“Our concept is to use 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,” said Dr Saud Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani, professor at the College of Engineering at Qatar University.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has unveiled the helmets, which are said to have the potential to reduce the skin temperature of construction workers by up to 10°C. This will allow for safer and more comfortable working conditions in the summer months, said researchers working on the new system at Qatar University.
The solar-powered helmet has been tested, patented worldwide and put through the production stage by a group of Doha-based scientists in cooperation with the SC and Aspire Zone Foundation. More units have now been ordered with the objective to incorporate them for the coming summer period across SC projects.
“The material we use inside the helmet is phase changing material (PCM ) contained in a pouch, and this increases the total load of the helmet only by 300 grams,” said Abdul-Ghani. “This provides cooling in hot conditions for up to four hours straight. People when working in the sun will get cool air coming down at the front of their faces. When they go for a break, they throw it into a refrigerator and pick up a cold pack and put it into their helmets. We did research on the best areas to lower body temperature, and it was the head and face. The additional cost is just twenty dollars in comparison to a normal passive helmet, but the results are felt immediately in terms of less lost time on site due to heat-related complaints.”
“We were approached by the SC and Aspire with a challenge, and our objective was to reduce heat stress and heat strokes for workers in Qatar and the region during the summer months,” said Abdul-Ghani. “This type of body-based cooling technology has been used before in US sports for training purposes in hot states, but we have now developed this innovative solution for the construction sector and we believe it has the potential to revolutionise the construction industry in hotter areas of the world.”
The researcher who previously taught at Nottingham and Manchester universities, has been working on the project for two years alongside a group of students from Qatar, Jordan, Greece and Egypt. He is cooperating with the SC and Aspire on the project in order to implement it on construction sites for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.
“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,” he said. “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.”
An additional weight of 300g and a small solar panel attached to the helmet ensures that the new product is both safe and effective.
“While this technology is developed and designed in Qatar and will be first used on our sites, we believe it can have a legacy which extends to many other parts of the world which have hot summer climates,” said Hilal Jeham Al Kuwari, chairman of SC’s Technical Delivery Office.
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. Further considerations in the development process were the weight and price of the cooled helmet, with as little weight and cost as possible being added in order to keep the innovative technology accessible.