US Air Force funds research for new flight suit insulation

U.S. Air Force photo

OROS, a Portland-based cold-weather apparel company, was awarded a research grant from the United States Air Force through the AFWERX program to study the application of their SOLARCORE insulation technology to long-range flight suits.

SOLARCORE is a technology developed by OROS which uses aerogel, an ultralight material derived from a gel, in which the liquid component was replaced with a gas. Trapped air offers aerogel insulating properties. Among other applications, NASA used the material for thermal insulation of the Mars Rover.

The company received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) to adapt their technology to long-range flight suits. Missions can take military pilots to heights between 30,000 and 40,000 feet (9 and 12 kilometers.) At this altitude, air temperature ranges from -40°C to -57°C (-40°F to -70°F), hence the need for properly insulated clothing.

“Everything we do at OROS is about taking the most advanced insulation technology and evolving and tailoring it for application in real-life situations,” says Jeff Nash, CTO and VP of Product at OROS. “Putting our research to use for individuals whose pursuits require them to push their physical limits is essentially why we do what we do, so we’re incredibly enthused about this work with the US Air Force.”

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