The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has licensed its patented rubber mouthpiece, used in self-contained, self-rescue (SCSR) breathing apparatus, to Afrox.
Afrox is sub-Saharan Africa’s market leader in gases and welding products, as well as the leading manufacturer and supplier of the body-worn SCSR breathing apparatus to the South African mining industry.
The product is a breathing apparatus that produces oxygen for workers underground during an emergency escape from an irrespirable atmosphere. It can provide life-giving oxygen for up to 40 minutes during an escape, or for up to two hours while waiting to be rescued.
The system comprises a protective, belt-worn casing. Underground workers activate the apparatus by breathing into it through a mouthpiece connected to a breathing tube. The system contains potassium super oxide (KO2) and the exhaled moisture and carbon dioxide are converted into oxygen through a chemical reaction.
The oxygen-rich air is inhaled by means of the same tube and mouthpiece. The system is also equipped with a nose clip to prevent the inhalation of harmful gases.
Many of the mouthpieces currently in use cause irritation. They also cause the stimulation of the saliva glands in the inside of the mouth, which can lead to an overproduction of saliva in some cases, which, in turn, could block the airflow.
The mouthpiece was coinvented by CSIR Consulting & Analyti- cal Services senior research engineer Wilfred Schreiber and South Africa-based Hannover Engineering owner Hartmut Abert.
The CSIR is the only accredited testing authority for these self-rescuers in South Africa. Schreiber and his team – who have more than 100 years of combined experience on working with the SCSR apparatus – have received worldwide recognition for their work.
“Although the new mouthpiece has been codeveloped by the CSIR and Hannover Engineering, ownership of the intellectual property is vested in the CSIR,” says CSIR commercialisation manager Brian Mphahlele.
“Afrox has been granted a nonexclusive licence to manufacture and distribute the mouthpieces, which will be used in their SCSRs,” he says.
The deal was concluded in July and the Afrox SCSR breathing apparatus will be wholly manufactured in South Africa, stimulating the local economy, he adds.
Hannover Engineering also manufactures mouthpieces under a nonexclusive licence from the CSIR.
The redesign of the mouthpiece follows the redesign and codevelopment of nose clips for the SCSR breathing apparatus by the CSIR and Hannover Engineering in 1997, of which Schreiber was the sole inventor. The redesigned nose clips are distributed globally, with more than half a million units sold worldwide.