Army researchers have been developing a wool-blend that’s flame-resistant, breathable, and moisture-wicking, Army Times reported.
The patent-approved fabric, intended to improve combat uniforms, doesn’t require topical flame-guard. The secret is a unique synthesis of wool and Nomex, Carole Winterhalter, a textile technologist at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, explained to the news source.
Unlike synthetic fibers, wool doesn’t melt or drip when exposed to fire. The material may have fallen out of fashion in recent years, but researchers say they’re working with extra-fine, non-itchy fleece from Rambouillet sheep. These flexible fibers also improve moisture management and have been treated for shrink-resistance.
Last August, soldiers tested a hundred flame-resistant uniforms during a training in Germany. Even in the summer heat, participants responded favorably to their new clothes.
The enhanced uniforms underwent standard burn-testing at the Thermal Test Facility in Natick, Massachusetts. Winterhalter expects further improvements after feedback has been collected and analyzed. At that point, researchers will pursue a broader field evaluation.
Winterhalter says the wool also meets guidelines of the Berry Amendment, which discourages the Defense Department from sourcing textiles produced outside the United States.
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