Self-powered sensors track firefighters during blazes

The motion-powered sensors can track people who work in high-risk environments.

    2019/03/06

NSFW    HAMILTON, CANADA — Researchers have created a motion-powered, fireproof sensor that can track movements of people who work in high-risk environments like firefighters, steelworkers and miners, according to a McMaster University press release.
McMasters researchers, working with partners at other colleges, have created a low-cost sensor that is about the size of a button-cell battery.
According to the release, the sensors can 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 energy the sensor needs to function.
By harvesting electricity from movement, the sensor uses triboelectric, or friction-generated, charging for power.
The sensors can track the movement and location of a person in a burning building, a mineshaft or other hazardous locations, alerting those outside if movement stops.
The key material in the sensor, a new carbon aerogel nanocomposite, is fireproof and never needs charging from a power source.
The sensors have been successfully tested at temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius without any loss of function.
The development team—from McMaster, UCLA and University of Chemistry and Technology Prague—describes the new device in a paper published in the journal Nano Energy.
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