Materials - Cool under pressure


Firefighters, first responders and even team mascots and Disney characters could stay comfortable with a cartridge-based integrated cooling system being developed by a team of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Navy's Navair Research Center. The system allows for continuous operation as the cartridge is easily changed — plus the suit incorporates biometric feedback of the core body temperature to maximize cooling yet prevent chilling. At the heart of the system is a cartridge made from zeolite, a porous material, and water. As the water is exposed to the zeolite under vacuum, the water evaporates and condenses on the zeolite, thus providing the driving force for the cooling system. Lead developer James Klett of ORNL's Metals & Ceramics Division noted that the system also is designed to remove sweat, which is a prime hazard as sweat buildup can produce flash steam and severe burns to firefighters. Each cartridge would provide about 30 to 45 minutes of cooling.

 -  Ron Walli,  865.576.0226,  December 01, 2004

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