High-tech camouflage could protect soldiers from ballistic heat

Air Force Fire and Emergency Services member Nathan Fitzwater uses camouflage and face paint in Guam in 2005. Traditional face paint can actually absorb, instead of reflect, heat.

(Credit:
U.S. Air Force,Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Powerful explosives from fires or roadside bombs produce two near-simultaneous blasts: first, a high-pressure blast that can cause internal injuries, and then a thermal blast that produces temps above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can literally cook skin, according to Robert Lochhead, a professor of polymer science at the University of Southern Mississippi.

He worked with chemists to engineer a high-tech camouflage paint that is waterproof; easy to apply and remove; non-irritating to the eyes, nose, and mouth; and actually reflects — instead of absorbs, like most face paints — intense heat.

The toughest challenge, Lochhead reported to the American Chemical Society during its 244th national meeting this week, was to accomplish all this without using mineral oil and spirits or fatty hydrocarbon substances typically used in makeup. (Hydrocarbon can actual… [Read more]

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