US Air Force Showcases Wearable Cooling Equipment for Troops

The US Air Force has introduced a wearable cooling solution for warfighters as part of an innovative partnership project with airmen.

Spark Tank is an annual competition in which military personnel present technological concepts that will benefit troops during operations.

The service showcased the Acclimate Cooling System, which cools off a soldier when they wear their tactical vest.

Acclimate developer Captain Justin O’Brien explained that the capability works similarly to “a giant radiator,” absorbing body heat from the user and emitting it into the environment.

“The inspiration for that cooling system started when I was a security forces member, witnessing myself and my team enduring the thermal burden of body armor on a day-to-day basis,” he stated.

“The concept of the Acclimate is to integrate a water bladder and circulate that water through a cooling pad on the user’s back.”

Future Applications

O’Brien noted that another project is underway to identify additional use cases for the Acclimate.

“The great thing about the Acclimate system is it can be applied in a lot of different ways to a lot of different people,” he said.

“Right now, it’s designed for the person that wears body armor on a day-to-day basis. However, the embodiments are being developed where it can be integrated maybe onto a dog or maintainer.”

Innovative Support

O’Brien clarified that their team did not win during the Spark Tank’s iteration two years ago. 

However, the captain’s group and their invention received support from the program and other US Air Force innovative arms to further improve the Acclimate’s functionality.

“We turned to the 711th Human Performance Wing to further refine it,” O’Brien said. “And the Tesseract team brought it to where it is now. With the Air Force’s Tesseract team, we were able to realize this idea, turning this conceptual idea into reality.”

“Innovation doesn’t discriminate when it comes from a STEM background. I’m not formally educated as an engineer. My experience is what drove this idea, and everybody has their own experiences and can start the innovation process at their level.”

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