetic energy of the impact is not absorbed the bonnet will exert equal amount of the force that impacts it, causing injury to the body.
“The majority of car test standards and protocols use the 'Head Impact Criteria' to measure the severity of such impact on human heads and restrict the criterion to certain numbers.
“The Cellbond solution has been tested and verified in a EuroNCAP certified test house. Test results show that this Cellbond design reduces the ‘head impact criteria’ by 50-60 per cent, hence the energy is absorbed in the collapsing structure.”
Cellbond, established in 1988, provides solutions across a wide range of industries including automotive, rail and marine. It offers a full range of aluminium honeycomb deformable crash test barriers.
The company has a sales office in the US and agents in Japan, Korea and China.