85-Year Old Invents Device That Automatically Turns Off Circuit Breaker in Response to Serious Earthquake

Inventor Tadao Endo

85-Year Old Invents Device That Automatically Turns Off Circuit Breaker in Response to Serious Earthquake
Yomiuri Shimbun: 地震が起きるとブレーカー遮断…85歳が発明
February 20, 2012

85-year old retiree Tadao Endo of Sengen-chō, Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture has received a patent for a device he recently invented which automatically shuts off a circuit breaker after an earthquake: the tremor makes a lead ball roll downward and fall, tugging a string downward and flipping the switch.

Mr. Endō said, “After serious quakes, people usually don’t have the time to turn off their circuit breakers. If there were such an emergency, this device would decrease the chances of an electrical appliance causing a fire.”

The device has a 20 cm long, slender chain with a 55g leaden ball attached to one end. The other end is affixed to the circuit breaker switch. The leaden ball usually rests atop a normal iron plate, but if a serious earthquake occurred, the ball would roll and fall; it weight would yank the chain and switch off the breaker.

Endō’s design was registered with the Patent Office on January 6.

The most difficult part of Endō’s project was determining how heavy of a leaden ball to use. “If it were too light, it would react even after a light earthquake, but if it were too heavy, it would be useless,” he said. After trial and error, he settled on 55 grams (1.94 ounces) as the perfect weight.

Endō once worked for the national railway, chiefly as a substation chief of safety on the Tokyo-to-Kobe Tōkaidō Line. “At work, as I watched the express trains and night trains come and go day and night, I often thought about what to do if there were a giant earthquake.” He ponders the same question even now. In his home, all the appliances are well-secured, and all the glass is covered with film so it won’t break in the event of an earthquake.

“I’ve heard that after a large earthquake, electricity often goes out for a spell and then comes back, and when that happens, electric heaters and irons that were turned on at the time cause fires. If your circuit breaker automatically turned off, you could feel secure about your home even after you evacuated it.”

Original/原稿:
地震が起きるとブレーカー遮断…85歳が発明

意匠登録された地震感知器について説明する遠藤さん 静岡県富士宮市浅間町の無職遠藤忠夫さん(85)が、地震を感知すると鉛玉が転がり落ち、電気のブレーカーを落とすという装置を発明し、特許庁から意匠登録の認定を受けた。

 遠藤さんは「大きな揺れが来たらブレーカーを落とす余裕がない。万一の時、電気による火災を少しでも減らせれば」と話している。

 装置は、長さ約20センチの細い鎖の先に55グラムの鉛玉を取り付け、鎖のもう片方の端をブレーカーのスイッチに固定したもの。鉛玉は普段、鉄の板の上にあるが、大きな地震が起きると鉛玉が板から落下し、その重みでブレーカーが落ちる仕組みだ。

 今年1月6日に、特許庁から意匠登録が認められた。

 遠藤さんが苦労したのは、鉛玉の重さをどのくらいにするかだったという。「軽すぎると、弱い地震でも反応してその都度ブレーカーが落ちてしまうし、重すぎては役に立たない」。試行錯誤の末、55グラムがちょうどいいと分かった。

 遠藤さんは旧国鉄に勤め、主に東海道線の変電所などの保守を担当していたという。「現役の頃は昼夜関係なく特急列車や夜行列車が行き交っており、大きな地震があったらどうしようと、常に考えていた」。その思いは今も変わらず、自宅の家具はすべて固定し、ガラスには地震で割れないようにフィルムが貼ってある。

 「大地震でいったん停電し、復旧した後、スイッチの入った電気ヒーターやアイロンなどから出火することが多いと聞いた。瞬時にブレーカーを落とせれば、避難した後も安心できる」と話している。

(2012年2月20日08時12分 読売新聞)

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