Academic contribution leads to major industry award

L-R: Mhairi Begg from OGIC, Simon Lamont and Professor David Bucknall

A Dundee start-up has praised the 'exceptional' contribution of Heriot-Watt University after winning a coveted title for its new self-heating offshore survival garment.

The SPE Offshore Achievement Awards (OAA) is the biggest and longest established honour of its kind for the UK offshore energy sector.

At a recent ceremony held in Aberdeen's Exhibition and Conference Centre, the state-of-art clothing capable of saving lives of offshore workers in an emergency situation, won the prestigious Health and Safety Innovation Award.

We are extremely proud to see that what we can do in the lab could very soon have a very direct and real impact on helping to save lives for people who live and work in harsh off-shore environments.

Professor David Bucknall

Named the Centurion 3, the upper body survival wear is the product of Tayside-based company, Iron Ocean who approached the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) in 2016 and chose to work with Heriot-Watt University for its expertise in materials chemistry and textiles in order to develop and create a prototype of Iron Ocean's design.

Following this, Professor David Bucknall from the University's Institute of Chemical Sciences developed a gel, called REACTA GEL AQUA, which allows the three-layer upper body garment to produce heat when in contact with water increasing the chances of survival even in the harshest of conditions.

Helping with its development was a team from the University's School of Textiles and Design who were tasked with identifying suitable fabric for chemical integration to incorporate the REACTA GEL AQUA into one of the layers of the garment 

Along with constructing a slash and fire resistant garment for the outer layer of Centurion 3, the two layers developed by the university along with brand new fabric CARFIBEX designed and developed in house by Iron Ocean complete the Centurion 3 prototype.

Professor David Bucknall, said: “We have greatly enjoyed working at the interface between academia and industry in this collaboration, where we have been able to exploit our expertise to develop new materials that form a critical part of the Centurion 3 prototype. We are extremely proud to see that what we can do in the lab could very soon have a very direct and real impact on helping to save lives for people who live and work in harsh off-shore environments."

The development of the Centurion 3 involved two phases of research co-funded by the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC). Phase one saw the development of the water-triggered heat generating materials, which led to phase two within which the heat-storage material was further developed for use within the prototype Centurion 3 garments.

Simon Lamont, Founder and CEO of Iron Ocean, said: “When I designed the Centurion 3, it was a concept that needed quite a bit of support. Since then, I have been blown away by the quality of work I have received from Heriot-Watt University, the support from both the Oil and Gas Industry and the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre in Aberdeen.

“Working with Heriot-Watt has been a fantastic experience and they have really contributed in a big way to our success. I am truly honoured to have won this award, particularly given the calibre of nominations we were up against.”

Iron Ocean are now exploring new potential markets for the innovative technology including in the leisure, military and maritime sectors.


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