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Space Jackets Down to Earth 87

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the crossover-tech dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Several technologies used to design the space suits protecting astronauts are now being adapted to protect workers facing extremely hot and dangerous conditions. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), these 'space-cooled' jackets are using three different technologies: special 3D-textile structure, cooling apparatus derived from astronauts' suits, and a special water-binding polymer acting as a coating. Even if these protective clothes are primarily intended for firefighters or steel workers, several applications are possible, such as in sportswear or in cars as parts of air conditioning systems. Read more for additional details and pictures."
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Space Jackets Down to Earth

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  • Sounds Boss (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RedHatLinux (453603) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @07:35PM (#14851700) Homepage
    I wonder how long until these things get adopted for use in regular clothes.
    • Re:Sounds Boss (Score:4, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @08:07PM (#14851804) Journal
      Just as soon as they can ramp up manufacturing to bring the price down.

      There are lots of cool (pun intended) technologies that aren't available because demand isn't high enough to justify investing billions in a manufacturing plant.
    • Re:Sounds Boss (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CyricZ (887944)
      How are you defining 'regular clothes'?

      Indeed, it is likely we will see clothing such as this used by firefighters quite soon, for instance. While that isn't everybody, it would start to bring such textiles into everyday usage.

      If such materials are too expensive to be used for consumer-grade clothing, we may initially see it used for items such as cooking gloves. Eventually the technology will be developed further, and likely will become economically feasible for widespread use.

      If I had to make a guess as t
    • This is the sort of technology that could be very useful for cooling computer componentry. Such fabric could be used to potentially create a "tubing" that could be used to vent the heat from a CPU directly outside a system's case, without the heat transferring to the air within the system.

      Even more importantly, such tubing could prove very useful for massive data centres or hosting complexes. The heat from computers could be collected and put to other uses. Some have theorized that it could even be used to
    • These jackets are nothing new. Michael Jackson has been wearing stuff like this for year!
  • erm.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @07:35PM (#14851701) Journal
    Maybe it's just me here but I have a slight problem with the wording of the article.

    "special 3D-textile structure"

    At what point did we start making 2D clothes? Arn't all clothes and materials 3D by being oh.. part of a realm using 3D form?

    Maybe this is just going over my head, but seems like bullshit marketing for idiots to me.
    • Re:erm.. (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Please pay more attention to the intention behind people's language. You should know perfectly well what their use of "3-D clothing" means. It shows that they are designing the structure of the fabric instead of using layers of a single fabric type. Regular T-shirts can be sufficiently described as being "a human shaped roll of 2-D wool" or whatever. While you have found a technical error in their language usage, you would paradoxically have to be a moron to not understand their intention.

      -Not bother wi
    • I don't know exactly what they mean but I guess the fabric comes in a block form that they might carve into a suit rather than a flat cloth that gets sewn.
    • Here's my guess as to what "3d Textile Structures" means

      2d Textile Structures is in regards to the process of weaving fibers together that being the most common way to create a textile.

      I think the Special 3d way is by making actual fiber like cell structures on a microscopic level and binding those together. Think tempurpedic memory foam etc.

      That's just my guess can anyone please shed a little more light on this?
    • Re:erm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by everphilski (877346) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @08:13PM (#14851821) Journal
      Traditional fabrics are woven in 2 dimensions. Consider cloth a plane, a 2 dimensional entity. It is wrapped about a 3-D body to create a piece of clothing. Cloth is very 2-dimensional.

      Instead here the fabrics are being considered in three dimensions from square one - their manufacture is in three directions to provide sweat wicking and other interesting properties.

      • by ghjm (8918)
        Weaving would be impossible in two dimensions. A loom has vertical threads all parallel to each other. The weave is created by passing horizontal threads alternately in front of and behind the vertical threads. In two dimensions, once you had the vertical threads set up, you would not be able to pass any horizontal threads through them because two objects can't occupy the same space at the same time. You need a third dimension for the weave to exist in.

        There's a big difference between "flat" and "2d."

        -Graha
  • by FF8Jake (929704) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @07:42PM (#14851732)
    Can anyone say "Sneaking Suit"? *hides in a cardboard box labeled "Nuclear Warhead Storage Building"*
  • The only experience Europe has with space travel is situated in Sweden, and they have very long hair and annoying synth lines. Why doesn't the Europe Space Agency just save some of their taxpayer's money and ask NASA how they accomplished this AMAZING FEAT back in the 1980's?

    But seriously, you'd think Europe would want to streamline their space budget since they're planning on releasing a technology to compete with the United States' GPS system, but if they keep throwing away money like this it won't happen
    • I feel that it is because we (as in, both Europe and the U.S.) have become completely and hopelessly terrified of danger.

