Exposed skin and massive blasts of heat are generally considered a bad combination — and now scientists have created a lotion that could protect soldiers and firefighters from flames.
Explosives can cause damage in two ways — through either a concussive blast, or the shortly following heatwave that can hit temperatures of 1,112°F. Unsurprisingly, the US military has been on the hunt for something that can protect the exposed skin of soldiers from these intense heat blasts, and researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi may have now discovered how.
The new material is being presented at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, and is able to protect against extreme heat for more than 15 seconds before it gets hot enough to pass on even a first degree burn.
Smeared on like sunscreen, the stuff had to meet stringent requirements from the military: it had to reflect intense heat; have camouflage colors suitable for day and night use; be easy to apply and remove; be waterproof; and be non-irritating to the eyes, nose and mouth. Not only that, but it had to be able to include the insect repellant DEET, which is directly flammable.
The researchers turned to silicones as the base of the makeup, as they were not as flammable as hydrocarbons, and coated the DEET particles in hydrogels to stop them from catching fire. So soldiers will be able to have this stuff on, and save their skin from the 2 second inferno that accompanies explosives. So, how long before someone coats themselves in it and sprints through a fire?