Innovation, keeping things cool

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Devlin Bishop
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

The 355th Innovation Office, known as Lightning Spark, held a proof-of-concept presentation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Dec. 7, 2022.

The main focus of the presentation was testing a cooling vest prototype designed to keep Airmen cool while working in high temperatures for extended periods of time.

“Right now, we're focusing on just the flight line maintainers,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Conrad Nelson, 357th Fighter Generation Squadron lead production superintendent. “The main focus is on their health and safety while working in hot environments and to prevent heat exhaustion.”

The cooling vest uses dry ice to cool alcohol within a closed-circuit pump system, which is then pumped through the interior of the vest to cool down the wearer’s core.

“It's going to let the Airman be more comfortable, and therefore, more productive,” said Mark Weitz, Vice President of Strategic Development at Kenon Products. “By making the Airmen more comfortable doing their jobs, it could have a positive effect on morale as well.

Lightning Spark is always working to come up with new and innovative ways of solving problems for the Airmen of the 355th Wing and DM.

“I'm really stoked to see these innovation cells happening at bases around the nation and being able to work with them is just fantastic,” said Weitz. “I look forward to working with them and seeing what they come up with so we can work together to help build better products for our warfighters.”

Kenon and Lightning Spark expect to roll out the first iteration of cooling vests for the Air Force before summer 2023.