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Materials Considerations for Improved Flash/Flame Protection

[+] Author Affiliations
Jeremy D. Paquin, Joseph Hitt, A. Özer Arnas

United States Military Academy, West Point, NY

Francisco J. Martinez

Natick Soldier Research and Development Center, Natick, MA

Paper No. IMECE2009-11836, pp. 195-205; 11 pages
  • ASME 2009 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 2: Biomedical and Biotechnology Engineering
  • Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA, November 13–19, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4375-8 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3863-1


To investigate the capabilities of protective clothing materials to withstand the initial radiant energy effects and secondary flame impingement from a blast and devise suggestions for new materials, better configuration designs, and manufacturability of those designs must be considered. This paper discusses results that will directly benefit soldiers and others with risk to exposure of flash/flames due to explosions. Dismounted soldiers need a material that has improved flash/flame protective qualities to better protect them in combat situations that may result in burn injuries from fires that originate from a blast. This paper investigates why the burns occurred, how the materials used in the current configuration of clothing could be improved upon, and what new materials choices can be made in other configurations to better protect dismounted soldiers. The causes of failure have been evaluated, and by way of reverse and forward engineering, alternative choice of materials and improved designs has been considered. As a result, a prototype can/will be built based on the design characteristics, tested, and potentially fielded for use by soldiers. The paper provides sufficient background information on the anatomy of explosions, physiology of burn injuries, and blast type and burn relationships. Current testing methods for testing burn-protection materials are discussed including both bench scales and full scale tests and the pros and cons of each. The engineering requirements for current fire resistant clothing are broken down. Then, a description of the assumptions is listed, and the engineering design process is applied to the problem to determine which characteristics are most important in this type of fire-resistant material. This process includes a survey and several design tools to narrow the design criteria to the most important engineering characteristics required for a successful application of the design. Another aspect is introduced by including an analysis of the heat transfer characteristics of fire-resistant materials to help narrow the criteria and better understand the problem.

Topics: Flames



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