Authors: Mengying Zhang, Rui Li, Yulin Wu, Guowen Song

December 3, 2023

Cold environments pose significant risks to human health, well-being, and productivity, with hands being particularly vulnerable to cold stress and injuries. Mathematical models of hand thermoregulation have emerged as valuable tools for understanding and predicting hand performance and injuries, especially in extreme cold environments. While significant progress has been made in mathematical modeling, a systematic review of these models is currently lacking. This paper aims to fill this knowledge gap by conducting a comprehensive review of the existing literature on hand thermoregulation models in cold environments. It begins with an introduction to the unique thermophysical and thermophysiological characteristics of the hand. It then summarizes the historical evolution of hand thermoregulation models. The essential principles for developing hand-specific thermoregulation models are outlined, encompassing modeling of hand anatomy and geometry, thermophysiological responses, and heat transfer between the hand and its surroundings. This review presents prediction methods for cold injuries and hand performance. The need for future advancements in hand thermoregulation modeling is emphasized. Specifically, achieving a more realistic representation of hand anatomy and geometry, as well as incorporating location-dependent thermophysical properties and physiological behaviors of the hand, are identified as crucial areas for improvement to enhance prediction accuracy. This review will contribute to a deeper understanding of hand thermoregulation mechanisms and their interaction with cold environments, as well as the development of more reliable and applicable models.

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What We Are Learning from COVID-19 for Respiratory Protection: Contemporary and Emerging Issues

November 28, 2021

Infectious respiratory diseases such as the current COVID-19 have caused public health crises and interfered with social activity. Given the complexity of these novel infectious diseases, their dynamic nature, along with rapid changes in social and occupational environments, technology, and means of interpersonal interaction, respiratory protective devices (RPDs) play a crucial role in controlling infection, particularly for viruses like SARS-CoV-2 that have a high transmission rate, strong viability, multiple infection routes and mechanisms, and emerging new variants that could reduce the efficacy of existing vaccines. Evidence of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmissions further highlights the importance of a universal adoption of RPDs. RPDs have substantially improved over the past 100 years due to advances in technology, materials, and medical knowledge. However, several issues still need to be addressed such as engineering performance, comfort, testing standards, compliance monitoring, and regulations, especially considering the recent emergence of pathogens with novel transmission characteristics. In this review, we summarize existing knowledge and understanding on respiratory infectious diseases and their protection, discuss the emerging issues that influence the resulting protective and comfort performance of the RPDs, and provide insights in the identified knowledge gaps and future directions with diverse perspectives.


Cone Calorimeter Available to Aid in Iowa Manufacturer Test Standards

July 20, 2021

All building materials must meet a specific test standard in order to move forward with manufacturing. This standard, the ASTM-E84 Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials, is used to determine how various materials act upon ignition. It is a costly, complex, and large-scale standard that has been the norm. However, a new method has been introduced, and it’s shaking up how the E84 test is run.

The cone calorimeter is the most widely used instrument to study fire behavior of materials because it provides abundant information with relatively small sized samples. They are rarely found in the United States, but the Laboratories for Functional Textiles and Protective Clothing (LABS) at Iowa State University have acquired one and are looking for building material, furniture material, and insulation material manufacturers who may be interested in a cone calorimeter’s expedited testing capabilities.

Because of the large scale and complexity of the E84, the cone calorimeter can use less of the same material to inform the possibility of passing. This process will save time, resources, and expenses while trying alternative fire retardants for the best performance before attempting the E84 standard.

“Our lab can conduct tests according to many standards,” says lab manager Dr. Rui Li, “but we aren’t certified to provide a certification to the customer. So, we are best suited to offer pre-standard test assurance and customized test services for research and development purposes.”

For more information about the cone calorimeter and other test capabilities offered by LABS, contact Dr. Rui Li at ruili@iastate.edu or visit the LABS website at https://aeshm.hs.iastate.edu/current-students/facilities/laboratories-for-functional-textiles-and-protective-clothing/

PPE Books Published



Thermal Protective Clothing for Firefighters explores every facet of the construction and use of thermal protective clothing. Everything from the high-performance design to testing methods and the key issues currently being examined by current and future research. 


Improving Comfort in Clothing explores the most important property of clothing demanded by users and consumers according to recent studies: comfort.

This book outlines the foundations of human comfort in clothing, how to improve comfort, and reviews methods of improving comfort while maintaining function.


Firefighter’s Clothing and Equipment provides a complete overview of firefighters’ protective clothing, addresses the performance in terms of protection and comfort, and explores the ways we may improve for the future.