Supercritical Air Mobility Pack (SCAMP)

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The SuperCritical Air Mobility Pack (SCAMP) provides breathing air and full body cooling for hazardous materials workers, firefighters, and industry. Breathing air is essential for workers under oxygen deficient conditions or where toxic gases are present. In addition to providing the basic air supply, SCAMP solves the major, recognized problem of heat stress in workers wearing impermeable suits and/or in hot environments. Working time in impermeable suits is at present normally limited by the heat stress produced in the worker that reduces productivity, and dehydrates and debilitates the worker. Use of SCAMP will allow each worker two to six times the working time in the suit each day as is obtainable with a standard Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). This will greatly reduce labor costs on extended fire operations and hazardous materials cleanup.

Using ultra-cold (cryogenic) technology, SCAMP has reduced the weight of the breathing air supply while providing cooling at the same time. The conventional compressed air one-hour SCBA system weighs 35 pounds, operates at 4500 psi, is eight inches thick, and to obtain cooling, the worker must carry a portable cooling device adding 15-25 pounds for a total of 50-60 lbs. The SCAMP is a one-hour breathing/cooling apparatus in a package weighing less than 30 pounds, runs at 750 psi, and is less than six inches thick . SCAMP is the only known development of a supercritical air breathing/cooling system. Four patents have been granted on the process. The company has working pre-production units. Dept. of Transportation certification has been received and National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approval is in process.

The air bottle (dewar) is loaded with compressed air which is chilled to -300o F using a liquid nitrogen bath. In use the cold air is expelled through a heat exchanger which warms the air to breathable temperature and cools the antifreeze solution which is pumped in a closed loop through a tube type cooling suit. This makes the system so that the harder the user works the more cooling is provided based on the air flow.

The Niwot Tech manufacturing plan is to assemble the SCAMP dewar, backpack, and loading system from components purchased from vendors, and obtain the mask, regulators and the cooling suit on OEM agreements. The initial product of the company is planned to be a one-hour rated SCAMP. This would be the standard operational unit for haz-mat workers and firefighters. There are custom markets for derivatives of the SCAMP including two hour units, underwater applications (SCUBA), race car driver cooling and fresh air, costumed character cooling for amusement parks and sports teams, and so forth

The first level of customers is within the Haz-Mat industry as the heat stress problem there is most acute and the acceptance of new technology is high. The larger firefighter market will take longer to develop. The US market for SCBAs is about 100,000 units/year, SCAMP has a potential for a 10% market share. No combined breathing/cooling system is currently on the market.

  • Awards

  • 2016 Aerospace & Defense Honorable Mention
  • 2016 Top 100 Entries


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  • Name:
    Harold Gier
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Harold L. Gier, Ph.D.
    Terence L. Gier
  • Software used for this entry:
  • Patent status: