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InfrastructureGuardrails made safer with impact-absorbing Mediterranean tapeweed coating

Published 11 October 2013

Researchers have developed protective guardrails from residue of Posidonia oceanica,commonly known as Neptune Grass or Mediterranean tapeweed, in order to minimize the risk of injuries on the roads. The waste material is useful for coating the support posts of guard rails on roads so they can absorb and dissipate much of the kinetic energy if a collision occurs, preventing lacerations and amputations in cases in which a human body hits the support post.

Researchers at the University of Alicante developed protective guardrails from residue of Posidonia oceanica, commonly known as Neptune Grass or Mediterranean tapeweed, in order to minimize the risk of injuries on the roads.

The technology, patented by the research group Tecnología de Materiales y Territorio, is useful for coating the support posts of guard rails on roads so they can absorb and dissipate much of the kinetic energy if a collision occurs, preventing lacerations and amputations in cases in which a human body hits the support post.

An RUVID release reports that the device consists of an impact-absorbing coating made from a mixture of Posidonia oceanica residue with organic or inorganic hydraulic binders.

This mixture, explains Professor José Miguel Saval Perez, who headed the research, “is done by kneading the previously dry waste components and binder, later adding water and prolonging their kneading. After the mixing, the material is introduced into a mold which produces compaction. Then we immediately proceed to the demolding of the part, allowing it to cure at room temperature. ”

We also provide for the use of additives such as commercial dyes compatible with the binder used, so that the color can be varied depending on the absorber signaling needs and the environment through which the communication path passes” adds José Miguel Saval.

Tests have been conducted for the impact energy absorption of 4,116 joules, that is, the absorption of the impact of a body weighing 75 kg, which smashes into the bracket at an approximate speed of 38 km/hour. Additional tests were performed under load deformation, with results suggesting that the material absorbs about 40 percent of the load transmitted.

The option of using Posidonia oceanica residue feedstock for the shock absorber provides an alternative use of such waste, while avoiding raising the economic and environmental costs of manufacturing safer guardrails and barriers.