Innovative cooling system aims to revolutionize comfort for military personnel

  • Published
  • By Giancarlo Casem
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

VIDEO | 02:50 | Innovative cooling system aims to revolutionize comfort for military personnel
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Captain Justin O'Brien, the patent holder and inventor of the Acclimate Cooling System, shared insights into the inspiration and development process behind the groundbreaking technology.

"The inspiration for that cooling system started when I was a security forces member, witnessing myself and my team enduring the thermal burden of body armor on a day-to-day basis," O'Brien explained. "Seeing this, I wanted to find a solution."

Now a section chief in the Experimental Demonstration Branch, Air Force Research Laboratory, at Edwards Air Force Base, California, O’Brien describes the initial steps he took, "I initially made mock-ups myself, gathered a small team together to bounce ideas off each other. And once we finally had a product that was ready for submission, we submitted it for the 2020 Spark Tank."

Reflecting on the competition, O'Brien remarked, "Now we didn't win; we were a runner-up, but even then, we still received a lot of support from the Spark Tank competition to still improve the idea," he said. "We turned to 711th Human Performance Wing to further refine it. And the Tesseract team brought it to where it is now. With Air Force's Tesseract team, we were able to realize this idea, turning this conceptual idea into reality."

The Air Force’s Tesseract initiative aims to accelerate combat-focused logistics innovation by empowering Airmen such as O’Brien and connecting them to a network of ideas and resources in order to improve the agile combat support and mission generation capabilities of the Air Force.

Elaborating on the concept of the Acclimate Cooling System, O'Brien explained, "The concept of the Acclimate is to integrate a water bladder and circulate that water through a cooling pad on the user's back." He likened its function to "a giant radiator like an elephant's ear, sucking up body heat away from the user and bringing it to the outside environment."

"The great thing about the Acclimate system is it can be applied in a lot of different ways to a lot of different people," O'Brien emphasized. "Right now, it's designed for the person that wears body armor on a day-to-day basis. However, the embodiments are being developed where it can be integrated to the DoD soon to be integrated maybe onto a dog or maintainer."

In concluding remarks, O'Brien highlighted the inclusive nature of innovation, stating, "Innovation doesn't discriminate when it comes from a STEM background. I'm not formally educated as an engineer. My experience is what drove this idea, and everybody has their own experiences and can start the innovation process at their level."

He underscored the importance of collaboration, noting, "You will need people with technical backgrounds to help bring your idea to fruition, but that's why the Air Force has built an entire team to help you do that."