Developing fireproof sensor to keep high-risk workers safe
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McMaster University researchers, working with partners at other universities, have created a motion-powered, fireproof sensor that can track the movements of firefighters, steelworkers, miners and others who work in high-risk environments where they cannot always be seen.

The low-cost sensor is about the size of a button-cell watch battery and can easily be incorporated into the sole of a boot or under the arm of a jacket – wherever motion creates a pattern of constant contact and release to generate the power the sensor needs to operate.

The sensor uses friction-generated charging, and can track the movement and location of a person in a burning building, a mineshaft or other hazardous environment, alerting someone outside if the movement ceases.

The researchers explain that previously developed self-powered sensors have allowed similar tracking, but their materials break down at high temperatures, rendering them useless. A self-powered sensor is necessary in extreme heat because most batteries also break down in high temperatures. The researchers have successfully tested the new technology at temperatures up to 300C – the temperature where most types of wood start to burn – without any loss of function.

For more information, visit McMaster University’s Brighter World.

“If somebody is unconscious and you are unable to find them, this could be very useful. The nice thing is that because it is self-powered, you don’t have to do anything. It scavenges power from the environment.”
Ravi Selvaganapathy
McMaster University Mechanical Engineering Professor
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