Science

Heat-Proof Face Paint Withstands Bomb Blasts

If you thought your makeup’s UV protection was good, how about face paint that can withstand the intense heat of a bomb blast? US researchers have created a camouflage face paint that may soon be used by soldiers and firemen to shield them from extreme heat.

As well as waves of pressure, exploding bombs emit blasts of heat that can exceed 600C. Such a blast may only last a couple of seconds, but that’s long enough to cook human skin. A soldier’s conventional camouflage make-up only makes matters worse as it contains oil and wax.

The US Department of Defense funded researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi to tackle the problem. The team upgraded camouflage face paint by replacing its carbon base with silicone. Silicone is non-flammable as it absorbs heat outside of the spectrum produced by intense flames.

The new formula not only guarded skin for the two seconds required to withstand a bomb’s heat blast, but protected naked hands and feet for 15 seconds before mild, first-degree burns appeared. This gives soldiers vital time to move away from burning areas.

In the video above, the temperatures of two panels are being measured as they are exposed to a blowtorch. The panel on the left is coated with the new heat-resistant camouflage makeup. As both panels are exposed to flames, the temperature of the painted panel rises far more slowly than the bare one on the right. The material was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia today.

The research team is putting together a colourless version for firemen. They’re also working on a formula that could be used to fireproof clothes and tents.

New Scientist reports, explores and interprets the results of human endeavour set in the context of society and culture, providing comprehensive coverage of science and technology news.

Images: Aaron Amat and Valeev/Shutterstock


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