Diver Suit - Advanced Warfighter Technologies Laboratory
Hypothermia is a major health hazard for divers, as humans lose heat to water at least 5 times faster than to air. Hypothermia can lead to unconsciousness, organ damage, and eventually death. Divers typically wear bubbled neoprene wetsuits to protect themselves from these harsh conditions. However, wetsuits have their limitations. Air bubbles within the neoprene shrink with depth under the increasing ambient pressure, which degrades the suit’s thermal protection. Thicker neoprene is warmer but is less flexible and fatigues the diver faster. We have come up with and are testing an alternative solution based on incompressible hollow microspheres embedded in carrier polymer, with the resulting suits outperforming neoprene in both thermal protection and ergonomics.