Sunday, August 02, 2009

Applied Technology Update from Battlefield to Space Station

Space has not been the genesis of every innovation in applied technology. In this case, lesson's learned on the battlefields of Nam and Iraq, finally made their way to the space station.

Jeff Owens, the scientist at the US Air Force who developed the technology, said: "During Desert Storm most casualties were from bacterial infections rather than from accidents or friendly fire. We have treated T-shirts and underwear for soldiers who tested them for several weeks and found that they remained hygienic as the clothing was actively killing the bacteria. They also helped clear up some skin complaints in those testing them."

In January 2007 M.E. speculated (Self-Cleaning Underwear Goes Weeks Without Washing) that this high-tech fabric would be tested by a the Air Force's cheerleading team. Excellent update here at, excerpt:

This particular type of self cleaning is achieved by leaving the fabrics in the sun. The titanium dioxide is a photocatalyst - so exposure to UV light causes it to burn organic materials, like food and bacteria.

Curiously, the latest wear test was performed by male astronaut astronaut Koichi Wakata returning to Earth with the underwear used during his 4 1/2-month space station stint. Called J-Wear, Wakata's experimental underwear, were designed in Japan to be odor free.

"I haven't talked about this underwear to my crew members," Wakata said in an interview with The Associated Press, drawing a big laugh from his six shuttle colleagues. "But I wore them for about a month, and my station crew members never complained for about a month, so I think the experiment went fine."

No word yet on use by females, but the J-Wear worn by Wakata is from a full product line, including socks.


On subs I never washed my socks (we wore the thin, black synthetic variety that irritated feet). Once soiled, I would place them in a plastic bag, put on a fresh pair and empty the bag overboard when we surfaced. Storage took advantage of sock thiness, obviously. The pH of jettisoned socks assured rapid digestion by the ocean. This was during Nam...

Jeez, we solved the underwear problem back in the sixtys in Nam.We didn't wear any.Newbys that kept theirs on, soon found themselves with many different skin maladys. With the accompaning odor and such, they soon understood the validity of not wearing any.Feet were the worse. We would lose men weekly from footproblems. Some for good. Some returned.Boots were another problem, early on and I hear even later, the boots would start falling to pieces after just a very few weeks. I myself went through 5 pair of boots. It was very hot and wet over there..far away and long ago. - Papa Ray West Texas, USA

Submarines are always silent and strange.



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