      Could it also be because we've realized that there's actually not a hell of a lot out there to explore? In the 1960's everyone was so excited about space because we'd never made it that far off the planet, but now that it's been done... there's not a lot to do out there except keep some interesting zero-g science experiments running. (It is a vaccuum after all... by definition, somewhat
    • Note that the explorers in the past had to worry about material but not about the crew - skilled sailors were hardly rare. Now look at our astronauts: They need to be well-educated and in excellent physical as well as psychical condition and have to have the balls and discipline to go up there, spend months in a tiny space and do little but work every day. Also they require an extensive and costly training. When an unmanned rocket blows up that sucks and it's hideously expensive, but when a manned rocked bl
    • Why doesn't the Europe Space Agency just save some of their taxpayer's money and ask NASA how they accomplished this AMAZING FEAT back in the 1980's?

      Maybe NASA won't tell them? A while ago a friend told me that the tech behind the US space suits was still classified. Apparently it was classified because it was assumed that the Russians hadn't figured out how to use Peltier Effect devices in a space suit and used normal compressors to cooling. He claimed that there had been an active misinformation campai
    • I'm not scared. I'm perfectly willing to brave the dangers to go to Mars for The U.S., Science, and Humankind...(And Women... And Endorement Deals... :P)
    • Yeah, Esrange indeed is the only place AFAIK in Europe where rockets are shot. Or perhaps you heard about French Guyana? Even if it's not exactly in Europe (well, it IS in France, so you could argue that politically, it is), it's a lot closer to the equator, where it is a lot more efficient to launch rockets - you can use the earth's rotation as a help to save rocket fuel. And indeed, ESA has a base there. Surprising.
  • what a surprise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ScuttleMonkey posts another Roland Piquepaille story.
  • Would these be useful for young nerds to wear to school, as a protection against bullies.
    Imagine being a bully taking a nice swing at your gut, when his hand his stopped by space-age meteor
    shielding!

    Maybe we can get thinkgeek to carry it....
    • "Imagine being a bully taking a nice swing at your gut, when his hand his stopped by space-age meteor shielding!"

      Well, I think that sending your child to school in bully-proof, shiny reflective crinkly coating will just invite bullies to field test the stuff. Punches don't work? Lets try tables. Tables thrown at his head!! :D
    • I doubt it. Thinkgeek only carries (desirable) useless crap and caffeinated products. This, unfortunately, is neither useless nor caffeinated. Unless it has a Bawls cooler/dispenser built in... hmm... I think we're on to something.
    • In 7th grade I had a wooden belt buckle that once served that function for me. I was a Kiss fan back then, but couldn't afford a Kiss belt buckle that I wanted. So I made my own by burning the Kiss logo into a piece of wood with a soldering iron, then stained and varnished it and put the necessary hardware on the back to make it functional. I did a fairly nice job on it, actually, though that didn't make it any less dorky. But dorky or not, I was glad to be wearing it when a bully took a swing at me and end
  • I want some Space Sticks. You remember them from when you were a kid? Chocolate and peanut butter flavors. Mmmmmmm!
  • Rolands template (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    gues who's posts come up on a google phrase search on

    read more for additional details [google.com]

    Sad that Slashdot keep accepting stories from this spammer, a billion websites with billions of articles and we have to have the same names/spammers/copy&pasters/desperate individuals crap over and over again

    no wonder people block adverts here and dont subscribe, try adding value to this site and listening to your potential audience, it might give people an incentive to help this place and donate/unblock ads instead o
  • by HoneyBunchesOfGoats (619017) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @08:03PM (#14851796)
  • AW alert. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by acid_zebra (552109)
    "Roland Piquepaille writes"... that put me off, right there.

    Yes this is a troll. But Roland is an attention whore. It's worth the karma burn.
  • for cool geek applications:
    • If you can use embedded tubes for cooling, you can use them for heating, as well. The problem with cold-weather gear is the extremities (that would be feet and hands). Gloves and boots with heat pumped from the torso might work.
    • I'm interested in any protective armor that I can wear under my civilian clothes, so that when I appear in my true identity as Havoxx, Lord of the Elements, my foes will scatter like vermin before me.
    • Skin-covering beachwear. It gets so hot at th
  • by CFD339 (795926) <andrewp&thenorth,com> on Saturday March 04, 2006 @08:58PM (#14851961) Homepage Journal
    When I go into a building with uncontrolled fire I have gear currently weighing between 60 and 80 pounds. This includes a pants and jacket made with a gnomex fabric, traditional helmet, heavy leather boots with steel under the foot, in the toes, and at the shins (which is nice when you bark your shin on a ladder). I'm wearing on my back an air bottle and SCOTT pack good for 30 minutes or so (a full hour if I'm acting as a member of a Rapid Intervention Team - RIT). My face is covered with mask that allows me to use that air, and I'm wearing a carbon fiber hood that encircles the mask and covers my head and neck. Long leather gloves cover my wrists to the inside of my jacket. I am "Fully Encapsulated".

