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To prolong network lifetime, we propose an energy efficient chain-based routing scheme and a distributed algorithm for constructing the routing chain based on the minimum cost tree. The chain construction algorithm calculates the transmission cost based on received signal strength. Therefore, it does not require global knowledge of node location information and provides a more accurate communication cost calculation among nodes under different practical deployment environments. The proposed power aware mechanism for leader node election in the chain ensures more uniform energy consumption among nodes. The simulation shows the new scheme provides more uniform energy consumption among nodes and better active network lifetime in different network settings as compared to previous chain-based protocols.