Saturday , May 15 2021
Home / HEADLINES / INDIA / ‘Artificial blubber’ to protect divers in icy water

‘Artificial blubber’ to protect divers in icy water

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and George Mason University in the US developed a simple treatment that can improve the survival time for a conventional wetsuit
by a factor of three. “The process works by simply placing the standard neoprene wetsuit inside a pressure tank autoclave no bigger than a beer keg, filled with a heavy inert gas, for about a day. The treatment then lasts for about 20 hours, far longer than anyone would spend on a dive&quot”, said Jacopo Buongiorno, professor at MIT.

When rescue teams are diving under ice-covered rivers or ponds, the survival time even in the best wetsuits is very limited – as little as tens of minutes, and the experience can be extremely painful at best.
“The process could also be done in advance, with the wetsuit placed in a sealed bag to be opened
just before”, he said.

Researchers looked at the different strategies that various animals use to survive in these frigid waters, and found three types: air pockets trapped in fur or feathers, as with otters and penguins; internally generated heat, as with some animals and fish; or a layer of insulating material that greatly slows heat loss from the body, as with seals’ and whales’ blubber.

After simulations and lab tests, they ended up with a combination of two of these – a blubber-like insulating material that also makes use of trapped pockets of gas, although in this case the gas is not air but a heavy inert gas, namely xenon or krypton.

Please share this news