Cooling clothes material stays flexible even when frozen

(Credit: Speshul Ted/Flickr)

A new technology can enhance physical and mental endurance by helping prevent overheating among endurance athletes, occupational workers, and people with chronic illnesses.

Common cooling technologies have been around for many years, including gel, ice, evaporative, and other phase change technologies.

“Our material is ductile, flexible, and lightweight.”

Luanne DiBernardo, cofounder of Coolnomics LLC, a company working on the new material, called CoolPak Hydrogel, explains that “evaporative cooling products are dependent on circulating air and a lack of humidity, so are impractical and ineffective in most environments.”

Shenqiang Ren, a professor in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University at Buffalo who also holds appointments in the chemistry department, and the RENEW Institute, has worked with Coolnomics LLC and QSG Technologies to create a more advanced material that will provide high-impact cooling while remaining flexible even when frozen, enabling a more effective and comfortable cooling experience.

“The previous cooling materials have been rigid and tough, which makes them unforgiving for athletes, occupational workers, soldiers, and so much more,” says Ren. “Our material is ductile, flexible, and lightweight. This is accomplished by locking the water into the polymer chain network.”

The new technology will be incorporated into wearables designed to enhance physical and mental endurance. The idea is to prevent heat injuries among the many populations commonly challenged when exertional heat (rising body temperatures due to intense exercising in the heat) meets environmental heat.

In addition to the industries mentioned above, other sectors affected by extreme heat include the oil, gas, airline, and nuclear industries. Within those populations are many of the “estimated 157 million Americans with a chronic illness,” as reported by the National Health Council. Heat is proven to worsen the side effects of many chronic conditions.

CoolPak Hydrogel products will be manufactured in Buffalo.

The material is described in a study in the journal Nanoscale Advances.

The work is supported by a grant from FuzeHub, a nonprofit organization that assists small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies in New York State.

Source: Douglas Sitler University at Buffalo