It’s often sad to see the workers at the Fukushima Daiichi Plant or any other radioactive site around the world. It’s a dangerous job that requires brave workers, and brave workers deserve a cool looking uniform. Firefighters get those axes and huge trench coats, police often have cool looking bulletproof vests, but workers in areas of high radiation have to wear those white or yellow suits that look like trash bags.

Thankfully, this sad state of affairs may soon change with the development of a fabric which blocks x-ray and gamma-ray radiation.

This material was created by the Teijin Group, a leading company in aramid fiber technology. Aramid fibers are used in a wide variety of products from ship hulls to Kevlar vests and are highly regarded for their resilience and heat resistance. However, since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the company had set its sights on radiation protection. To accomplish this, Teijin took two of their currently existing materials Technora and Twaron and blended them with tungsten to provide radiation shielding. Tungsten has been well known as an element capable of blocking radiation but until now could not be mixed with fabric due to its density. With Technora, Teijin was able to incorporate tungsten through a highly sophisticated spinning process to create a flexible and elastic yet highly durable fabric which now also stops some types of radiation.

As for Twaron fabric, tungsten is reduced to a pulp shape which allows it to adhere to the fabric. Teijin can also use this “tungsten pulp” for radiation blocking paper as seen below.

Both products may be vast improvements to lead-based materials which are hazardous to humans and the environment. They are also much easier to work with than unwieldy concrete shields. The amount of radiation shielding that these materials provide is dependent on the amount of tungsten used in the blend. The company will start giving out samples to people working in high radiation areas such as medical facilities and northeastern Japan. Let’s just hope that however these materials get used, the final product makes these brave workers look cool… like a ninja or something. These people deserve it.

Source: Teijin via Gigazine (Japanese)
Top Image: Wikipedia