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When The Heat is On, New Face Paint Keeps Soldiers Safe

Face paint isn't just for looks anymore. Recently, U.S. researchers have developed a camouflage face paint that can withstand the heat from a bomb blast and protect soldiers from severe burns during combat.

The face paint that soldiers have used makes the radiative heat from bomb blasts worse because it contains oil and wax, according to a Gizmodo article.

Researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi were given funding by the U.S. Department of Defense to create a heat-resistant product that would keep soldiers safe. Robert Lochhead, a professor of polymer science at the university, presented the material to the American Chemical Society about three weeks ago.

“The detonation of a roadside bomb or any other powerful explosive produces two dangerous blasts,” Lochhead said in a news release from the American Chemical Society. “First comes a blast wave of high pressure that spreads out at supersonic speeds and can cause devastating internal injuries. A thermal blast follows almost instantaneously. It is a wave of heat that exceeds 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s as hot as a burning cigarette. The thermal blast lasts only two seconds, but it can literally cook the face, hands and other exposed skin.”

To shield skin from this heat, the team of researchers formulated a camouflage makeup that acts as a protective barrier to the face and hands for 15 seconds before a first-degree burn would appear, according to the release. This time would give soldiers a chance to move away from the heat.

The face paint consists of silicones, which absorb radiation and are not as flammable. It is also waterproof and insect proof, as DEET, surrounded by a hydrogel substance, was added to the formula. The release states that Lochhead and his team have plans to transfer the usefulness of this material to tents, clothes and other military items.

Aside from face paint, scientists have been concocting a number of different gadgets to help soldiers in the field.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently created a method for extinguishing fire using acoustics, according to an article from Discovery News. To showcase this feat, two speakers are placed facing a flame, and the noise increases air velocity, which eventually extinguishes the fire.

Another recent invention shields soldiers from chemical warfare by using a device that detects chemical weapons with sound, according to Fox News. Under the Department of Defense’s Joint Chemical Agent Detector (JCAD) program, the U.S. Army has purchased $21 million in Smiths Detection's handheld chemical detector.

The little device can warn a soldier of blister, nerve and blood chemical warfare substances by listening with microphones to the typical sounds of different chemical agents. If the detector produces a louder tone, that means the substance is closer to the soldier. This invention could help save the lives of many service members.

Looking to the future, another new technological breakthrough could exist in military helmets. A researcher from Arizona State University funded by DARPA is working to create a helmet with technology, or transcranial pulsed ultrasound, that can regulate the brains of service members, according to an article from How Stuff Works. Directing sound waves to the brain, the helmet is able to control specific sections of the brain.

What this means for soldiers is that they could use the helmet to be more alert in stressful times or more relaxed at night. They could even use the helmet as a painkiller. This technology is still in the works, however, and would take much perfecting before appearing on the battlefield.

Recent and new military technology innovations, whether face paint or chemical warfare detectors, are transforming the lives of service members every day and will continue to do so in the future.

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