Modeling and Analyzing for Thermal Protection of Firefighters' Glove by Phase Change Material


Susan S. Xu*, Jonisha Pollard and Weihuan Zhao

Firefighter injures caused by burns and thermal stress occupies around 5%-10% of the total injuries annually. Glove is the thinnest/weakest components among the firefighter turnout gear, which can put firefighters, are at risk of severe wrist and hand burns during fire calls. Burns can occur quickly and enhancing the thermal protective performance of firefighters’ gloves will prevent these burns. One-dimensional (1D) heat transfer modeling and simulations were performed through the COMSOL Multiphysics software to investigate the improvement of thermal protective performance when integrating a Phase Change Material (PCM) layer into a conventional structural firefighting glove. Parametric studies were conducted to explore the effects of PCM thermal properties, layer thickness, and location in glove structure on hand protection. It was found that a PCM with a higher density, specific heat, and latent heat of fusion had a larger heat capacity and thermal inertia, resulting in better thermal protective performance. The optimum melting point of PCM was found to be in the range of 80°C–140°C. A PCM layer with a thickness of 0.5 mm–1.0 mm showed sufficient thermal protection. The location of the PCM layer should be close to the inner glove surface for high-heat situations. Overall, modeling suggests that the addition of a PCM layer could significantly enhance the thermal protective performance of firefighters’ gloves, with results showing increased time (2–4 times as long) for skin to reach second-degree burn temperature when compared to the conventional glove without PCM.