ELECTRICAL POWER GENERATION FROM NON-CONTINUOUS FLOW IN A SELF-CONTAINED BREATHING APPARATUS
In recent times, the number of electronic devices utilized by firefighters has greatly increased. Currently, all of this equipment relies heavily upon batteries as a source of power. The purpose of this research was to investigate alternate methods for powering the electrical functions of an SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus). Replacing the batteries with a self-sufficient source of constant power is attractive for its characteristics of both reliability and cost efficiency. Maintenance of charged batteries and the logistics problem of an SCBA arriving at the scene unable to operate create an environment which is certainly unreliable and potentially quite dangerous. By relying on a maintenance-free, constant source of power, the jobs of fire departments could be made easier, and the lives of firefighters safer.
The energy source for the power generation was to be the pressurized air stored in tanks on the firefighters backs. Many methods were considered for the ground-up design, but selected was the concept of an inline unit comprised of a small DC dynamo coupled with a pneumatic motor. The generator would be propelled by the air flow resulting from each inhalation breath. Multiple tests were performed to prove the generators capability in both adequate continuous power generation and in its implementation without affecting the existing performance of the SCBA. An accumulator was added to the system as a corrective method to keep the internal mask pressure at an acceptable level.
The final design of the power generation cell includes a non-reversible air motor, coupled with the appropriate DC motor, contained within a sealed cell which acts as an accumulator, protective enclosure, and a means of leak containment for the unit. The unit is self-contained, easily added to an SCBA, and has no negative effects on the current design of the system. Adequate levels of continuous power were reached, ranging from 4 to 7 Watts depending on the rate of breathing.
Advisor:Dr. Marlin H. Mickle; Dr. Roy D. Marangoni; Dr. Michael R. Lovell
School:University of Pittsburgh
School Location:USA - Pennsylvania
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:06/09/2004