Design and analysis of a composite beam for side-impact protection of occupants in a sedan

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Sheshadri, Ashwin
Lankarani, Hamid M.
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Occupant safety in automobiles over the last few decades has become a very important research area where in continuous developments to improve is proposed everyday. New standards are set in pertinent to different crash scenarios such as the frontal crash, side impact, angled impact and so on. Among these standards, side impact is one of the fatal crash scenarios that lead to death of scores of people in the United States and across the globe. Side Impact beams are used in the doors to help protect the occupant being the victim of a crash. In the contemporary world, fuel consumption also poses a serious issue that has to be considered. With these constraints in consideration, a lighter and stronger material than steel, the composite material, can be used in the side door. Using this material would help in reducing the fuel efficiency without sacrificing the safety of the vehicle. In this research, a composite side impact beam is designed to replace the present beam and the injuries sustained by the occupant are recorded. An attempt is made to use Carbon/Epoxy and Glass fiber/epoxy composite materials in the beam designed in this study. In addition, a parametric study is carried out on the beam to determine the maximum possible energy absorbing parameters. It is demonstrated that the new design with the use of carbon/epoxy with a pertinent orientation and thickness may present more energy absorption than the present steel beam. Energy absorption, displacement and the acceleration of the present and the new design are also compared and discussed in detail. Occupant injuries, such as chest and head injuries are compared for the vehicle occupants with present and the new designed beam. It is demonstrated that the new designed composite beam with carbon/epoxy may be more effective than the present steel beam. With the advance in computer simulations, finite element (FE) model of the Ford Taurus and Moving Deformable Barrier (MDB) developed by the National Crash Analysis Center (NCAC) has been used for different impact scenarios to predict the vehicle behavior and occupant response. In addition, MSC Patran has been used as the modeler and LS-Dyna as the solver to run the required simulations. MADYMO is used to predict the injury parameters.

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Thesis (M.S.)--Wichita State University, College of Engineering, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
"May 2006."
Includes bibliographic references (leaves 121-123)
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