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Headlines Published on 18 October 2005

Title A Pass’port to mobility

Increasing security at airports, while absolutely necessary and supported by all for safety reasons, does cause headaches for airport security staff and airlines. Metal wheelchairs, used to transport the aged and infirmed to and from their flights, are well known for tripping alarms and causing delays at the gate. The CEA in France has come up with a solution.

Increasing air traffic coupled with increased security means delays at check-in. A new metal-free wheelchair could help. © LCD Concept
Increasing air traffic coupled with increased security means delays at check-in. A new metal-free wheelchair could help.
© LCD Concept
Increasing air traffic coupled with efforts to increase security in the wake of highly publicised terror attacks means delays at check-in need to be avoided. Conventional wheelchairs with metal components tend to set off security alarms and require staff to investigate the passengers more thoroughly. A new French invention could help reduce these delays.

CEA researchers have developed an innovative wheelchair that can freely move around airports and other high-security areas without tripping metal detectors all over the place. This is because the wheelchair has no metal components – it is made entirely of plastic polymers.

This innovation was possible because of polymer-research conducted at the Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique (CEA), a specialist facility for materials research, design and characterisation, working together with the regional Val de Loire Technology Platform ‘Plasticompo’.

The CEA researchers developed the new wheelchair for LCD Concept, a French company specialised in ‘better living’ solutions for people with reduced mobility, at the request of airports and airlines. Called Pass’port, the new wheelchair can go through a metal detector without setting off the alarm and potentially holding up passengers. According to its designers, attention to ergonomic design means it is comfortable for users, and it uses 100% recyclable materials.

And an ‘underwater’ version
The technology in Pass’port rests on a rotomoulding manufacturing process developed at the CEA’s Le Ripault Centre. Rotomoulding of polymer plastics involves spinning the mould around two axes at high temperatures. It is ideal for product development, as well as short production runs for plastic components using large moulds because of its low tooling costs and economics.

Airports are not the only potential user of the Pass’port wheelchair. Its resistance to radiation, humidity, water, iodine and chlorine make it ideal for helping the infirmed in and out of swimming pools, thalasso-therapy centres and even the sea. Railways, embassies and many other tight-security installations are other possible users.

LCD Concept presented the Pass’port wheelchair to major manufacturers, airport management and the press at Tours Airport on 29 September 2005 and the company is now looking to take the Pass’port wheelchair onto international markets.

The EU has also invested significant sums into the development of new, multifunctional materials, production processes and devices through its third research priority theme in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

Source:  Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique (CEA)


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