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Wonder Winch

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Not quite. But a new tool from Quoin International in Ridgecrest, CA, will help you scale a five-story building in about 15 seconds without breaking a sweat. Attach a cable to the top of a wall, cliff, or utility pole, and the portable, two-kilogram winch pulls you up. The key to powering the device, says Quoin CEO Mike Jacobson, is a carefully controlled piston that generates gas at four times the pressure of a conventional turbine compressor. This novel compressor drives a high-speed turbine that produces enough force to lift 100 kilograms steadily. And unlike a conventional turbine, the engine can start and stop frequently without losing efficiency.

The winch could take the place of the pulleys and scaffolding now used in construction, repair, and search-and-rescue operations, says Cathy Jacobson, Quoin’s vice president of business development. With support from the California Department of Commerce, she says, a trial unit will be on the market by summer. Quoin developed the system under contract to the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and a model optimized for use by the military will be ready in about two years.

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