On the Design of Energy Absorbing Crash Buffers for High Speed Roadways

The aim of this paper is to design and analyze cost-effective and high energy absorbing buffer systems for high speed roadways. Unlike conventional crash cushions, the proposed buffer design is based on the assembly of a series of cylindrical hollow tubes (cells) with thorough slots around the cells. The idea is that during the collisions, the kinetic energy of the errant vehicles will be absorbed by the progressive deformation of the cells, hence minimizing damage to the vehicle and allowing a comfortable ride down deceleration of the vehicle’s occupants. As the cell was the fundamenta unit of the buffer design, three cells with different geometry were studied to understand the underlying deformation of the individual cells. Nonlinear quasi-static tests using three-dimensional (3D) finite element (FE) simulation and experimental techniques were performed to evaluate the deformation and energy absorption capacity of the cells. Simulation results matched closely with experimental ones with relatively small errors. Based on the experimental results of single cells, a number of potential buffer systems were designed for 80 and 100 km/h speed roadways. Results indicate that the buffers with larger diameter cells are favorable to be used in high speed zones as they reduce the overall size of buffers and contain less number of cells, while being able to absorb the required amount of impact energy. Consequently, they are found to result in a reduced cost associated with materials and fabrication. All the buffer designs were relatively shorter than commercially available buffers used in roadways. In addition, due to their reduced and compact size, the designed buffers can potentially be used in a space limited and hazardous road environment to reduce the vehicle crash with the fixed objects.


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  • Accession Number: 01600794
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 24 2016 9:24AM