Protecting Troops from Heat Stroke. (Armed Forces)

Article excerpt

With members of the U.S. armed forces increasingly faced with the prospect of serving or fighting in nations that may have sweltering summer temperatures, a push is under way to create a personalized "cooling system" that could help prevent heat stroke. Toward that goal, Oregon State University, Corvallis, and the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Richland, Wash., researchers are attempting to develop an effective, lightweight, individual cooling unit using the latest concepts in microtechnology. When perfected, the new system should be of significant value to members of the armed forces, especially soldiers who might be exposed to chemical or biological weapons and must wear airtight protective clothing. In addition, it could assist other emergency personnel who have to work in extremely hot or confining situations--firefighters, people wearing fully protective outfits to respond to hazardous material spills, police wearing bulky bulletproof vests, and others.

"In a very hot climate, a soldier in full battle dress can get heat stroke in 10-20 minutes, and the effectiveness of fighting units can be dramatically reduced" explains Kevin Drost, a professor of mechanical engineering at Oregon State University. …