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U.S. Army Testing Personal Cooling Suits 398

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the things-that-really-are-cool dept.
DJ BenBen writes to tell us that they Army is currently testing some 500 liquid cooled vests with Humvee crews in Iraq. From the article: "The Humvees with add-on armor were fitted with air conditioners after TARDEC engineers in Warren, Mich., were given the requirement to figure out how Soldiers in armored vehicles could be kept cool under the desert sun. Some of the same engineers had designed the add-on armor kits for the M-998 and M-1025 Humvees in theater. But with the extra armor and doors closed, temperatures inside the vehicles could reportedly reach more than 130 degrees. 'It's like putting somebody in a toaster oven on low heat,' said Charlie Bussee, an engineer at TARDEC."
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U.S. Army Testing Personal Cooling Suits

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  • by rubberbando (784342) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:18PM (#14304827)
    Is it such a good idea to 'Slashdot' a MILITARY website?

    Lets hope they don't hit back....
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:20PM (#14304851)
      At least our military friends now will not get hot under the collar...
    • by Yartrebo (690383)
      The army wants all the publicity they can get. It's a public server and its job is to disseminate propaganda that helps them meet their recruitment targets.
    • by cliveholloway (132299) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:28PM (#14304916) Homepage Journal
      That's OK, it's only "Friendly fire" :)
    • I hope the guys in the server room are wearing suits!
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:54PM (#14305129)
      > Is it such a good idea to 'Slashdot' a MILITARY website?
      >
      > Lets hope they don't hit back....

      Especially if their sysadmin's wearing one of these watercooling vests. If you thought the Bastard Operator From Hell was bad-ass, you should see him when he's overclocked.

    • Hmm. A DoS from the DoD.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:19PM (#14304835) Homepage Journal
    And exactly why would you ask scientists and engineers in MICHIGAN to test the effect of a DESERT environment? Utah I could understand. Or Nevada. Or Arizona. Or New Mexico. But Michigan?
    • Besides, it's a waste of money. Just put a forty gallon beer keg in the back of the Humvee, and believe me the desert heat won't be a problem at all.
    • At a guess, it's because Michigan is home to most of the US automotive industry and therefore where most of the expertise in mobile air conditioning is likely to be located.

      Believe it or not, sometimes the hubs of research of development are on the supply end rather than the consumer end.

      • Re:Holy Pork Fatman! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        There's not much expertise required in aftermarket automotive air conditioning systems. They're really quite simple systems. You have a grand total of about six or seven significant devices: evaporator, condenser, compressor, dryer, metering/restriction device, pressure and/or temperature sensor, and a clutch on the compressor. You do a little bit of math to find out how big each of these things needs to be and bingo, you've got an AC system. These systems are currently made all over the country and you can
    • Re:Holy Pork Fatman! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Scutter (18425) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:31PM (#14304952) Journal
      And exactly why would you ask scientists and engineers in MICHIGAN to test the effect of a DESERT environment?

      Err...because that's where the automotive engineers are? You do know that the Big Three are based in Detroit, right? And don't forget, Warren used to be home of the 900,000 sq. ft. Warren Tank Plant. General Dynamics Land Systems Division, as well as many other military contractors, are still based there, too.

      Side note: We used to have to use bicycles to get around that place. It was HUGE!
      • Err...because that's where the automotive engineers are?

        OK, this is true but besides the where its done how 'bout the why its done? I'm sure these liquid cooled vestes are cool and all (no pun intended), but my Hummer has a cooling system which was very cheap and has been tested by millions of others ahead of me and doesn't require me to wear any extra clothing. Its called air conditioning and it works pretty well. I wonder how many millions tax payers are putting up for this, while the solders are dig
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:20PM (#14304846)
    That could be a scare for some troops.
  • Hot and cold? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Poromenos1 (830658) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:22PM (#14304861) Homepage
    I'm not a doctor, but is it good for soldiers' health to be hot and cold simultaneously? I have heard that having air conditioning and heating on is not healthy, so what about this?
    • Re:Hot and cold? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeremi (14640) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:24PM (#14304877) Homepage
      I'm not a doctor, but is it good for soldiers' health to be hot and cold simultaneously?


      Possibly, but it's got to be better than dying of heatstroke.


      Personally, I'd say being in Iraq is bad for American soldiers' health... but that's just me.

