Aircrew Personal Environmental Control System (APECS)
|Pilot Mark Stucky wearing liquid vest (left) and liquid vest with aircraft hookups (right). (NASA photos)
The Aircrew Personal Environmental Control System (APECS) is a Liquid Cooling Garment which utilizes a fluid composed of 70% water, 30% Denatured Alcohol and a trace amount of lubricate/corrosion inhibitor for the tubing and the pump.
The garment is used to keep pilots relatively cool while waiting for extended periods on the ground during hot weather and in flight. Installed in F-16XL-1, NASA pilots Mark Stucky and Dana Purifoy have flown the garment with positive comments.
Initially conceived for use by aircrew flying with NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare) Gear, heat stress problems quickly arose because of the bulky clothing.
Using cooling air from the aircraft environmental system (ECS) flowing across heat exchangers, the fluid passes through tough nylon tubing which is sewn onto a long-sleeved cotton shirt zippered in the front for easy access.
|Cooling garment connected to aircraft environmental system. (NASA photo)
As cooled fluid flows through the garment, it removes excess heat from the pilot and carries it to the heat exchangers where the cold air from the aircraft ECS system cools the warmed fluid down to approximately 60-80 degrees providing additional cooling for aircrews.
The temperature of the fluid is controlled by the aircraft ECS system which is set by the pilot. Developed by Foster-Miller, in Waltham MA, for a solicitation from Brooks AFB and the Human Systems Center, NASA-Dryden volunteered to provide the aircraft on a "no impact" basis to provide the Human Systems Center and Foster-Miller with flight data from actual use.
Since then, there has been interest to include the system into Dryden's F-15B and possibly two additional F-18's to help Dryden aircrews during the summer months, and to provide more data for the Air Force.
Dryden maintenance technicians from Life Support and the F-16XL crew made a number of revisions to the blueprints supplied, to take the idea from a laboratory into a working aircraft, and quickly earned the admiration and respect of both Brooks AFB and Foster-Miller for the quick 'can-do' installation and revisions which have thus far proved highly successful in proving the concept of liquid cooling.
Liquid Vest X-Press article
Cooling Suit Press Release