A U.S. Department of Defense agency responsible for developing technologies for the military is proposing a program to militate against cold-weather effects suffered by soldiers in freezing environments.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced on Monday the Ice Control for cold Environments (ICE) program.
“The best performing molecules identified during the discovery phase will subsequently be formulated to develop novel materials with enhanced operational performance, tailored to mitigate extreme cold weather challenges for specific DoD applications, and tested based on stakeholder needs and priorities,” the description of the program asserted.
The program is “soliciting innovative research proposals to investigate the physical properties of ice crystals for the development of new solutions to protect warfighters and infrastructure and enhance operational capabilities in extreme cold weather (ECW) environments,” the PDF of the announcement stated.
“The best performing molecules identified during the discovery phase will subsequently be formulated to develop novel materials with enhanced operational performance, tailored to mitigate extreme cold weather challenges for specific DoD applications, and tested based on stakeholder needs and priorities,” the announcement asserted.
The announcement cited “the warming of the arctic” permitting “access to new trade routes,” adding that such access “necessitated an expanded operational area where the U.S. military must counter peer adversaries seeking to exploit emerging theaters in ECW areas.”
“Significant physiological and material barriers exist to establishing and maintaining a force capable of sustained operations in ice-prone environments,” the announcement acknowledged. “Many of these challenges are a consequence of the physical properties of ice such as ice crystal formation, recrystallization, and propagation, as well as the impact these phenomena have on the surrounding operational environment and force readiness.”
The announcement pointed out the manifold uses of such a panacea: “Ice control capabilities could include, but are not limited to, the prevention of frostbite injuries, reduction of ice accretion on vehicles, vessels, and aircraft, decreased damage to infrastructure, maintaining aqueous solutions (potable water, medicines), solving transportation and logistics challenges (ice bridges, roads, runways), and enabling field operations.”
Some of the technological advances in other fields that the program hopes to take advantage of include “ice-binding proteins, pigments capable of absorption of defined wavelengths of light and radiative heat transfer to selectively melt snow versus ice, cryoprotective polysaccharides (bacteria, algae, insects, and plants); and small molecule cryoprotectants and eutectic mixtures (animals, insects, and plants).”
The first phase of the program is expected to last 18 months, the second phase 12 months.