    • That doesn't make any sense. Also, it's not what's going on here. But, regardless, when you turn on defrost in your vehicle, if you have AC, it turns on. (Some vehicles, like the Mazda Miata, don't turn it on unless the AC button is depressed, but they have a weird control scheme in which AC is not a position, but an option.) The AC is used as a condenser-dryer in order to remove moisture from the defrost air, so the air on the inside of the windshield evaporates quicker.
    • lesser evil (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrYak (748999)
      I am a doctor and because I happen to live in one of the few last european retard countries that still has moronic stuff like obligatory military service, I had to work in a small military hospital.
      It was summer, it was *very* hot (unussual for this country).

      A few of the young soldiers collapsed because of Hyperthermia [wikipedia.org] during exercices in tanks.
      Not only was the weather hot, but it was even hotter inside the tank (witch is under direct sun, doesn't radiate a lot and doesn't have large openings, to lower risk
  • I have a lot of friends in Iraq right now and they tell me that the Iraqi's are 100% convienced that the US already has air conditioned boxers, briefs, panties and bras... how else can they move around in that heat!
    • by Rxke (644923)
      This is modded funny, but he's not kidding, I remember seeing footage (I think BBC) of a sweaty soldier stepping up to locals (in a friendly town) so they could reach under his flak-jacket and feel for themselves that, no, it is *not* artificially cooled, the guy is *really* wearing all this stuff and feels very hot... The translation (in subtitles) of the locals talking to eachother was things like "oh, that is really hot, how do they manage?... ...that must be hard... " and stuff like that... The soldier
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:26PM (#14304897) Homepage Journal
    I was a little nipper when the Space Race was in full swing.

    In the early '70s, Popular Science ran an article by a stuff writer who tried out one of the water-cooled undergarments worn by astronauts during "EVA."

    The garment was resembled full-length underwear, laced with yards and yards of plastic tubing. The cooling source was a bag of ice worn on the hip. Kind of like a fanny pack.

    The writer put on the suit, dressed normally, and went for a walk around Manhattan on a stinking hot day. One of the few details I remember: A picture of him loading up the ice bag at a bar.
  • by Kuxman (876286)
    "A rapid-release system allows Soldiers to quickly disconnect the hoses so they can jump out of the vehicle and keep the vests on."

    Let's just hope that the water circulating through the vest is sucked out by the release system, or else that once-was-cold water is going to turn very hot and very heavy, RSN.
  • I definately read this on fark back in august. Old news.

    Not to mention, Helicopter pilots have had this system for a while. Plus it's not that cool; it's not portable.

    • Re:Deja Vu (Score:3, Interesting)

      by twiddlingbits (707452)
      What's old is new again! NASA had it in the 60's. NASCAR drivers had it in the 70's and 80's. It was called the Cool Suit. It ran water in hoses via a small pump thru a cooler full of ice and then thru a vest like garment worn by the driver. Later on they added a fan which blew cool air into the helmet to keep the head cool. Worked great but the extra weight of the ice/water was not very nice. And some of the earlier systems did need ice added if it was really really hot. Temps inside a race car can run 13
  • Scorpius (Score:4, Funny)

    by numbski (515011) * <numbski@hksilv e r .net> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:31PM (#14304954) Homepage Journal
    By chance is it made of black snakeskin, cover your head, and keep you cool despite looking really, well hot?
  • Toasty (Score:2, Funny)

    by Phae (920315)
    It's like putting somebody in a toaster oven on low heat

    Boy, but you should see them complain when it's on high!
    • Re:Toasty (Score:3, Funny)

      by iggymanz (596061)
      we did that test, but after 15 minutes on HIGH none of them were complaining. They just smelled like baked ham.
  • Here's a problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pummer (637413) <spam.pumm@org> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:38PM (#14304996) Homepage Journal
    Sure, these vests might work great while in-vehicle. But they're worn under-armor; what happens when a soldier has to exit the vehicle quickly? Sure, the hoses are quick-release, but now he's got yet another layer of clothing on in the desert heat, a layer that probably doesn't help his maneuverability. Perhaps there's a better solution.
    • Stillsuits?
    • by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:14PM (#14305269) Journal
      Sure, the hoses are quick-release, but now he's got yet another layer of clothing on in the desert heat, a layer that probably doesn't help his maneuverability. Perhaps there's a better solution.

