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December 29, 2010
Not Your Father’s Protective Apparel

New DuPont Offering Does More with Less

For more than 4 decades, DuPont™ has been a leader in the science of protection with a range of well-known solutions like Tychem® and Tyvek®. Now the iconic fabric and chemical company has introduced DuPont Tychem ThermoPro, a single-layer protective garment intended to resist chemicals while providing flash fire and electric arc protection as well.

Rodney Taylor, manager for chemical protective apparel in the company’s Protection Technologies division, calls the material a “triple threat” for emergency responders and industrial workers. Although the fabric was first developed a few years ago, it has been reintroduced recently with added electric arc protection in a highly protective coverall. ThermoPro coveralls cover all exposed areas of the body except for the hands and face.

Single Layer, Multiple Benefits

It’s the single layer that makes ThermoPro so valuable, Taylor explains. Many users believe that they can get adequate protection by wearing an off-the-shelf chemical suit over a flame resistant (FR) garment. As a single garment, ThermoPro reduces discomfort and bulkiness for the wearer, which Taylor says is a significant advancement.

The ThermoPro coveralls offer features including taped seams, attached hoods, zipper closure, and elastic wrists and ankles. The material is certified to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards 2112 and 1992.

Taylor says permeation testing was conducted against 182 chemicals. Users can expect at least 30 minutes of protection from exposures typically experienced by hazard material emergency responders and others exposed to toxic chemicals, inorganic acids, and other hazardous substances.

Flash fire testing for ThermoPro and other products is done at DuPont’s Richmond, Virginia, site. At the thermal mannequin test facility, a mannequin embedded with thermal sensors is exposed to fire temperatures over 2,000 degrees F. “The sensors help us make an assessment of what the potential for burn injury would be wearing that garment.”

Taylor says tests with the sensor-studded mannequins revealed “a significantly higher burn injury” potential wearing a chemical garment over an FR garment compared with ThermoPro’s single-layer design. Chemical resistance is tested and certified by a third-party laboratory to be compliant to NFPA standards.

DuPont reports that ThermoPro coveralls are getting positive reviews. Users in the emergency response community note a positive impact on their comfort, dexterity, and ease of movement. DuPont is considering adding additional garments using the ThermoPro material.

History of Protection

DuPont has long been associated with worker protection. One of its most well-known brands is Kevlar®, used widely in bulletproof vests and other gear worn by law enforcement and the military. The material was developed in 1965 by DuPont research scientist Stephanie Kwolek, who spun fiber from liquid crystalline solutions.

The first field trial of body armor made with Kevlar was conducted with police officers in 1975. In 1978, Kevlar was adopted by the U.S. Army for use in flak jackets and helmets and, later, in vests. Kevlar products helped protect military members in the 1991 Gulf War and in 1994 in Somalia and Bosnia.

DuPont credits its Interceptor Body Armor made with Kevlar was with holding down casualties in Afghanistan. A lighter weight version of the product was produced for use by soldiers in Iraq in 2004. In 2006, Officer Cory Grogan was inducted into the Kevlar Survivors’ Club as the 300th “save.”

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