Newswise — Washington D.C. – Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) launched the Escape Respirator Challenge, a $250,000 prize competition that seeks new concepts for an escape respirator solution. This challenge invites the innovation community to submit relevant, useable, effective, and feasible concepts that protects the user against aerosolized chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) hazards and provides oxygen.
“Through this challenge, we are reaching out to the scientific community for innovative compact design solutions that will eventually help people evacuate from toxic or smoke-filled environments,” said William N. Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “This Challenge will allow S&T the opportunity to equip first responders and others with essential protective gear.”
This call for concepts is the first of a two-phase competition with a total cash prize pool of $250,000. At the conclusion of Phase I, up to three finalists will each receive $50,000 from the cash prize pool to build a functioning prototype according to their submitted proposals. Phase I finalists will then participate in a presentation event during Phase II where they will demonstrate their prototypes to compete for a cash grand prize purse of $100,000.
The overall goal of this challenge is to develop a working prototype for a compact, discreetly carried escape respirator that is capable of being donned rapidly while providing oxygen for safe egress from smoke-filled, oxygen-deficient, and CBR environments. Although commercial solutions exist, they do not have the small form factor, packaging, or weight reduction sought through this challenge.
Currently available escape hoods or respirators have several shortcomings for all-hazards protection. One shortcoming is an inability of current designs to be packaged compactly such that it can be carried discreetly, such as fitting (conveniently within the inner pocket of a suit coat). A second shortcoming for many current designs is lack of an oxygen delivery mechanism for respiratory protection when worn in an oxygen-deficient environment, such as a smoke-filled room. The third shortcoming is that currently available escape hoods are not as lightweight as desired in the required form factor. “While some current designs have incorporated solutions for one of these shortcomings, none have been found to meet all requirements,” said Dr. Donald Bansleben, S&T Program Manager.
Those interested in participating in the Escape Respirator Challenge should register no later than Thursday, April 11, 2019, at 5:00 PM Eastern and submit an application no later than Thursday, May 30, 2019, at 5:00 PM Eastern.
For more information about the Escape Respirator Challenge, visit http://www.respiratorchallenge.org/.