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Purdue Univ. Researcher Introduces New Plastic Bobsledding Track

This is a traditional bobsledding track.

With the winter Olympics around the corner, one Indiana researcher is looking at ways to make bobsledding accessible to all Hoosiers.

Jan-Anders Mansson is a distinguished professor for materials science in chemical and aeronautical engineering at Purdue University. He started his research three years ago when he was living in Switzerland.

Mansson’s research explores ways of replacing traditional bobsled tracks with a lubricated plastic surfacing. He says incorporating his model will do more than just help the environment.

“We need to increase accessibility which is a big issue for all Olympic sports. It’s part of the measure of a good sport – How accessible is it for young people to do this sport? And that we will reach here,” he says.

Mansson says the sport is expensive costing around $100 million dollars to build the tracks and $1 million dollars a year to maintain them.

But he says his model allows for the same speed, with a fraction of the cost.

“So we are talking about making it half the length,” Mansson says. “We also took into cost for the transportation of the tracks between an event and back to the resorts. We can reduce it with a 60 to 70 percent as well – we can reduce the cost.”

Mansson’s model incorporates a water misted plastic surface opposed to the traditional ice tracks that have cooling pipes below the surface.

Mansson says he doesn’t think it’s unrealistic to see his model used in the next 6 to 8 years.

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