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U.S. Army Testing Personal Cooling Suits 398

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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  • Hot and cold? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Poromenos1 ( 830658 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:22PM (#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?
  • by Yartrebo ( 690383 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:27PM (#14304913)
    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.
  • Re:Deja Vu (Score:3, Interesting)

    by twiddlingbits ( 707452 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:38PM (#14305003)
    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 135 and up and for 3-4 hours during a race.
  • Re:Holy Pork Fatman! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:39PM (#14305010) Homepage Journal
    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 do it yourself by mixing and matching parts, using convenient parts you can buy at the local parts house (pep boys, kragen, whatever.)
  • Whoop de doo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:45PM (#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 [] 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 :)

  • São Paulo summer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mark_in_Brazil ( 537925 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:50PM (#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 horacerumpole ( 877156 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:51PM (#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).

  • Re:Here's a problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 955301 ( 209856 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @10:53PM (#14305892) Journal
    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.
  • by Wonko ( 15033 ) <> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @11:08PM (#14305992) Homepage Journal

    Do what they do to deal with the heat. Instead of $5000 air conditioned suits, consider wearing a shawez kameez or other clothing that has been developed by the locals over a thousand years to deal with the climate.

    Yeah, because the natives drive around in heavily armored humvees all day long, right? Personally, I know that sitting in a slow moving car, with the windows down, in the Texas sun in the middle of the summer is quite hot. What is it going to be like if you raise the temperature and decrease the ventilation?

    I believe they will require some active cooling.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @11:33PM (#14306147)
    And play baseball.

    And are now a democracy, not an autocratic empire with a warrior caste that fought to the death, including by suicide attacks.

    And them Germans. They've got themselves a democracy, also. Hell, they haven't even invaded France since Russian tanks poured into Berlin and US tanks poured over the Rhine.

    Oh, both places still have US troops deployed in them. 60+ years after the murderous dictators were deposed.
  • lesser evil (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:03AM (#14306305) Homepage
    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 [] 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 of detection. These old models don't have AC). With a lot of people wearing a huge amount of clothing and equipment (uniform, armor, harness, ...) trapped in such small confined space, overheating happens very easily.
    Also I don't even mention how some chiefs succeded to fuck up the water supply managment during long marching exercises.

    So : Yes, given such problems with heat, this kind of technology is welcome. Although I'm sure some officiers can still manage to find a way to fuckup and bring more overheated soldiers to the hospital.

    About the Air Conditionning :
    I *think* (it's just quick guestimation) the worst effects of the AC are :
    - because, obviously, they only work inside, when one is going from one place to another, one is constantly alternating hot/freezing environnements. Which isn't good.
    - AC functions by convection (cold air circulation). So you don't get only cold air, but you got actually *cold wind*, which can freeze much more. 18C isn't a cold temperature. But, stong wind blowing at 18C can cool you a lot (surface skin temperature is somewhere near 30C +/- 5C. Don't remember more exact figures), specially if you aren't properly dressed (as everyone dresses on hot days).
    - Near the "wind source", the temperature can be even lower. You can get harmed (or at least sick) if you fall asleep near the AC source. (The exact same opposite as falling asleap to close to the heat source in winter)

    That's why we european have to always take sweatshirts when we travel in the USA, to avoid catching cold because of the strong A/C inside.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:56AM (#14306802)
    For what it's worth this isn't all that new.

    Canadian helicopter crews used cooling suits in the first gulf war... The suits were jury rigged together by Defence Research and Development of Canada (DRDC) in under a couple of weeks and allowed flight crews to remain in the air for longer periods...

    See the DRDC website at: ctsheets/f05_e.html []

    The Shearwater Aviation Museam in Halifax has one of the suits on display: ctsheets/f05_e.html []

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:45AM (#14306965) Homepage
    You have, apparently, not thought this through.

    Why does water cool people down? Because heat is convected from the human body into the water, which then evaporates. This disipates the heat energy.

    Have you ever lived in a hot, dry climate? Anything short of water cooling of some sort will NOT cool them down at a fast enough rate. They have ambient dry heat indexes of 120F on a regular, daily basis over there. Have you ever gotten into a vehicle during the middle of the summer, and the steering wheel is too hot to touch? You'll immediately roll the window down because it's almost too hot to breath. It rarely gets above 105F in the US. Now, think of being in an armored vehicle, with the motor running, and the heat on, with the windows down, wearing a combat pack, long clothing, boots, gloves, and a helmet - and with 5 other men in the vehicle with you. THAT is the kind of heat they are in over there.

    Look at a photo from Iraq of our troops. Notice how everyone is wearing gloves? There's a reason for that: their guns and other gear are too hot to touch.

    The only way they could really do it would be with water of some sort. The only practical way to do it is to drink it, as pouring it on yourself or your clothing will a) get you dirty - really dirty - really quickly, b) do little, as it will evaporate too quickly, c) waste valuable water, and d) decrease their agility and ability to move quickly.
  • Re:lesser evil (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:24AM (#14307073)
    That's why we european have to always take sweatshirts when we travel in the USA, to avoid catching cold because of the strong A/C inside.

    One of the things I hated about Las Vegas when I was on vacation there was the AC in the casinos. Alternating between 112F outside and maybe 70F inside is rough.
  • by Rxke ( 644923 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:00AM (#14307171) Homepage
    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 commented he constantly heard, via translators, the locals thought they were wearing some cooling gizmo, and he was clearly fed up with it.
  • Absolutely (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kahei ( 466208 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @06:07AM (#14307501) Homepage
    Eventually the individual solders will drift out of the command structure and find that they have to make a seperate peace with the local people.

    Oh yeah, bound to. I mean, it's simply so much easier to just sorta 'drift out of the command structure', desert, change skin color, learn Arabic, and become an Iraqi than it is to finish your tour and go home.

    You may not be aware of this, but as things currently stand:

    --The US Army, as a rule, frowns on soldiers who 'drift out of the command structure'.
    --Iraq, as a rule, does not appear to offer an easy path to a happy and secure life to deserters from occupying armies.

    I agree, though, that if the parent post's sheer naievete could be weaponized, it would be deadly enough to force any of these circumstances to change.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982