Drink-Drive Detector Radios Police
A tiny fuel cell that detects the alcoholic breath of a drunk driver and calls the police has been developed by a team of engineers at Texas Christian University.
Ed Kolesar, leader of the project, explains that the detector is based on a fuel cell run on ethyl alcohol. A pump draws air in from the passenger cabin, a platinum catalyst converts any alcohol to acetic acid, which then produces a current proportional to the concentration of alcohol in the air.
A chip analyses the data, and if it is too high, turns on a wireless transmitter that calls the police. This signal can be received up to a mile away, so a police cruiser could monitor traffic as it travelled.
The entire detector is small enough to be mounted on the steering wheel or the sun visor above the driver. It needs only to be within 20 ins. of the driver’s mouth to detect alcohol on his breath. This proximity also helps avoid false alarms when the car contains drunken passengers.
Abstracted from the www.newscientist.com.