      Ya know, I've been reading Popular Mechanics and I think in the next hundred years we'll see cooling systems mounted directly inside of the vehicles. These systems will cool the air and then blow it onto the vehicle's occupants. Now I don't suggest these are ready for common use yet, but one day it could be very useful for for are troops in such environments.
    • Re:Here's a problem (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 955301 (209856)
      What if the coolant was the water in their camel backs? Then plugging into the humvee fills your camelback and circulates coolness into it. Little extra weight, another task off their list (refills of the water supply) and a slight break from the heat.
  • Whoop de doo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:45PM (#14305057) Homepage Journal
    This system has been used even in amateur racing for literally decades. It's called a "coolsuit" and they are neither particularly novel nor expensive. However, I would assume that this system costs a hojillion-billion dollars, because it was "developed" for the military.

    Civilian racing versions usually feature a small pump inside of a water reservoir in an ice cooler. The pump runs off the car's 12VDC system. The rest of the cooler is filled with ice, to keep the water cold.

    You can get one right here [eagleracingonline.com] for $320 (for a limited time.) Perhaps the military should just buy them from those guys, if they can come up with 40,000 of them or so :)

    • I would assume that this system costs a hojillion-billion dollars, because it was "developed" for the military. Civilian racing versions usually feature a small pump inside of a water reservoir in an ice cooler. The pump runs off the car's 12VDC system. The rest of the cooler is filled with ice, to keep the water cold. You can get one right here for $320 (for a limited time.) Perhaps the military should just buy them from those guys, if they can come up with 40,000 of them or so :)

      I'm fairly certain the

      • "Ice is generally a difficult thing to find in a combat zone, even one as metropolitan as Iraq."

        The unit I was formerly with (3rd ACR, Army) has gigantic semi-trailer sized ice making machines. I don't know the exact output for one of these, but it must be in the tons per day.

        The world according to a dog's nose [suvalleynews.com]

    • Military Development (Score:5, Informative)

      by clark625 (308380) <clark625NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:19PM (#14305293) Homepage
      Okay, yes, a coolsuit isn't news for some. What I take issue with is that you seem to have taken the same, unfortunate belief that so many smart people fall into. Military development isn't cheap, and because all the exact details are rarely given out to the public, it's assumed to be mostly waste. While this may be true in some cases, it's not the norm. Believe it or not, the Army does have a limited budget and actually cares about researching many areas simultaneously; thus they do care about waste.

      Anyway, there's always a difference between a commercial technology and a military one. Take this suit for example. How many times do you think racecar drivers get shot at while in their cars? If a bullet penetrates through, what will the results be? If there is fluid leakage, will it harm internal tissue or poison the blood stream, or is it so cold that muscles will tense up? If there are wires (and there are), could those short out and cause electrical damage to the wearer? If the system becomes non-functioning, what could happen that would prevent the wearer from continuing the mission? Lastly, what do the soldiers that will be issued this device think about it? You know, the guys that have been there, and will be going back? Yep, the Army gets everyone's input (even privates), and that's a huge benefit mostly unique to our military.

      As someone that's in the Army, I can tell you that we don't get issued ANYTHING unless the leadership is confident that it will benefit our mission. That's not a bad thing.

      • Take this suit for example. How many times do you think racecar drivers get shot at while in their cars? If a bullet penetrates through, what will the results be? If there is fluid leakage, will it harm internal tissue or poison the blood stream, or is it so cold that muscles will tense up? If there are wires (and there are), could those short out and cause electrical damage to the wearer? If the system becomes non-functioning, what could happen that would prevent the wearer from continuing the mission? Las
        • The duty cycle on a piece of equipment used by NASCAR drivers isn't going to be anything like what it's going to experience in the military. How often do drivers race? Once a week, a few times a week? Once a day at most? How many connect/disconnect cycles are the connectors rated for? And the equipment is probably inspected after each use, and if it does fail, the consequences are relatively minor.

          Especially when these things are new and there aren't enough to go around, I could easily see one of these suit
      • by jafac (1449)
        it's assumed to be mostly waste.

        You misspelled "graft".

        I can tell you that we don't get issued ANYTHING unless the leadership is confident that it will benefit our mission.

        I suggest you study the history of the procurement of the Beretta 9mm pistol, replacement for the old .45 auto. Pay careful attention to the bits about known problems with metal fatigue, and slide recoil injuring shooters.
        • by still cynical (17020) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @10:37PM (#14306169) Homepage
          I suggest you study the history of the procurement of the Beretta 9mm pistol, replacement for the old .45 auto. Pay careful attention to the bits about known problems with metal fatigue, and slide recoil injuring shooters.


          If you mean the incidents that gave rise to the saying "You're not really a SEAL until you've eaten Italian steel", the problems were not with the pistol or the procurement system. The real problem was forcing the standard sidearm onto special ops units.