    I am fairly safe from heat and smoke up to the point of a 'flashover' -- in which case I have between 4 and 16 seconds to be somewhere else before being incinerated. I am so well protected, that many of the guys refuse to wear the hood or else won't fold down the leather flaps on the helment to cover their ears further because their warning for when the heat is too intense is when their ears start to feel too hot even through the protection.

    In addition to all this, I am carrying one or more of the following: Radio, Light, Axe (or other similar tool), Water Can, Thermal Imaging Camera, escape rope, hose line.

    Exactly how is it that this fancy jacket or undershirt is going to help me? I'm hot, but not so much that I can't make it through the 20 minutes in there. When I come out, I am handed a 20oz bottle of water and expected to finish it on the spot while having my pulse and respiration checked before even considering going back in.

    This jacket would supposedly protect me from flashover -- several thousand degrees where anything that can combust, will.

    BULLSHIT.

    Even if the jacket worked, my face mask would melt to my face while the straps on my airpack along with the protective clothing I'm wearing would literally disintegrate.

    The way to be protected from a flashover is to jump out the nearest window or to use the axe you're carrying to make a hole in the exterior wall and dive through it. That's pretty much it. When it comes to flashover -- Don't be there. If you are there, get out. I've taken classes that involved practing the fine art of going out a second floor window head first onto a ladder and flipping over, or slamming an axe into a wall braced across the corner of a window, tieing off a big of rope to it and bailing out the window -- even if its just to hang 20 or 30 feet down from the room where the flashover is about to happen until someone gets around to moving a ladder to you.

    Don't believe this crap that a little water held in that jacket is going to help.
    • You just need to add Iron Rations to the list of equipment, and you are ready to head off to the UnderDark.

      Or perhaps, to go after Red Dragons.

    • This jacket would supposedly protect me from flashover -- several thousand degrees where anything that can combust, will.

      When it comes to flashover -- Don't be there. If you are there, get out. I've taken classes that involved practing the fine art of going out a second floor window head first onto a ladder and flipping over, slamming an axe into a wall braced across the corner of a window, tieing off a big of rope to it and bailing out the window -- even if its just to hang 20 or 30 feet down from the r

    • by fuego451 (958976) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @11:02PM (#14852293) Journal
      Just wanted to say, your department really needs to get with the times and I would also recommend a department subscription to Fire Engineering magazine and a complete set of IFSTA and NFPA manuals.

      You should know that there are modern methods of combating flash over. The first is to ventilate the structure and the second is to use short burst of spray from a 60 degree fog nozzle which cools the unburned particles of combustion (aka smoke) just enough to eliminate flashing but not so much that the smoke banks downward. The latter is known as the 'Swiss' method because it was developed by Swiss engineers and firefighters.

      You should also know that leather boots are not recommended for structure firefighting by the NFPA. Your department should be wearing bunker boots, we wore Fire-Walker bunker boots made by Ranger Footwear, and Nomex pants jackets and hoods.
      I don't know of a fire department anywhere that still wears 'traditional' firefighting helmets with leather ear protectors, except yours, I guess. Most department have been wearing composite helmets with face shields and Nomex ear protectors.

      Everything I've described here is 'old' technology.

      Oh, and sticking a pick-headed ax in a wall, tying a rope to it and jumping out a window to escape a flash over? Sounds like something someone pulled out of their ass.

      By the way, over a 24 year period I was a Firefighter I, II, III, Firefighter/Paramedic, Fire Specialist, Fire Engineer and Engine Company Captain. I've been retired for 8 years.
    • You might be a firefighter, but you're not a rocket scientist, or a materials engineer. Perhaps they've actually tested this material? You might be surprised at how much energy evaporating water can take away. 2.2MJ/kg
      • ..Part of the first bit of training you get covers this. It also covers the expansion of water as it turns to steam (I believe it was 1700 times the volume).

        Point is, however:

        A) How much more do you think I can carry and still hope to pull someone else out? Water is HEAVY.

        B) What good is a cool suit if the mask I'm wearing melts off my face?

        Material science can be what it is -- but I still have to look out through the mask on my face. That presents a limit that is tough to beat. Until Scotty beams down
        • The exapnsion depends on the pressure and temperature (PV = nRT). At the higher temperatures in a fire the water might expand 20000 times.

          I think you are right, the problem in a fire is the radiant energy (hence the silver suits. Conduction (negligable) and convection (minor) can be handled by suitably foamly materials, but radiation will melt your mask in no time flat.

