Self-Actuating Technology Could Be Applied To Flood
Aurora Flight Sciences was recently
granted US Patent 7,313,829: Sealing device for bodysuit and
sealing method using hydrogels. The technology protected by this
patent was originally developed for the US Navy to be incorporated
into their Helicopter Aircrew Integrated Life Support System
Naval aviators wear survival suits as part of their flight gear
because most of their flying is done over water. The aviators spend
hours in the cockpits and helicopters during the performance of
their missions. Current survival suits generally use tight latex
seals, which while effective, are extremely uncomfortable, to the
point that some aircrew have elected not to wear their survival
The HAILSS combines the functional aspects of a flight suit with
the life support functions of a survival suit into a single
ensemble that is now worn by flight crews operating over water. The
ensemble is designed to be comfortable to wear during normal
operations, ensuring airflow and preventing heat stress.
Aurora Flight Sciences has designed a system that is activated
on contact with water and functions through the swelling action of
a super absorbent polymer to provide the sealing force around the
neck, wrists, and ankles in both fresh water and salt water.
Aurora's problem solving approach provides a material that is
inherently reliable and does not require anything other than being
submerged to work.
The life saving benefit with hydrogel seals is that the user
could even be unconscious, and the system would still activate. The
device and method can be used with any suitable type of body suit,
including: survival suits, wet suits, dry suits, exposure suits,
and immersion suits.
Though the invention started with a military application, this
sealing device could be used in many applications such as sealing
large, enclosed areas, such as the basement of a house, to prevent
flooding. The invention can also be applied to the sealing of any
shaft in the presence of liquids where either the shapes are
somewhat irregular, or the clearances are not uniform.