Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Air Conditioned Helmets!!

Well, half of the useful innovations have come from research in defense and sports. The Global Positioning System, quantum computing and nanofabrics are examples. It's well known, I guess that the defense research is spearheaded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, USA. And, in sports, innovation is most required and possible in FormulaOne.

The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center of the US Army came up with the idea of an air conditioned fan for soldiers to 'beat the heat' in battles. There is a battery at the back of the helmet. A fan pulls in the air and filters are arranged so that good air sweeps across the face evenly, inside the helmet. While exhaling, it gets interesting.The air valve closes, and the helmet gets over pressurised as   This system was developed to use less power. Even the weight of the helmet could be reduced. Helmets are also made of Kevlar, the same one used to make bullet proof vests.
All helmets are not as safe as the F1 helmets!! :( :(

Point is, once developed, this technology could be used in Formula One too. The F1 drivers are no different from astronauts except that they only fly but don't float!! Safety first! From the shoe to the suit to the helmet, care is taken in design. The F1 helmets need to be extremely light(Lewis Hamilton would not want more head weight!) and strong at the same time. They are made of Kevlar and a layer of carbon fiber and most importantly, fire resistant, Aramide(for fire resistance, drivers first cover themselves from head to toe; from Balaclava to Socks with Nomex, a low weight, fire proof material). The visor is made of polycarbonate strips which can be removed one by one if necessary. Of course, there is an air filter too, to not allow huge particles enter the helmet onto the face!

In F1, especially, with new norms and rules coming up almost every year, the teams have to design fast cars and win under these regulations. For this, the weight and height of the driver matters so much that if not driving, the driver would be at the gym only! Also, the heat inside the car matters too, so much that drivers get heat acclimatisation  training to adjust to those conditions and not "get cooked" inside the car! So, how about an air conditioned helmet for Formula One.

I actually got this idea two years back but could not continue due to economic issues :p :p. Well, I am not saying that the DARPA consulted me for the cool helmets!! Just, I want to make one. Using some mild coolants, not like dry ice or something. No, I do not want to freeze the insides of the helmet. But a coolant, which, when the air is sucked in, makes it just cooler than the surrounding temperatures, I hope!!