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Impact analysis calculations

  1. Mar 18, 2009 #1
    I would like to design a lightening pole to be installed on the street (or in parking lots).
    The height of the pole is about 1m.

    I would like to calculate the impact of a car heating the pole in order to evaluate the damage to the pole (and to the car).

    I know the car mass (1000-2500[kg]), and the car velocity (10-30 [km/hr]).
    Therefore I can calculate the kinetic energy at impact.

    I would like to know how do I calculate the damage on the pole, or what are the forces and energies it feels.

    TIA, D
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2009 #2
    You have to be a lot more specific about the nature of the impact to even start making reasonable guesses.
  4. Mar 19, 2009 #3
    The scenario is a car heating a steel pole.
    The Pole height is about 1m. The car's speed is between 10-30km/h.
    I would like to know the impact on the pole.
    The pole is fixed to the pavement on a concrete tile with 4 screws.

    Does that make more sense?
  5. Mar 19, 2009 #4
    Before you can begin to assume a realistic scenario, you'd wanna know how much of the energy is absorbed, by the car crumbling. Then you could probably guestimate the forces acting on a beam (the light post) then moving on to the forces exerted on the four bolts.
  6. Mar 19, 2009 #5
    How do I know the energy absorbed by the car?
    I guess each fender have a different energy absorbtion.
  7. Mar 19, 2009 #6
    You need to specify how high off the ground the contact occurs, what the mass distribution of the steel pole is, the stiffness and energy absorption of the front end of the car (as mentioned by Claws), etc.

    Does the car strike the pole on a fender, on the bumper, is it head on or at an angle, etc.?
  8. Mar 19, 2009 #7
    The car will hit the pole by it's fender, can I find an estimation of how much energy the fender absorb?
    The pole geomentry is a rectangular, but it's installed in such a way that the fender hits the corner of the rectangular.
    The pole material is SAE1020, how can I calculae the profile stiffness and energy absorption?
  9. Mar 19, 2009 #8
    You still did not mention how high off the ground this impact occurs.

    Why don't you go push on a few fenders and see how stiff they are? I think you will find that some are stiffer than others, so which fender is going to participate in this impact? The energy absorption depends on the structure supporting the fender as well as the fender itself; have you identified that?

    The whole point is this: The problem you pose is not a simple problem at all. Consultants get paid very, very well to solve this problem for specific cases where all of the conditions are very fully specified. They do lots of FEA modeling and employ much proprietary data on energy absorption. You will get no general solution to an ill defined problem; it does not exist.
  10. Mar 19, 2009 #9
    the impact occurs between 35-60 cm above ground
  11. Mar 19, 2009 #10
    Dr. D
    When I install a pole in a parking lot, there are many types of cars going in and out.
    I don't know which will tackle my pole, and I am aware of that the fender energy absorption differs from one another.
    However the material and geomatry of the pole is my design which I can calculate.
    I would like to do some guestimate to have a general idea of what the pole will absorb.
    The model should be same as a lamppost.
    btw - do you know any o fthe experts you have mentioned?
  12. Mar 19, 2009 #11
    Look under Consulting Engineers - Accident Reconstruction. They will burn through your design budget in a flash. Mostly they work for lawyers in settling law suits.
  13. Mar 19, 2009 #12
    I need engineering assistance.
    Gladly I still don't have a law suit standing against me.
    I was wondering with which tool I can module this problem.
  14. Mar 19, 2009 #13


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    Dalit: What are the cross-sectional dimensions (mm) and wall thickness of your lighting pole rectangular tube? What is the mass (kg) of the lighting assembly on the top end of your pole? What are the dimensions and thickness of your pole rectangular base plate, and what are the bolt hole spacing dimensions?
  15. Mar 19, 2009 #14
    Just go for worst case scenario and assume an infinitely stiff impact, all the impact energy is absorbed by the pole and acts at the point of impact. That simplifies the problem, you can work out the stresses in the beam and then those at the bolts. This will give an over estimate on the damage to the pole.

