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U Buffalo partners with local companies to introduce wearable cooling technology

By David Schwartz
Published: September 15th, 2020

A University at Buffalo engineering professor has linked with two Buffalo companies to create technology that can enhance physical and mental endurance by helping prevent overheating among endurance athletes, occupational workers, and people with chronic illnesses.

Shenqiang Ren, PhD, in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has worked for the past year with Coolnomics LLC and QSG Technologies to develop CoolPak Hydrogel for advanced personal cooling solutions.

While other cooling technologies have been around for many years, including gel, ice, evaporative and other phase change technologies, those products “are dependent on circulating air and a lack of humidity, so [they] are impractical and ineffective in most environments,” asserts Coolnomics co-founder Luanne DiBernardo.

Ren has led the development of a more advanced material that can provide high-impact cooling while remaining flexible even when frozen, enabling a more effective and comfortable cooling experience. “The previous cooling materials have been rigid and tough, which makes them unforgiving for athletes, occupational workers, soldiers and so much more,” said Ren. “Our material is ductile, flexible and lightweight. This is accomplished by locking the water into the polymer chain network.”

The new technology will be incorporated into wearables designed to enhance physical and mental endurance. The idea is to prevent heat injuries among populations commonly challenged when exertional heat meets environmental heat. In addition to the industries mentioned above, other sectors affected by extreme heat include the oil, gas, airline and nuclear industries.

CoolPak Hydrogel products will be manufactured in Buffalo. The work is supported by a grant from FuzeHub, a nonprofit organization that assists small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies in New York State.

“The collaboration between Coolnomics, QSG Technologies, and Dr. Ren’s team at the University at Buffalo is a great example of the types of manufacturing grant projects that have helped build the Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund portfolio,” said Julianne Clouthier, director of industry engagement for FuzeHub. “The Innovation Fund provides direct assistance to the manufacturing, research and development, technology and entrepreneurial ecosystems and encourages collaboration between not-for-profit organizations in New York State and companies that work within the manufacturing industry.”

Ren also credit the UB tech transfer office at “tremendously helpful to facilitate this partnership.”

Source: UB News Center

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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