Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology or Empa have developed an air-conditioned bulletproof vest based on Coolpad technology that could help keep police officers cool under the heat of the sun. Empa’s Coolpad technology was originally designed for use in cooling garments for various medical applications. According to Empa, the Coolpads are built into the vest and they evaporate sweat through the membrane to help cool down the wearer. The vest also appears to have a mini fan that blows air through a fabric spacer behind the pad that provides more cooling.
But integrating an air conditioning system into a garment proved to be quite a challenge for Empa. Engineers, however, were able to design a miniature fan that was small enough to be built into the vest. They also developed a suitable fabric spacer with Swiss textile manufacturer Eschler that was stable yet flexible enough. They also discovered a technique for welding the pads to the vests with diode lasers to keep the material flexible. In order to simplify refilling the cool pads with water, they developed a portable filling station that can be attached to the vest with a quick-release fastener.
Using freshly charged batteries, the vest can operate under the heat of the sun for three to four hours. Empa said that the first series of vests will be produced in the near future by project partner Unico Swiss Tex GmbH. “Police personnel who have to use bullet-proof vests made of Kevlar under their uniforms sweat profusely when the weather is warm – a situation that is merely uncomfortable and could affect the physical performance of police officers on duty,” Empa said.