Article Archive
Thermal Performance
DuPont introduces new thermal liner technology
Volume 24 Number3

Of 103 firefighter line-of-duty deaths reported in 2007, only four were from burns. According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics, the leading cause of death was sudden cardiac arrest, claiming 39 firefighter lives. Of 38,340 fire ground injuries reported that year, 395 heart attacks and strokes were reported.

Another 2,410 injuries were attributed to "thermal stress" other than burns, the NFPA reports.

"We recognize that for firefighters the number one cause of death is heart attacks and heat exhaustion," said Dale Outhous, global business director of DuPont's personal protection division. "We continue to look at technology that makes turnout gear lighter and more comfortable while also providing increased thermal protection for firefighters."

Nomex? On Demand?, a patented smart fiber technology, gives firefighters up to 20 percent more thermal performance when they encounter emergency conditions. However, in routine conditions, the material remains thin and flexible, combining thermal protection with breathability.

"It gives the firefighter increased thermal protection when they absolutely need it in emergency conditions," Outhous said.

Used as a thermal liner in firefighter turnout gear, Nomex? On Demand?, reacts to emergency conditions and automatically expands to trap more air for greater thermal insulation, Outhous said.

"Once you get past 250 degrees Fahrenheit you run the risk of second degree burns," Outhous said. "This material does not change form until that point. When the temperature inside the turnout reaches 250 degrees or higher, this technology self-activates and expands."

Testing shows that Nomex? On Demand?, achieves a significant increase in thermal protection performance (TPP) with minimal shrinkage. On the other hand, it maintains good total heat loss (THL) under routine conditions.

"Most of the time firefighters are not in an emergency heat situation," Outhous said. "The thermal liner remains a thinner, more comfortable system. It will only activate when exposed to the right temperature. That's why we call it smart technology."

The new technology is commercially available in the United States and Canada and will be available globally in late 2009. Nomex? On Demand?, has been tested by DuPont, its customers and independent third parties. It meets NFPA standards and has been certified for use by Underwriters Laboratories.

"The industry is excited about this new technology and what it will provide to the firefighter," Outhous said.

In terms of price, Outhous describes Nomex? On Demand?, as a "premium thermal liner technology."

It will be about a 10 percent premium on the thermal liner, but when you translate that into the turnout gear, DuPont estimates you are probably only looking at a one or two percent increase."

While initially available in firefighter gear, DuPont is reviewing additional applications for Nomex? On Demand?, including auto racing, wildfire control, oil and gas operations and military uses.


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