The Latest In Survival

Former Navy Divers Develop Product To Help Miners

Published January 09, 2016
Mine Survival, Inc. Former Navy Divers Develop Product To Help Miners
Dave Cowgill, scientific director for Mine Survival, Inc., runs a temperature study on a closed circuit escape respirator in Panama City Beach. - Photo by Andrew Wardlow. Courtesy of Panama City News Herald

When a mine collapses or explodes, miners inside need a supply of fresh air to help them escape. Article about the Mine Survivor from MSI.

Article from the Herald News
By Katie Landeck - Dec. 14, 2015

PANAMA CITY BEACH — When a mine collapses or explodes, miners inside need a supply of fresh air to help them escape.

To breathe, miners often use a device called a self-escape respirator, a vest that comes with its own air supply. The problem, said local inventor and former Navy diver Rob Moran, is that the current vests are not very good.

“The devices have run so hot that when you breathe from them, you burn your mouth, so you have a choice of burning your mouth, esophagus and lungs and surviving or taking your chances,” Moran said. “You can’t win. We wanted to give people a device that would work.”

Moran and his partner, Dave Cowgill, have redesigned the rebreather, creating a model they say is lighter, cooler and advances the technology. The vest has been patented, a prototype created, and is currently in the certification process. If it passes certification, a seller is ready to bring the product to market.

“They will have no choice but to buy it, as it will be the only certified vest” of its kind, Moran said. “The market is already there.”

The Center for Disease Control division of Mine Safety and Health Research has been looking for someone to develop a better self-escape respirator. In 2012, they agency posted a list on its website about what features they thought the device should ultimately have.

The device Cowgill and Moran created has every must-have from this list. However, when they originally started the project, they weren’t thinking about miners.

They were thinking about soldiers.

Cowgill, who also was a Navy diver, was listening to feedback from soldiers returning from the Middle East about how it was difficult to breathe from a gas mask. Cowgill then had an idea to use the closed-circuit technology design utilized in scuba technology to create a better tool for soldiers.

As he tinkered with his designs, he bounced ideas off Moran.

“We worked together, and he would come to me with questions like, ‘What should I do with this?’ and I would give him an answer and it would work. This just kept happening,” Moran said. “On the third time, I said, ‘Let’s become partners. We can build this.’ ”

Along the way, a researcher at the Mine Safety and Health division became aware of their designs and asked if they would be interested in developing the technology for miners. Realizing the need and opportunity, they agreed.

The company incorporated in November 2014 and has since set to develop both the closed-circuit escape vest and their company, which is now five people based out of an office on Panama City Beach.

Read More »  News Herald