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Patent: Clothing That Cools In The Heat

Texas Business Patent Of The Day: How many times when you were out in the worst drought in Texas history you wished to be cooler?   Now you can wear your air conditioning, thanks to a Boerne resident.

Leslie Owen Paull of Boerne received U.S. Patent 8,015,618 for “Evaporative Cooling Clothing System For Reducing Body Temperature Of A Wearer Of The Clothing System.”   

Paull filed for the patent on August 6, 2008.

Paull’s invention is in the field of clothing designed to reduce the body temperature of a wearer of the clothing, and in particular to reduce the wearer's body temperature through evaporative cooling. 

Clothing is traditionally used to protect a wearer's body from the surrounding environment, particularly adverse weather, strong sunlight, extreme heat or cold, precipitation, or wind, Paull states in the patent documents.  Clothing is also worn for safety, comfort, modesty, and to reflect religious, cultural, and social values of an individual.

Often, clothing is adapted for specialized purposes in which a person wearing the clothing is engaged. Examples of clothing adapted for specialized purposes include a swimsuit, motorcycle leathers, high-visibility clothing, protective clothing, and so on. 

One particularly important type of clothing is clothing designed to aid the body's own cooling mechanism. Under certain conditions, a person's body temperature is elevated to a level that is higher than normal. The rise in body temperature may occur because the person is playing sports, exercising, exposed to the sun, or variety of other reasons.

To counteract the rise in a person's body temperature, the body begins to perspire, producing sweat to transport excess thermal energy from inside the body to the surface of the skin for evaporation. The sweat's evaporation in turn cools the body.

Clothing designed to aid the body's natural cooling process wicks sweat away from the skin for distribution throughout the clothing, and eventually evaporation from the clothing's outer surface.

Wicking the sweat away from the skin has the effect of cooling the body because the wicking process removes the thermal energy in the sweat from the body. Clothing designed to aid the body's cooling process in this manner comes in variety of forms and is often designated as active wear, sportswear, stay dry clothing, and the like. 

The drawback to the clothing described above is that it relies completely on the sweat produced by a person's own body to facilitate any temperature reduction.

Often, however, the body's ability to expel thermal energy through the perspiration process alone is insufficient to reduce the body's temperature to a level that allows a person to achieve maximum endurance during an particular temperature elevating activity.

Accordingly, a person must stop or temporarily suspend the activity sooner rather than later to provide the body with sufficient time to cool. For a cyclist, for example, this drawback translates into fewer miles of bike riding. For a road construction worker exposed to the sun, this drawback may translate into less productivity and increased risk of sun stroke. 

Paull’s invention discloses an evaporative cooling clothing system for reducing body temperature of a wearer of the clothing system. The clothing system includes a clothing article configured using a wicking fabric and a hollow transport defining a cavity for transporting a liquid from a liquid reservoir to an upper region of the clothing article. The hollow transport has an intake section and a dispensing section. The intake section is attached to the liquid reservoir for receiving the liquid, and the dispensing section is attached to the upper region of the clothing article. The upper region of the clothing article receives the liquid from the dispensing section and transfers the liquid to a lower region of the clothing article. The lower region of the clothing article exposes the liquid to an environment surrounding the clothing article for evaporation. 

In some embodiments, the clothing article may be implemented as a garment for covering an upper torso of the wearer. The upper region of such a garment may have a neck region and a shoulder region. Accordingly, the dispensing section may be configured along the neck region and the shoulder region to attach to the clothing article's upper region. In still other embodiments, the upper region of the clothing article may include a spinal region extending along the center rear portion of the garment. In these other embodiments, the dispensing section may be configured along the neck region, the shoulder region, and the spinal region. 

In some embodiments, the dispensing section may include a plurality of orifices through which the dispensing section transfers the liquid from the cavity to the upper region of the clothing article. The dispensing section may be attached to the upper region of the clothing article. The dispensing section may be attached to the upper region of the clothing article by insertion into a sheath attached to the upper region of the clothing article. In some embodiments, the dispensing section may be wrapped in a fabric to distribute the liquid around the outer surface of the dispensing section to facilitate the transfer of the liquid to the upper region of the clothing article. 

To regulate the rate at which the liquid is received by the hollow transport, a clothing system according to some embodiments of the present invention may also include a valve attached to the intake section. The liquid may be stored under pressure in the liquid reservoir to facilitate the flow of the liquid through the hollow transport, which may be tubular, trapezoidal, square, elliptical, or a variety of other shapes. In additional embodiments, the wicking fabric may include an ultraviolet light absorber to protect the wearer's body from the sun's harmful radiation.