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Lighter, flexible chemical protective suit being developed

Swatches | November 1, 2023 | By:

Researchers at DITF are testing a lighter chemical protective suit that also monitors the environment and the wearer for increased safety. Image: DITF

Workers at the risk of exposure to chemical, biological or radioactive hazards often need to wear heavy, bulky suits for protection. Researchers at the German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf (DITF), in partnership with several companies and fire departments, are working to develop a suit that’s both lighter and that allows better mobility.

Traditional chemical protective suits (CSAs) are made of stiff, multicoated fabric layered over a frame and include a breathing apparatus. They weigh approximately 25 kilograms (55 pounds) and require assistance to put on. Emergency personnel can work in them for only about 30 minutes at a time.

The project’s goal was to create a chemical- and gas-tight suit that fits closer to the body and is more flexible. For the suit, called the AgiCSA, researchers looked at a knitted rather than woven textile, ultimately using 3-millimeter (0.1-inch) spacer fabrics made of a polyester pile yarn and flame-retardant fiber blend of aramid and viscose, spray-coated with fluorinated or butyl rubber. Its diagonal zipper should allow the wearer to put on the suit without help. Currently in testing, the suit also contains integrated sensors that monitor the wearer’s health and environment and track the person’s GPS location.

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