          I guess you might be able to partially mirror the outside of the mask to help this.
          • Convection doesn't really create the kind of turbulance you'd see in a liquid, but unless someone screws up and just starts putting too much water on the smoke and destroys the thermal layering, it can be hundreds of degrees hotter at your head high than at your feet. The rule generally goes "if you can't see your feet, crawl". In a fire where the thermal layering isn't artificially destroyed or one that is being vented once attack starts, you can sometimes see clearly at foot level and not at all at kne
            • Thanks for the interesting post. I was referring to convection as a heat transfer mechanism to protective clothing, where it is fairly minor compared to the radiation. What you are referring to is actually 'stratification', where different temperature fluid separates out.
              • My terms may not agree with the once used as scientists study heat transfer. The primary sources of heat we face come from the following:

                - Superheated air & gasses from the source of the fire. The fire itself is (except on TV) usually in one place. We spend a lot of effort getting to the fire, crawling under hot gasses and smoke. We also spend a lot of effort doing searches in parts of the building not on fire but heavy with heat and smoke. I've been considering this convection.

                - Heat radiated dire
    • [Quote]:
      Exactly how is it that this fancy jacket or undershirt is going to help me? I'm hot, but not so much that I can't make it through\nthe 20 minutes in there. When I come out, I am handed a 20oz bottle of water and expected to finish it on the spot while having my pulse and respiration checked before even considering going back in.

      This jacket would supposedly protect me from flashover -- several thousand degrees where anything that can combust, will.

      BULLSHIT.

      Even if the jacket worked, my face
  • But I thought these [aerostich.com] were starship uniforms! (Especially these radioactive ones! [aerostich.com]) I was so robbed!
  • by MikeyTheK (873329) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @12:48AM (#14852564)
    Ugh. I literally JUST got back in the door from a structure fire (sorry, no links to pictures yet, but they'll be up in the morning at www.kuhlhosefire.org). My bunker gear was sopping wet when I finished my second bottle, and we were just doing RIT/overhaul! (Uh, sorry, overhaul is what you do when the main fire is out and you find all the hot spots and burning debris and put it out so that you don't get called back three hours later once everyone is home in bed).

    There are a couple of major issues that this technology might address that would be helpful.
    1) At hazmat incidents, turnout gear is frequently inappropriate. The people doing the hot zone work are in "level 1" suits, which are fully encapsulated. However, level 1 suits are HOT, and level 1 techs are hard to come by. This might make it easier for level 1 techs to stay in the hot zone for longer periods of time or perform more evolutions.
    2) For my brother firefighter who pointed out that structural firefighting gear including nomex hoods provide inadequate protection for flashover (or getting steamed by the idiot outside who started squirting when we're inside), imagine having a level-1 type of setup for fighting fire. Your hands and head are no longer the most vulnerable because with this new technology your whole body is being cooled actively. I realize that level 1 is bulky and wouldn't be appropriate NOW, but if the technology is available someone will figure out a way...
    3) Barn fires in August just KILL crews. If you're standing outside in the sun for any length of time in turnout gear, you get completely baked. This might make it easier for us to endure fires in summer.
    4) Brush fires suck. SOG for departments that don't have nomex jumpers for fighting brush fires are to wear FF boots, turnout pants, and gloves. So you're slogging around through chest-high red brush getting cut to hell, a mile off the road, getting your ass kicked in your heavy gear, taking a shovel, axe, or if you're a rookie an Indian Can strapped to your back. Again, it doesn't take long to get overheated. Maybe not any longer.

    I hope that the technology performs. I'm whipped.
  • ..gee, hope it's not a real cooling vest for pilots of a real version of this: http://www.mechdropzone.com/images/mechs/atlas.gi f [mechdropzone.com]

    Then I thought nah, I'd never believe I wouldn't be happy to see one of those for real. :D

    War with these things *would not* be something to be happy about being anywhere near I'd imagine, though.

    (Yes, I know about the one a guy was building in Alaska or something, not quite the same as a fusion-powered fully-functional example.)

    Strat
  • Nasa Budgets Cancels Missions [slashdot.org]

    Yea, the gov't keeps axeing NASA's budget (not that gov't money is every actually spent in a wise or thrifty manner...you know $100 hammers). So while we appreciate things like this, and we take it for granted - make no doubt NASA has made many inventions that were adopted into our everyday lives:
    Asbestos suits for firefighters
    Water Filtration systems ("As used by astronauts")
    Microwave technology (the cooking kind)
    And I am sure some /.'er will post about 50 other thing
  • As far as I know space-age technology came to scuba diving with rebreathers a long time ago already.

    For the unfamiliar: these are the devices, that recycle your air with a "CO2 scrubber" substance, and work with very little additional gas consumption. (film where you can see some of these : The Cave)

    if interested, also search for "Rebreathers" or a good guess is "dolphin rebreathers"

    cheers

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