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Assessment of thermal performance of protective garments: The advanced numerical model

Piotr Lapka (Department of Thermodynamics, Warsaw University of Technology , Warsaw, Poland)
Piotr Furmanski (Department of Thermodynamics, Warsaw University of Technology , Warsaw, Poland)
Tomasz Wisniewski (Department of Thermodynamics, Warsaw University of Technology , Warsaw, Poland)

International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat & Fluid Flow

ISSN: 0961-5539

Article publication date: 2 May 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to present the advanced mathematical and numerical models of conjugated heat and mass transfer in a multi-layer protective clothing, human skin and muscle subjected to incident external radiative heat flux.

Design/methodology/approach

The garment was made of three layers of porous fabric separated by the air gaps, whereas in the tissue, four skin sublayers and muscle layer were distinguished. The mathematical model accounted for the coupled heat transfer by conduction and thermal radiation with the associated phase transition of the bound water in the fabric fibres and diffusion of the water vapour in the clothing layers and air gaps. The skin and muscle were modelled with two equation model which accounted for heat transfer in the tissue and arterial blood. Complex thermal and mass transfer conditions at the internal or external boundaries between the fabric layers, air gaps and skin were assumed. Special attention was paid to modelling of thermal radiation emitted by external heat source, for example, a fire, penetrating through the protective clothing and being absorbed by the skin and muscle.

Findings

Temporal and spatial variations of temperature in the protective garment, skin and muscle, as well as volume fractions of the water vapour and bound water in the clothing, were calculated for various intensity of incident radiative heat flux. The results of numerical simulation were used to estimate the risk of the first-, second- and third-degree burns.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the small thickness of the considered system in comparison to its lateral dimensions, the presented model was limited to 1D heat and moisture transfer. The convective heat transfer through the clothing was neglected.

Practical implications

The model may be applied for design of the new protective clothing and for assessment of thermal performance of the various types of protective garments. Additionally, the proposed approach may be used in the medicine for estimation of degree of thermal destruction of the tissue during treatment of burns.

Originality/value

The novel advanced thermal model of the multi-layer protective garment, skin and muscle layer was developed. For the first time, non-grey optical properties and various optical phenomena at the internal or external boundaries between the fabric layers, air gaps and skin were accounted for during simulation of thermal interactions between the external heat source (e.g. a fire), protective clothing and human skin.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Centre for Research and Development (Poland) under Grant No. O ROB/0011/03/001.

Citation

Lapka, P., Furmanski, P. and Wisniewski, T. (2017), "Assessment of thermal performance of protective garments: The advanced numerical model", International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat & Fluid Flow, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 1078-1097. https://doi.org/10.1108/HFF-03-2016-0101

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited