ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md.-- The U.S. Military is always looking for the next-generation of equipment to help Soldiers and Marines who are serving their country.
So imagine what they go through when they're in full combat gear -- including chemical-biological protection and it's super hot outside?
According to a news release from the U.S. Miltary, technology is the relief that the US Army is hoping for. A new mask brings this relief to a Soldier through a powered air purifying respirator, which consists of a hose connected to the face mask from a blower unit and battery pack hanging off the hip or back.
A typical respirator is heavy and cumbersome, adding to the weight of the equipment troops already carry.
In 2013, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center scientists began designing concepts for the next generation of chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear respirators. They developed a fan embedded within the mask's filtration system that uses less power, is lighter and is far less bulky than conventional respirators. In addition to reduced weight and power requirements, this system offers major improvements to the level of comfort and effectiveness of the mask.
The mini-blower works by pulling air through a filtration system on the side of the mask and sweeping it across the nose cup to allow for even flow across the face. When the user exhales, the air valve closes and diverts all of the clean filtered air into the mask's eye cavity to over-pressurize the face piece, preventing any potential for outside contaminates to enter the mask should there be a break in the seal.
In test studies, a modified, commercial version of the M50 joint service general purpose mask has proven to be more comfortable to a Soldier, and maintains the same or greater effectiveness when crawling, running, or during rifle exercises and combat maneuvers. These technology demonstrations produced real-time data on mask protection factors, thermal sensation and comfort to the Soldier.