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Development of nanostructure fiber for advanced firefighting suits
Feb '10
The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Teijin Techno Products Limited and Hosokawa Micron Corporation announced the development of a new fabric incorporating nanostructure fiber for use in advanced firefighting suits that are 40% more effective in preventing burns than without nanostructure fiber and 15% lighter than conventional heat-barrier linings.

The nanostructure fiber is made by kneading nanosized carbon particles into Technora fiber, Teijin Techno Products' high-performance para-aramid fiber offering high strength, heat resistance, dimensional stability and chemical resistance.

The two basic functions of firefighting suits are 1) flame and heat barrier properties and 2) comfort to alleviate fatigue and heatstroke. Until now, it has been technically difficult to combine both at a high level, but the new fabric realizes both functions in the heat-barrier layer, a lining serving as the innermost of three layers in firefighting suits.

The key development was the uniform dispersion of nanosized carbon particles in Technora aramid fiber to substantially increase thermal conductivity compared to ordinary aramid fiber, allowing the efficient diffusion and radiation of heat reaching the inside of the suit. Tests conducted by Teijin Techno Products show that suits lined with the new fabric are 40% better in preventing second- and third-degree burns compared to suits that do not use nanostructure fiber. In addition, the fabric lowers the weight of the heat-barrier layer by 15% compared to conventional linings capable of equivalent heat resistance.

The fabric satisfies both North American heat-barrier performance standards, thought to be the world's strictest for firefighting suits, and Japanese firefighting suit standards, which are among the world's most demanding in terms of comfort.

Teijin Techno Products and Hosokawa Micron, working under NEDO's Research and Development of Nanodevices for Practical Utilization of Nanotechnology (Nanotech Challenge Program), collaborated to create the fabric. Hosokawa Micron developed nanoparticles with superior heat resistance that can be uniformly dispersed in aramid fiber, and also established conditions for manufacturing the nanoparticles. Teijin Techno Products developed the nanostructure fiber by kneading the nanoparticles into Technora aramid fiber, and it also developed the stack structure to enable the fabric to be used as a lining in firefighting suits.

Methods for analyzing and evaluating nanostructure fiber and particle dispersion were developed through an industry-government-academic collaboration led by Prof. Akihiko Tanioka at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Prof. Hidehiro Kamiya at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.

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