An Exploration of Jute-Polyester Composite for Vehicle Head Impact Safety Countermeasures 2018-01-0844
Natural fiber-reinforced composites are currently gaining increasing attention as potential substitutes to pervasive synthetic fiber-reinforced composites, particularly glass fiber-reinforced plastics (GFRP). The advantages of the former category of composites include (a) being conducive to occupational health and safety during fabrication of parts as well as handling as compared to GFRP, (b) economy especially when compared to carbon fiber-reinforced composites (CFRC), (c) biodegradability of fibers, and (d) aesthetic appeal. Jute fibers are especially relevant in this context as jute fabric has a consistent supply base with reliable mechanical properties. Recent studies have shown that components such as tubes and plates made of jute-polyester (JP) composites can have competitive performance under impact loading when compared with similar GFRP-based structures. Drawing from this potential, the current study utilizes a combination of testing and CAE (computer-aided engineering) to demonstrate that trims made of jute composite can be effective countermeasures for vehicle upper interior head impact safety protection. To this end, a methodical approach is adopted according to which results obtained from tensile, compressive, and three-point bending tests for specimens extracted from a seven-ply jute laminate are initially utilized for validation of constitutive modeling of the said composite in LS-DYNA, which is then followed by CAE-based assessment of head impact performance of jute composite trim attached to an A-pillar component. A previously validated finite element model of a featureless Hybrid III headform has been used. The results obtained here indicate that HIC(d) (Head Injury Criterion (dummy)) values well below 1000 can be obtained underlining the potential of jute composite as an effective material for vehicle interior trim conforming to the extended FMVSS 201 requirement in the United States.