Thermal Solutions for Armored and UAV Military Vehicles
Thousands of servicemen and women rely on armored military vehicles to carry out their missions effectively and safely. While these vehicles are designed to protect our military from enemies abroad, they're also engineered to run efficiently and keep our military safe from heat and sound elements. This is our thermal solution that makes our military vehicles better in the field.
Armored vehicles like those used in MRAP (mine-resistant ambush protected) applications are built with ultra-durable materials that protect vehicles from explosives like a blast from an IED. While these vehicles are classified as "light tactical" compared to fully-armored tanks, the materials make them extremely heavy which creates challenges for how these vehicles perform.
Metals, ceramics, plastics, and various types of bulletproof glass are all used in tandem to protect armored vehicles from blasts, but physical protection from outside projectiles is just part of what makes a military vehicle safe in the field.
Heat & Sound Issues
Because armored vehicles are heavy and cumbersome, they need lots of power to function properly. Diesel engines pack the torque these vehicles need to maneuver through any situation, but they run extremely hot and loud. It doesn't matter how protected an armored vehicle is if it can't get out of a dangerous situation, or the engine runs so loud the sound completely drowns out all surroundings. This is where thermal and noise dampening solutions come in.
These are areas around a military vehicle where protection is most important:
- Engine shielding
- Exhaust system
- Turbo covers
- Sound suppression
- Vehicle body panels
Think about exposed components on a normal car. Areas like the exhaust system usually have little to no shielding because it's unnecessary, even on diesel vehicles. Military personnel are often working on a vehicle in the field, while it's idling, and could be at risk of burning themselves if there is no protection between them and the exhaust (diesel runs much, much hotter than regular fuel). Thermal layers around exposed components like exhaust systems are the protective barriers during maintenance.
Desert regions such as Iraq and Afghanistan can be punishing on vehicles during the summer. Engines can overheat and sometimes vehicles must be shut off to let them cool. Unfortunately, this means the A/C is not running inside the cabin which can create unbearable conditions inside. Thermal materials on military vehicles not only protect service members from heat and burns but also keep cool air inside when the engine is shut down. Everything from door panels, to roof and flooring, is insulated to maintain cooler temps as long as possible.
Heat shields, sound barriers, and other types of thermal layering keep engine noise inside the bay (as much as possible) and direct heat properly so that it does not damage or burn other parts of the vehicle. This is a complex process that requires engineering and design based on the vehicle's need. You can't simply wrap an engine bay in extra layers and call it a day—advanced plastics are used to absorb engine noise while staying cool and light while heat shields are strategically placed to direct heat out of the engine bay in the right places to keep it cool. These materials, especially the plastics, are designed to withstand the higher temps put out by diesel engines working overtime to power these heavy vehicles.
The most practical applications of thermal and sound protection will use innovative blends of different materials in layers that make them stronger, lighter, and easier to replace as they need maintenance. Layered thermal materials can use solid, protective materials like metals or plastics on the outside while using light, insulating materials like fabrics on the inside. Layering helps save weight and protect more vulnerable materials like fabrics so that vehicles can get the most from the thermals installed.
The most advanced military armored vehicles are a complex blend of armor protection that keeps our soldiers safe from IED blasts and other physical threats while using thermal and sound protection to keep them running well. Thermal protection itself is a complex process that often requires custom solutions. Thermal Control Products looks at each thermal challenge listed above and takes a custom, innovative approach to keep vehicles cool, protected, and as quiet as possible.