These solar-powered helmets have been rigorously tested, patented worldwide and put through the production stage by the scientists in cooperation with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and Aspire Zone Foundation (Aspire).
More units have now been ordered with the objective to incorporate them for the summer period across SC projects.
Body-based cooling technology has been used in the US previously, especially for sport training purposes in hot states. “We have now developed this innovative solution for the construction sector and we believe it has the potential to revolutionise the industry in hotter areas of the world,” said Dr Saud Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani, Professor at the College of Engineering at Qatar University.
The researcher who has previously taught at British universities in Nottingham and Manchester has been working on the project for two years alongside a group of students from Qatar, Jordan, Greece and Egypt, and is cooperating closely with the SC and Aspire on the project in order to implement it on construction sites for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.
Since 2007, labourers have been banned from working outside in Qatar for several hours during the day at the height of the summer, owing to temperatures.
There are currently more than 5,000 construction workers helping to build World Cup stadiums in Qatar. That number is set to increase to 36,000 within the next two years.
The concept uses a solar-powered fan to blow air over a cooled material at the top of the helmet, which will then come down over the front of the person’s face and provide a cooler micro-climate for the worker.
“We are confident that this technology will create more comfortable and safer working conditions, and there is just a minimal increase in weight to the helmet. By reducing the temperature of the head and face, the rest of the body will naturally follow and ensure that workers have a constant flow of cooler air to refresh them throughout their day,” said Dr Saud.
Advanced testing has already taken place on the cooled helmet and the developers have pointed to a number of regions where the technology could also be applied once it goes into mass production.
“This type of innovative cooling technology will be ideal for the Middle East, Asia, Australia, Mexico and the US – any country with hot climates where this technology can help reduce heatstroke and regulate body temperatures for construction workers significantly. Once we have finished development we can roll this out to the region and to other hot areas as part of the legacy of this tournament,” added Dr Saud.
During the testing and development phases, a number of detailed studies were undertaken by Qatar University, including testing the system in climatic chambers, analysing the amount of sweat per hour and adding the effect of sun, air, wind and measurement of the amount of heat that passed through the head. Other factors covered during the development process included deciding a feasible weight and cost in order to keep the innovative technology accessible.
A marginal additional of 300 grams is added to the weight due to a small solar panel (Phase Changing Material (PCM) contained in a pouch) attached to the helmet, ensuring that the new product is both safe and effective, and an additional cost of just $20 in comparison to a normal passive helmet.
This material provides cooling in hot conditions for up to 4 straight hours. While outside working in the sun, people will get cool air coming down at the front of their faces and while indoors they can they can throw it into a refrigerator and pick up a cold pack and put it into their helmets just before stepping out into the sun again.