Evaluating the Effectiveness of Cooling Vest in a Hot and Humid Environment

Wen Yi, Yijie Zhao, Albert P C Chan
Annals of Work Exposures and Health 2017 May 1, 61 (4): 481-494

Objective: This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a newly designed hybrid cooling vest for construction workers in alleviating heat stress.

Method: Two types of cooling vests, namely, a commonly worn Vest A and a newly designed Vest B, were tested in a climatic chamber environment (34.0°C temperature, 60% relative humidity, and 0.4 m s-1 air velocity) using a sweating thermal manikin. Four test scenarios were included: fan off with no phase change materials (PCMs) (Fan-off), fan on with no PCMs (Fan-on), fan off with completely solidified PCMs (PCM + Fan-off), and fan on with completely solidified PCMs (PCM + Fan-on).

Result: Test results showed that Vests A and B provided a continuous cooling effect during the 3-h test. The average cooling power for the torso region of Vest B was 67 W, which was higher than that of Vest A (56 W). The addition of PCMs offered a cooling effect of approximately 60 min. Ventilation fans considerably improved the evaporative heat loss compared with the Fan-off condition.

Conclusion: The newly designed hybrid cooling vest (Vest B) may be an effective means to reduce heat strain and enhance work performance in a hot and humid environment.

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