Infill Migration: Can It Be Predicted in the Laboratory?

The potential European ban on rubber crumb infill has drawn keen interest from owners, manufacturers, and suppliers seeking measures that can mitigate infill migration. Even if a ban is implemented, there is already a requirement — EN 17519:2020 Surfaces for Sports Areas, Synthetic Turf Sports Facilities Guidance on How to Minimize Infill Dispersion into the Environment– for all current fields containing rubber crumb infill (pitches) to install measures to prevent the infill from leaving the field enclosure.

Turf infill can migrate into the surrounding grounds, settle in or around drains, or get stuck to shoes and clothing and be taken off-site.

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But what if there was a way to identify the likelihood of a turf system ejecting rubber crumb from the turf system? What if the risk could be identified using a laboratory method that provides an index for this potential issue? It would mean that designers, consultants, and owners could choose turf systems that can retain infill, thus reducing the investment required to prevent infill from leaving enclosures.

UK- based Sports Labs Ltd. is conducting laboratory research to identify turf systems that are good at retaining the infill applied.

infillIn one laboratory test, Sports Labs used the Lisport XL wear simulating machine to replicate the wear patterns observed on a real sports field after years of usage. During the wearing process, some infill is displaced. By carefully collecting the infill and weighing it, the amount of infill which is able to migrate out of the sample can be measured.

A second laboratory study used splash test imaging software which replicates the infill displacement from a single ball bounce impact on the surface. Recent studies suggest that installed fields can show a lower splash value when compared with the same surface tests in a laboratory.

Based on its research, Sports Labs has identified some key elements in a turf system to prevent infill migration in a field. Low free pile height is a key factor as more free pile contains the infill. Turf configuration and infill type/size/quantity have a direct impact on the mobility of the infill. Footwear, the interaction with or blade/rounded stud flat sole will have a direct impact on disrupting the infill. Moisture condition and grooming/maintenance also impact infill movement, Sports Labs found.

© Scrap Tire News, February 2021