New face paint for soldiers offers burn protection from bombs

A new face paint revealed at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society not only offers soldiers traditional camouflage, but also protects them from the scalding temperatures of bombs.

"The detonation of a roadside bomb or any other powerful explosive produces two dangerous blasts," Robert Lochhead, who revealed the product at the expo, said. "First comes a blast wave of high pressure that spreads out at supersonic speeds and can cause devastating internal injuries. A thermal blast follows almost instantaneously. It is a wave of heat that exceeds 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit."

These types of blasts have claimed the lives U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of Defense sought a substance that could be applied to protect a soldier's skin from the heat expelled by bombs. Lochhead, Dr. Paige Buchanan, Kelli Booth, Michelle McClusky and Laura Anderson were able to create such a substance.

Lochhead's team was surprised by their substance's ability to withstand heat. The face paint can protect the skin for up to 15 seconds before the paint will rise to a temperature that may cause a mild first-degree burn. Some tests showed the paint could withstand heat for up to one minute, which may mean the face paint can be used by firefighters as well.

The face paint has passed all of its initial tests and can be created in day and night camouflage colors. Lochhead plans to create a clear paint for firefighters and translate the technology for the use of protecting clothing, tents and other items from burning during blasts.