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Regents Hear about 'Cool' New Twist to OSU Body Armor Suit

Friday, April 22, 2005

OKLAHOMA CITY - One of the three researchers who has developed a new armored suit for U.S. soldiers, told Oklahoma State University/A&M Regents Friday that she and her co-workers have added a cooling system on the latest model of the suit.

While presenting an earlier model of the lightweight armored outfit to the regents, Dr. Cheryl Farr noted that the military requested and researchers recently forwarded a newer prototype that included a micro-engineered, thermal powder cooling system.

The new prototype was funded by the Naval Research Laboratory, which is currently putting it through various tests, according to Dr. Donna Branson, head of the OSU Design, Housing and Merchandising Department.

Branson, Farr and Semra Peksoz have researched and developed each new suit. The latest model represents the third contract between the military lab, private contractor FS Technologies Inc., and the trio of professors who work for the department in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at OSU.

Sgt. Ryan Wallace, a cadet with the U.S. Army ROTC at OSU, demonstrated the suit’s mobility to regents during Farr’s presentation.  In addition to its flexibility, the suit offers the protection of multiple layers of a ballistic cloth that is known as Dyneema.  

The fabric, made up of fibers that are 15 times stronger than steel, rapidly absorbs the energy of an explosion to protect a soldier’s vulnerable arteries, joints and nerve bundles. Though layered, the material remains lightweight, weighing about 10 lbs. per suit.

OSU Body Armor Suit 2-2-2-2-2

Researchers say the only downside to the addition of the cooling system is the weight that it adds. “However, depending on the situation, the ability to cool could be much more important than the extra 2.5 lbs. the cooling system adds to the suit,” says Branson.

The protective suit, which has gained widespread media coverage in the state could soon be the topic of several network features. ABC, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel have all requested information about the suit.
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