While bicycling may be an eco-friendly form of transportation, bike helmets aren’t very sustainable: They need to be thrown out after one accident and can’t be recycled.
But London student Anirudha Rao has designed a new bike helmet that he hopes will not only make helmets more environmentally friendly, but also safer and more affordable.
Typical helmets are made from polystyrene, which Rao says distributes impact over the rider’s head instead of absorbing it. These helmets only protect a cyclist’s head in 16 percent of all crashes, according to Rao.
Rao uses corrugated cardboard to produce his new helmet, called the Kranium. Designed to allow movement and taking advantage of cardboard’s “crumbling nature,” the Kranium absorbed four times as much impact energy in test crashes as a standard helmet, according to Rao’s website.
Tests also reveal that the Kranium can withstand five crashes, making it more durable and sustainable than a typical helmet that is unusable after one accident. Rao also says that the cardboard helmet is recyclable, although impregnated with a compound to make it water-proof.
To increase safety and comfort, the Kranium can be custom-made to fit an individual cyclist, using scanned images of his or her head, Rao says. The scan will remain in the computer system, making future purchases of the helmets cheaper.