    From what i've seen of people running into parking bollards at relatively low speed (5mph) is that the concrete fails before the bolts do. Above that speed, well I just dont know what would happen.
  16. Mar 22, 2009 #15
    Hi nvn,
    The rectangular external dimensions are 18X18cm. Wall thickness of the pole is 2.5mm.
    The overall weight of the unit is about 20Kg.

    The pole base is a concrete tile. It is assembled to the floor using 4 - 8X0.5inch nuts.
    spacing dimesnions are 30cm

    Attached top view of the impact scenario as I see it.
  17. Mar 22, 2009 #16
    I can calculate the energy at impact at different speeds.
    I having trouble converting the energy into force that impact the pole.
    considering worst case scenario that no energy is absorb by the car's fender.
  18. Mar 22, 2009 #17
    You need to know how long the impact event takes. You can then use this along with the momentum to find the force.

    Its called the impulse momentum theorem

    F dt = d(mv)
  19. Mar 22, 2009 #18
    I can only guess that the impact will take 1 or 2 seonds.
    I guess the velocity of the car will be zero after the impact.
    So I have the force that hits the pole.
    Can I use that and convert the problem to a static force problem with the calculated force?
  20. Mar 22, 2009 #19


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    Dalit: You say the overall mass is 20 kg, but what is the mass of only the lighting assembly, attached to the top of the pole?

    In post 1, you said the pole height is 1 m. Is that correct?

    You said the pole base is a concrete tile, but is the pole cast (encastre, encased, embedded) into the concrete? Or does the pole have a welded steel base plate, and the steel base plate is bolted to the concrete tile with four nuts? What are the dimensions and thickness of the concrete tile? What are the dimensions and thickness of the steel base plate? How is the steel base plate attached to your square pole, and the dimensions of this attachment?
  21. Mar 22, 2009 #20
    The pole mass, total weigth, include external case and electrical components is about 20Kg.
    The pole height is about 75-80cm, a bit less than 1m, that is correct.
    The pole is not casted it's bolted by 4 screws, the concrete tile is secured to the pavement by 4 5/8" nuts.
    The concrete tile thickness is about 8cm and the steel base is 2.5mm.
    The plate is soldered to the pole. The pole is attached by 4 screws to the concrete plate.
  22. Mar 22, 2009 #21


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    Dalit: What are the dimensions of the 2.5-mm-thick steel base plate, and what are the steel plate bolt hole spacing dimensions? What is the bolt size (shank diameter) of the four bolts in the steel base plate?
  23. Mar 22, 2009 #22
    The plate is 178X178mm.
    Bolt spacing is 130X130mm (4 bolts)
    shank diameter is 15mm.
  24. Mar 22, 2009 #23
    Attach is the pole design and the hitting scenario

    Attached Files:

  25. Mar 22, 2009 #24
    The impact time would be measured in tenths of seconds say .2-.5s (this needs to be measured empirically if you are doing it properly). As we've simplified the model to a rigid body elastic collision the car would transfer all of its meaningful energy almost the instant it hits the pole.
  26. Mar 22, 2009 #25
    Dalit, the reason you are having trouble with this is that there is no definite relation between the initial energy and the maximum force developed. It all depends upon the details of the impact. One of the key factors is how long does the impact last. Is it 0.1 milliseconds or is it 10 milliseconds, or something in between? It makes a huge difference as to what the maximum force is. Remember that the impulse, the integral of the force of interaction between your post and the car taken over the length of the impact time, must be enough to bring the car to rest.

    Let the speed of the car be V before impact, M be the mass of the car, and let the impact interval be deltaT. Then the average (not the maximum, but the average) force that acts between the post and the car is
    Favg*deltaT = Mcar*v
    Favg = (Mcar*V)/deltaT

    By GUESSING any number we like for deltaT, we can get Favg as large or as small as we want. Until you know something about the nature of the impact and in particular the time duration of the impact, you are flying blind on the force estimate.
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