MIT develops a wetsuit for special forces soldiers for survival in cold water

The command of the elite combat swimmers of the United States Navy asked researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop a special wetsuit that would provide the ability to survive in cold water for a long time without compromising mobility. Two years later, a solution was found.

In nature, animals use one of three natural forms of protection to protect themselves from the cold. So, great white sharks are able to generate internal heat, while nature has provided penguins with air pockets that act as a heat-insulating layer. Finally, some animals are covered with a layer of natural insulation, for example, like seals, with fur and a layer of subcutaneous fat.

Most wetsuits use the last two of the above types of protection. The material usually used is synthetic neoprene rubber, which resembles dense foam with many small air pockets that trap body heat inside the suit.

MIT researchers have improved on this scheme by replacing the air in the pockets with a heavy inert gas (xenon or krypton), which further inhibits heat transfer. As a result, if earlier the wetsuit was "enough" for less than one hour of work in water at + 10 ° C, now the time threshold has increased to two or three hours.