Extremely-Low Frequency Seismic Detector - ELF-SD

Virginia Military Institute, 2007 - $12,390

This E-Team is developing the Extremely Low Frequency Seismic Detector (ELF-SD), a device designed to allow miners to communicate with rescuers on the surface in the event of a mine collapse. The device consists of an underground, battery-powered transmitter, a portable receiver, and custom software installed on a laptop. When a disaster occurs, ELF-SD transmitters located in predetermined safe rooms within the mines will send low frequency signals through the earth. By correlating the signals from these transmitters with specific safe rooms, rescue officials will get precise data on the location and condition of the workers, making rescue easier and possibly saving lives.

A number of miner tracking and mine communication products are on the market, but all depend in some way on an electronic network, which a mine collapse would obstruct and disable. The team believes their competitive advantage lies in the fact that their system would continue to function in the event of a collapse.

Update: Technology is licensed (July, 2011). The ELF team successfully negotiated a license with Strata Products Worldwide, LLC, to commercialize a low-frequency seismic detector that will enable miners trapped up to 2,000 feet underground to be located in a matter of hours. U.S. Mining companies have a legal mandate to retrofit all of their life refuge chambers starting in 2013, and as a result, the VMI device will soon make its way into almost every mine in the U.S.

Visit the ELF team's site and listen to a NPR broadcast on the project.