          The standard military sidearm has NEVER been intended for anything other than last-resort defensive use, or low-risk missions such as police, low-security guards, etc. Spec-ops guys such as SEALs, Special Forces, etc. need a pistol for primary and offensive use as well. The only way to do that (semi)effectively with a 9mm is to use ammo loaded to much higher pressures and velocities. The incidents you refer to were confined to Navy units using custom ammo loaded WAY past SAAMI specs, beyond what is usually called "+P+". Notice that it was never a wide-spread problem, and has not been known to recur since spec-ops were given more latitude to select and procure non-standard sidearms. The big H&K "offensive" pistol is designed specifically for the requirements of spec-ops, and to handle +P .45 ammo. I personally think it's not the best out there, but for very different reasons. Other special units are using .45s also, like the new 1911 designed for USMC Force Recon.

          So don't blame military waste, blame the penny-pinchers who oversee the military from nice civilian offices and have no idea what the complexities and realities are.
        • I suggest you study the history of the procurement of the Beretta 9mm pistol, replacement for the old .45 auto.

          One caveat...

          Of all the fanboys I've ever met, none were ever as rabid as 1911 fanboys. A Muslim might strap himself to a bomb to fight infidels, a Christian might let themselves be thrown to the lions rather than give up his fate, but a 1911 fanboy will sit in his Lay-Z-Boy with the lights out for months just waiting for a burglar to shoot at so that he brag about it on m1911.org
    • I thought the same thing at first, but then I realized that milspec isn't just another word for overpriced. When the military does stuff like this, it has a lot of considerations that you don't think of.

      1) Where would you get ice or dry ice in Iraq?
      2) The one you refer to lasts 2 hours on dry ice for 1 person. Now think 4 people for 10 hours and no dry ice.
      3) Is it light enough that you can get out of it in a firefight and still be mobile enough to survive.
      4) Does it go on top of or below fatigues/armor/e

    • This system has been used even in amateur racing for literally decades. It's called a "coolsuit" and they are neither particularly novel nor expensive. However, I would assume that this system costs a hojillion-billion dollars, because it was "developed" for the military.

      The main issue is that the gear has to survive combat. Something as simple as a 3-5 second rush involves repeatedly jumping down into a prone position over whatever happens to be on the ground, rocks, sticks, whatever.
  • São Paulo summer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mark_in_Brazil (537925) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:50PM (#14305099)
    I live in São Paulo. In the summer, when it isn't raining (and sometimes even when it is raining) it gets frickin' hot. When I didn't have a car (and for the short time when I had a car without air conditioning) and had to visit customers wearing at least "business casual-plus" clothes and sometimes a suit and tie during the summer, my mind naturally turned to ways to keep myself cool so I wouldn't arrive all sweaty and wrinkled at the customer sites.
    I had the idea of a personal cooling unit, with a box (maybe carried in a briefcase) that would cool some liquid (water maybe) and pump it through tubes that I would be wearing to cool strategic regions of my body (major arteries and possibly veins near the skin seemed like good places to have the tubes passing). I had this amazing mental image of me walking down the Avenida Paulista (a famous major avenue in the city) in the blazing sun on the hottest day of the year, wearing a black wool suit and looking cool and comfortable while people around me in shorts, sleeveless shirts and sandals were panting and bathed in sweat.
    The technical issues seemed tough to master, especially the question of how I would cool the water (or other liquid). Then it occurred to me that I could just have a reservoir filled with as much ice as it could hold, and then cold water filling the remaining space. A simple battery-operated pump would pump the water through aquarium tubing to the aforementioned strategic points and then back to the reservoir for heat exchange with the ice and cooler water. This version would be able to provide cooling for a much shorter time than the one with a portable refrigeration unit, but one could always refill the reservoir with ice and water, and it would be a lot easier to build and maintain. I would be able to build it from readily available (and inexpensive) components. Not to mention that I wouldn't have the problem of powering a portable refrigeration unit. This one seemed doable, but I ended up buying a car with air conditioning before I got around to making my personal cooling unit, and my interest in actually completing the project waned.
  • by minus_273 (174041) <aaaaa@SPAM. y a h oo.com> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:54PM (#14305126) Journal
    military spending is such a waste. I can't remember the last time i used something developed by the military. I think the net would be a better place without this kind of research.
  • i don't know (Score:5, Informative)

