Navy Seals, rescue personnel and athletes could all benefit from a new wetsuit treatment that reduces risk in icy and dangerously cold waters.
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the U.S. Navy have developed a new treatment method which is implemented by placing a standard neoprene wetsuit inside a pressure tank autoclave filled with a heavy inert gas, for approximately a day. The coating could last as long as 20 hours, much longer than anyone would typically spend underwater.
The survival time for Navy Seals during dives in Arctic waters or for rescue teams diving under ice-covered rivers or ponds can be as low as ten minutes and is often painful. The researchers found that the new wetsuit treatment improved the survivability in water colder than 10 degrees Celsius from less than one hour to up to three hours.
The researchers were inspired by their work as part of the Defense Science Study Group for the U.S. Department of Defense, where they learned about the military’s needs.
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