A newly developed concept for chemical protection suits was developed to make the use more comfortable and safer for the wearer. New materials and an improved design increase comfort. Integrated sensors monitor the vital functions.
Chemical protection suits (CSA) protect people from physical contact when there is a risk of chemical, biological or radioactive substances. CSA consists of a breathing apparatus, head protection, carrying frames and the suit itself. The total weight is around 25 kg. The construction of a multi-coated fabric makes the CSA stiff and significantly restricts freedom of movement. This puts the emergency services under significant physical strain. For this reason, the total deployment time when using a CSA is limited to 30 minutes.
Cooperation for comprehensive protection
In a joint project with various companies, institutes and professional fire brigades, work is currently being carried out on completely redesigning both the textile material composite and the hard components and connecting elements between the two. The goal is a so-called "AgiCSA", which offers significantly more comfort for the emergency services due to the lighter and more flexible construction. The sub-project of the DITF focuses on the one hand on the development of an individually adaptable, body-hugging suit and on the other hand on the integration of sensors that serve the online monitoring of important bodily functions of the emergency services.
The DITF received support from the Esslingen fire brigade at the beginning of the project. It provided a complete CSA that is now used as standard. This could be tested at the DITF for its wearing properties. The Denkdorf researchers are investigating where there is a need for optimization for improved ergonomic wearing comfort.
The aim is to construct a chemical and gas-tight suit that fits relatively closely to the body. It quickly became clear that we had to abandon the previous concept of using fabrics as the basic textile material and think in the direction of elastic knitted goods. In the implementation of this idea, the researchers came to the aid of recent developments in the field of knitting technology in the form of spacer fabrics. By using spacer textiles, many of the requirements placed on the base substrate can be met very well.
Spacer textiles have a voluminous, elastic structure. A 3 mm thick spacer fabric made of a polyester pile thread and a flame-retardant fiber mixture of aramide and viscose was selected for the new CSA from a wide range of fiber types and three-dimensional construction features that can be used. This textile is coated on both sides with fluorine or butyl rubber. This gives the textile a barrier function that prevents the penetration of toxic liquids and gases. The coating is applied to the ready-made suit using a newly developed spraying process. The advantage of this process over the previous coating process is that the desired elasticity of the suit is retained.
Another novelty is the integration of a diagonal zipper. This makes it easier to put on and take off the protective suit. While this was previously only possible with the help of another person, the new suit can in principle be put on by the emergency services personnel alone. The new design is based on modern dry suits with diagonal, gas-tight zippers.
security and surveillance
In addition, sensors are integrated in the new AgiSCA, which allow the transmission and monitoring of the vital and environmental data of the emergency personnel as well as their location via GPS data. These additional functions significantly support operational safety. Light carbon fiber reinforced composite materials from Wings and More GmbH & Co. KG are used for the hard components, i.e. the helmet and the backpack for the compressed air supply.
The first demonstrators are available and are available to the project partners for testing purposes. In this project, the combination of current textile technology, lightweight construction concepts and IT integration in textiles has led to a comprehensive improvement of a high-tech product.