    by xo0bob0ox (600085) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @07:55PM (#14305133) Homepage
    I don't know if this is such a good idea..when I was in Afghanistan we often were in humvees and they were already crammed as it is. I think anything like this would just add to the chaos that is inside the humvee. Although it is a step in the right direction It just dosn't seem smart. Its hard to get out of a humvee when you plan to, and I can't imagine how bad this might add to any reaction to contact or IED. The Ac in humvees right now is not too bad, its just the fact that it overheats the engine and you end up having to shut it off is what sucks. Then again, its always cool up top on the turret...
  • This is interesting, but I will be really excited when we have our own Still-Suits ala Dune. I mean, I would think we have the technology to make still-suits a reality.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)
      Becasue drinking your own sweat is fun!
    • http://technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=42 [technovelgy.com]

      It's basically a micro-sandwich; a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system. the skin-contact layer is porous. Perspiration passes through it, having cooled the body. Motions of the body, especially breathing, and some osmotic action provide the pumping force. With a Fremen suit in good working order, you won't lose more than a thimbleful of moisture a day - even if you're caught in the Great Erg.

      I thought the entire mechanism behind perspiration was that

  • But even with air conditioning, temperatures inside the armored vehicles could still reach 95 degrees in the sun, Bussee said. So something more was needed.

    Ummm... This sounds pretty ridiculous to those of us who live in the desert. Around here, when it's 125F degrees in the shade, everyone still works outside, and many in direct sunlight. I *never* even turn on my car's air conditioner (though admitedly, most people do).

    Can someone fill me in as to why Iraq is so different that people can't work in temp

    • Do you wear full body armour on top of coveralls and carry 50 pounds of equipment wherever you go on those days? I know I sure as hell wouldn't if I had the choice hehe.

    • Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:10PM (#14305239) Homepage Journal
      I am going on a limg here and say your not wearing T-shirt, long pants, long sleeves, helmet, flak jacket,canteen, side arm, automatic weaponn, ammo, etc . . .

      All while looking for people trying to kill you.

      " I *never* even turn on my car's air conditioner (though admitedly, most people do)."

      yeah, well your a kook.

      • yeah, well your a kook.
        He's not the one running around in the desert wearing a T-shirt, long pants, long sleeves, helmet, flak jacket,canteen, side arm, automatic weaponn, ammo, etc . . . all while looking for people trying to kill him.
    • Can someone fill me in as to why Iraq is so different that people can't work in tempuratures even lower than people in So. California/Arizona/Nevada are used-to?

      The job is what's different: if you're feeling like crap doing your civilian work, you can sit down and stop working or go in the shade. You probably don't even realize the number of times you've been close to a heat injury.

      If you're on a mission, however, you usually can't and if you haven't prepared for it you're going to get a heat injury. Now th
  • by jmv (93421)
    ...the vehicles could reportedly reach more than 130 degrees. 'It's like putting somebody in a toaster oven on low heat,...

    OK, so I have the temperature on the Fahrenheit scale and on the "kitchen appliances" scale. Now, how about a SI unit like, say, degrees Celcius (or Kelvin, why not)?
  • Big Deal (Score:3, Informative)

    by ndansmith (582590) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:30PM (#14305377)
    Nike Developed already these for the University of Oregon football team:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Ducks#Relation ship_with_Nike [wikipedia.org]
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2003/football/nca a/08/26/bc.fbc.missst.nike.ap/ [cnn.com]
    http://www.fanblogs.com/pac10/004233.php [fanblogs.com]

    Some sources say that they use some sort of liquid coolant, which can also be heated, while others say compressed air is used. Still, the point is that the Ducks are better equipped than the Army.

  • Why don't they just fix the air conditioning in the HumVee in the first place.
  • by horacerumpole (877156) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:51PM (#14305495)
    I don't remember where is this originated, but I've heard of research which came up with the conclusion that just cooling the head by 2-3 degrees celsius (4-5 fahrenheit?) helps a lot in letting a person concentrate. I think Israeli tank crews have such head coolers attached to their helmets.

    Then again - a tank's crew mission is usually to stay in the tank while a humvee crew might have a need to move around more easely (but maybe just cooling their head will help to decrease the cooling unit size and weight).

  • Nuts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thunderpaws (199100) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:09PM (#14305599)
    A small cooler for the head, and maybe for under the armpits, would be cheaper and more easily distributed to all infantry that would not add much bulk or weight to their body armor. More junk makes it harder the the troops to fire and maneuver. These suits are better suited for armor rather than scout vehicles.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @10:45PM (#14306220)
    Does this mean we can overclock our soldiers?

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