Assessing the effectiveness of a natural cellular material used as safety padding material in motorcycle helmets

R.A. De Sousa, D. Gonçalves, R. Coelho, F. Teixeira-Dias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The efficiency of cork as a material dedicated to energy absorption under impact loading is studied in the present work. The viability of the application of micro-agglomerate cork (MAC) padding on a motorcycle helmet, is studied using finite element simulations of impact tests, considering the specifications of the European Standard ECE-R.22/05.Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a widely used material, with excellent results in energy-absorption applications. However, after a first impact, the capability of EPS for energy absorption is significantly decreased, due to the almost total absence of elastic springback. However, cork is a material characterized by having both a good energy-absorption capability and high elastic return, due to its viscoelastic behavior, meaning that its capacity to keep absorbing energy is almost unchanged after the first impact.In this work, a three-dimensional numerical model of the helmet-head system is developed, including the outer shell, safety padding and the head, together with its interactions and constitutive models suitable for the analyzed materials. Results show that the developed models can adequately reproduce the behavior of EPS and MAC, in the context of a preliminary analysis.The referred helmet-headform is then submitted to impacts at different points, as specified by the European Standard. The results from helmeted impacts with EPS padding are compared against experimental values. The application of MAC in the protective padding of the helmet is studied and the results, concerning the acceleration of the gravity center of the head, Head Injury Criterion (HIC) values and kinetic energy are presented. Results obtained with EPS and MAC are compared and discussed. Concerning cork, although the maximum acceleration values of the headform and the HIC values were not verified to be within the established limits of the regulatory standard, the results are promising, launching a sound basis for a more thorough work on the application of cork as a new material for advanced applications as an energy-absorption system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-591
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012


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