Brock researcher, mining tech company developing ‘smart’ personal cooling system

Brock University photo – Jannatec Technologies Senior Research Scientist Steffon Luoma and Brock University Professor of Kinesiology Stephen Cheung at a training mine in Sudbury.

Brock University press release – It’s like something out of a Star Trek episode: a suit that cools down when the person who wears it gets hot.

But unlike a prop in the sci-fi show, research for this suit is happening now, and the place it will be worn is on Earth — or more specifically, far under the Earth’s surface.

Brock University Professor of Kinesiology Stephen Cheung has partnered with mining tech company Jannatec Technologies to create a vest that will protect miners from heat illnesses.

“The idea is to develop a smart, personal cooling system miners can wear that will get feedback on their internal physiology,” explains Cheung, who is Canada Research Chair in Environmental Ergonomics.

The vest is aimed at ‘ultra-deep miners,’ who mine copper, nickel, tin and other minerals as far as three kilometres below the Earth’s surface, where temperatures can soar up to 60 degrees Celsius.

Cheung explains that non-invasive sensors will be built into the vest that will record and monitor a variety of bodily systems such as heartrate and skin temperature. Sensors will also monitor air temperature and humidity levels.

Signals from the sensors will activate a battery that will provide power needed to cool the body to certain levels through electronic modules, depending on the readings.

“These innovations are going to increase safety and productivity,” says Steffon Luoma, senior research scientist with the Sudbury-based, mining technology company Jannatec Technologies.

“One of the top expenses in a mine operation is ventilation, and part of ventilation is cooling,” he says. “Cooling the workers directly is more efficient than cooling an area and will lead to a decrease in costs.”

The Ontario Centres of Excellent is funding the development of the technology and how it will get integrated into the clothing.



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