EMSD’s outstanding achievements at International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva
The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) has all along been proactive in applying innovative technologies to enhance service quality, and ensuring that electrical, mechanical and energy technologies are harnessed in a safe, reliable, economical and environmentally friendly manner to continuously enhance people’s quality of life. EMSD has attained outstanding achievements at this year’s International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva. Four Gold Medals and four Silver Medals have been awarded to the department.
Major annual event for inventors
The International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva is one of the major annual events for inventors across the world. Due to the pandemic, the international jury of specialists evaluated around 600 inventions and projects from over 20 countries and regions via video conferencing for the first time. This year, the performance of the Hong Kong delegation was excellent. The EMSD teams received international recognition for quite a number of their research and development deliverables.
Artificial Intelligent (AI) Nylon Optical Fibre Sensing Escalator Combs
One of the award-winning inventions is the AI Nylon Optical Fibre Sensing Escalator Combs. This Gold Medal-winning system is developed by the EMSD in collaboration with the industry, a start-up company and a university. Senior Engineer/General Legislation of the EMSD, Mr Au Tze-wai, William, says that it is of particular importance to ensure the safe operation of escalators because we use them almost every day. This newly developed system uses optical fibre sensing technology and AI big data analysis to monitor escalator operations in real time. Besides, 3D scanning and printing technology are used to enhance the design of escalator combs.
Sending out alarm signals when obstacles are detected
Introducing the features of the system, he points out that it can detect obstacles on an escalator by monitoring the vibrations of the escalator combs with the use of optical fibre sensing technology. If an escalator is stuck by obstacles, the system will send out alarm signals and alert management staff via a mobile phone application, so that the obstacles can be removed as soon as possible to reduce the occurrence of “accordion-style” escalator crash incidents. The system will also calculate pedestrian flow along an escalator to enable repair and maintenance workers to know about the utilisation rate of the escalator. Hence, workers can find out which escalator parts will have a higher level of wear and tear and carry out timely preventive maintenance to reduce the risks of accidents.
Combining 3D printing technology
In addition, using nylon material together with the latest Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology, the award-winning team has enhanced the design of the traditional escalator combs. Dr NG Chun, Curtis of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University tells us that combs made of nylon, which is a type of plastic, have greater flexibility. In the case of traditional combs made of aluminium alloy, although they are harder, their aluminium alloy teeth are comparatively easier to break and pop out when stuck with hard objects. Also, by extending the top coverage by five millimetres to reduce the gap between the combs and the steps, the team’s design is more effective in preventing hard objects from getting stuck in an escalator.
Favourable test results
Currently, the system is being tested on-site on eight escalators at outdoor covered walkways, government complexes and large shopping malls, and the results are favourable. Following EMSD’s effort in promoting the system, there are plans for the Airport Authority Hong Kong, the Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited and various government premises to adopt it. The Vocational Training Council has also expressed interest in applying the invention to teaching purposes.
Air Filter 2.0
Another award-winning invention is Air Filter 2.0, an energy-saving air filter technology developed by the EMSD for centralised air-conditioning systems. It was awarded a Silver Medal at the International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva.
Incorporating a retractable device
Project Officer (Innovation) of the EMSD, Mr YIP Kim-ming explains that Air Filter 2.0 has combined two advanced technologies, the first being a retractable mechanism that can operate on a need basis. Traditional air filters are fixed installations and air must be filtered before flowing out. Contrarily, Air Filter 2.0 incorporates a retractable device. Upon detection of good indoor air quality, the air filter will automatically retract, allowing air to pass freely without filtration. With lower resistance to the airflow, the fan can operate with reduced power and achieve energy saving; just like it is easier for us to breathe with the face mask off.
Introducing acoustic-aided technology
The second advanced technology adopted by Air Filter 2.0 is an acoustic-aided technology that can enhance filtration efficiency. Acoustic waves are injected into filtering materials, so that suspended particles in the airflow will vibrate more intensively while passing through the filter, hence more likely to be blocked by the filtering materials. As a result, filtration efficiency is improved.
Reducing 20-30% of electricity consumption
Mr Yip Kim-ming points out that Air Filter 2.0 has been tested with good results. Compared with traditional air filters, Air Filter 2.0 consumes 20% to 30% less electricity, attaining the goal of saving energy and reducing emissions.
As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”. Using innovative technologies to send alarm signals and carry out preventive repair and maintenance work has become a new direction for the electrical and mechanical industry. Moreover, energy saving has always been an important issue and is critical for Hong Kong to continuously reduce carbon emissions.
(The video is in Cantonese)
(The video is provided by Development Bureau)