September 28, 2023

Northwest Florida Roundup

FSU professor, researcher develops football helmet cushioning foam

Carlton Proctor | 7/26/2019

Energy-Absorbing Foam

Changchun Zeng, an associate professor and researcher at Florida State University’s High Performance Material Institute, has developed a foam that he says could provide an advanced and beneficial cushioning effect in football helmets. The foam is “auxetic” — when stretched, it becomes denser perpendicular to the way it’s being pulled.

Auxadyne, based in Keystone Heights, holds the exclusive rights to its XPF foam pad system, a technology based on Zeng’s invention. The company has received $86,688 through the NFL’s “Play Smart. Play Safe. HeadHealth TECH Challenge” campaign to identify safety products for its players.

“Contrary to conventional foams, auxetic foams become denser and harder when being hit,” says Zeng. “The harder the foam is hit, the harder it gets. As a result, auxetic foams provide a much higher energy-absorbing capability and much better protection.” The material also is capable of being shaped into curves, making it suitable for use in helmets.

Triumph Gulf Coast has approved $20 million to help Eastern Shipbuilding improve its Nelson Street facility, where it is building Offshore Patrol Cutters for the U.S. Coast Guard. Under terms of the agreement, Panama City-based Eastern will create 900 jobs during the life of the estimated $10-billion Coast Guard contract that calls for up to 25 cutters.

Bay and Gulf counties, both struggling to deal with the damage caused by Hurricane Michael, have received special funding totaling $8.5 million from Triumph Gulf Coast, the non-profit group that distributes funds from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement. “This investment can go a long way to help the families of North Florida at a time when they need it the most,” says Triumph board member Jason Shoaf.

Construction is underway on Capital Regional Medical Center’s freestanding emergency room in northwest Tallahassee, one of two being built by the hospital. The facility will occupy six acres and will be nearly identical to a second ER to be located at Capital Circle Southeast. The two facilities will cost a total of $30 million and have a combined 24 beds. Both facilities are projected to be open by the end of this year.

Pensacola has been named to U.S. News & World Report’s top 25 list of most desirable places to live in the United States in 2019. Pensacola was No. 15 on the list, just above Asheville, N.C., and Santa Barbara, Calif.

With hundreds of Bay County homes still damaged by Hurricane Michael, home sales still rose by more than 20% during the first two quarters of 2019, according to Florida Realtors. The spike in sales was driven in large part by local and outside investors looking for discounts on damaged properties. However, median home sales price for the first half of the year was $215,000, similar to the same period in 2018. Construction is underway on Vintage Destin, a 282- unit, $58-million apartment community in Destin.

Kim and Julian MacQueen, owners of Gulf Breeze-based Innisfree Hotels, have donated $1.25 million to the Dixon School of Arts and Sciences to pay for renovations to the building. The public school will open in the fall and serve students from kindergarten to the eighth grade. Innisfree owns some two dozen hotels throughout the Southeast, Midwest and New England areas.

Heather Lindsay, mayor of Milton in Santa Rosa County, is Pensacola’s new assistant city attorney. Lindsay, who was hired by Pensacola City Attorney Susan Woolf, previously was Milton’s city attorney before being elected mayor of Milton, a part-time position.

Pensacola developer Chad Henderson is planning a $50-million redevelopment project in downtown Pensacola. The East Garden District will include a hotel, shops, restaurants and residential units within an entire city block in the heart of downtown Pensacola. Henderson says he has begun discussions with Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson about the scope of the proposed development and the impact it would have on the downtown commercial core. “We have not agreed on the details, but in concept we are absolutely very excited by what Chad is offering,” Robinson says.


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