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The Chemistry of a Football Helmet

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Carson Platt

on 10 January 2015

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Transcript of The Chemistry of a Football Helmet

The Chemistry in a Football Helmet
By: Carson Platt
What Chemistry in football helmets?
1/3 of retired NFL players are said to experience brain trauma and long term mental damage (cite brain trauma). Because of this, there was a need to develop a light, durable (
), and hopefully concussion preventable helmet. The football helmet is a
solid used to protect ones head from contact. Since Walter Camp invented football in 1876 (cite nndb) there have been a variety of helmets that not only look good, but reduce the risk of concussions. Each helmet created using the science,
deals with the materials of the universe and the
Football Helmet Evolution
Hard Leather Helmet
Plastic Helmet
1960's: Padded Solid Plastic single bar cage
1970's: Padded, face mask with full cage
1980's: More protection added to football helmets
Modern Day: A light, thickly padded, flexible helmet that helps reduce the risk of concussion
Hard Leather Helmets, 1920's
Plastic Innovation, 1940's-50's
Padded Plastic with full Cage, 1960's-1980's
Modern Football Tech
Why this Topic?
Why are football helmets important? In Chemistry and the real world
What I learned
Soft leather helmets were worn.
- Very durable and flexible increasing safety and decreasing the risk of injury (cite prezi football).
- Chemical processes: tanning (converts protein from a raw hide into a stable material (cite leather)) liming ( a
chemical change
causing collagen from the skin to swell ) deliming (removes
from the pelt material in the leather that “deswells the fiber (cite leather)), re-tanning (helps to create a soft and flexible leather), drying, shaving, splitting, dyeing, and stuffing.
- After the prepping the leather, there is mechanical finishing, polishing, ironing, embossing, tumbling (creates a smooth surface), and a chemical finishing (using various chemicals to obtain a smooth surface)(cite leather).

-1939- John T. Riddell invents the first plastic football helmet
-This invention became known as the turning point for the future of the football helmet.
-The plastic was much more
flexible, durable (intensive)
, and safer than the leather helmets were.
-1940, the first Riddell prototype was made.
- Made from vinylite which was a compound of
vinyl chloride(compound) and vinyl acetate(compound)
- The first college to wear these helmets was the United States Military Academy, Westpoint, in 1944 (cite isis).
- In 1954, a new helmet was made called the Riddell Kralite.
-This helmet was made from
acrylonitrile butadiene styrene
- Marbon Corp, the innovator of this plastic, also created a one piece helmet which reduced helmets from splitting after a collision (cite isis).

The history of chemicals and the football helmet (The history of chemicals and the football helmet)

Brain Trauma to Affect One in Three Players, N.F.L. Agrees (The New York Times)
By: Belson, Ken.

Walter Camp (Walter Camp)

The leather production process (Production tan leather)

Chemistry of the football helment (prezi.com)

The Chemistry of a Football Helmet - www.ChemistryIsLife.com (The Chemistry of a Football Helmet - www.ChemistryIsLife.com)

Riddell's Speedflex football helmet flexes to absorb the hits (Riddell's Speedflex football helmet flexes to absorb the hits)

- Cushion started to be added to the football helmets.
- Riddell used vinyl and foam aero-cell as the cushioning for the interior of the helmet (cite isis).
- Riddell started to experiment with polycarbonate, PC. This did not last long because of the frailty, and the inability to deal with this tech yet.
- Later replaced with Kra-lite II which was a PC
(cite isis).
- 1980's- the interior of the Kra-lite II was equiped with air/
inflatable cushions. This helped absorb impact before the impact reaches the head.

Modern day football helmets are made from a polycarbonate shell ([HO+2(CH3)+C+OH+CO]+Cl2) which is a material that is very durable and ductile (cite prezi football, cite compositions) making it significantly lighter. The padding inside of the helmet is made from polyurethane (with the
chemical formula
), the interior of the helmet is made from a synthetic rubber (with the
chemical formula
, C4H6), and most facemasks are made from Titanium (cite compositions). In 2002, Riddell tech invents a concussion preventable helmet called the "Riddell Revolution", a helmet also made from a polycarbonate shell (cite isis). In 2014, Riddell introduced its newest helmet, the Riddell Speed Flex. The face mask of the helmet was strategically designed to attach to the helmet at four points. This helps to distribute the impact force to various places around the head rather than just the players forehead (cite gizmag).
As a former football player, I was curious about how the sport could be safer to play. I found it interesting how I never got a concussion in my years of playing football (running-back, and linebacker). I wanted to learn the reasoning, science, and chemistry behind protective football helmets and the evolution leading up to the Riddell Speedflex.
Chemistry: Football helmets are important in chemistry because as we continue to learn more about chemistry, advancements will be made in creating safer and more protective football helmets (as seen in the evolution of the helmet).

Real World: As football becomes more violent and more physical, we must come up with ways to decrease the risk of injury and concussion. Creating protective football helmets will reduce the risk of brain trauma and life long mental damage.
Who would think something as simple as a football helmet could be related to chemistry? This project helped me to learn that everything in the universe can be related back to chemistry. Every material that makes up the composition of a football helmet involves a chemical process. Every new innovation to create a more protective football helmet involves combing two or more elements in a fixed proportion to create something new. I learned the process of creating leather, the introduction to plastic, and the evolution of the football helmet. Basically, every single concept I talked about in this presentation, I learned.
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