Kroeker SG, Bonin SJ, DeMarco AL, Good CA, Siegmund GP (2016). Age does not affect the material properties of expanded polystyrene liners in field-used bicycle helmets. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 138(4), 041005, pp. 1-9. doi: 10.1115/1.4032804.
Bicycle helmet foam liners absorb energy during impacts. Our goal was to determine if the impact attenuation properties of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam used in bicycle helmets change with age. Foam cores were extracted from 63 used and unused bicycle helmets from ten different models spanning an age range of 2–20 yrs. All cores were impact tested at a bulk strain rate of 195 s−1. Six dependent variables were determined from the stress–strain curve derived from each impact (yield strain, yield stress, elastic modulus, plateau slope, energy at 65% compression, and stress at 65% compression), and a general linear model was used to assess the effect of age on each dependent variable with density as a covariate.
Age did not affect any of the dependent variables; however, greater foam density, which varied from 58 to 100 kg/m3, generated significant increases in all of the dependent variables except for yield strain. Higher density foam cores also exhibited lower strains at which densification began to occur, tended to stay within the plateau region of the stress–strain curve, and were not compressed as much compared with the lower density cores. Based on these data, the impact attenuation properties of EPS foam in field-used bicycle helmets do not degrade with the age.