COLLEGE STATION — A textile insulation technology that the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) helped transfer from NASA-sponsored research to consumer products will be inducted into the 2005 Space Technology Hall of Fame on April 7 as part of the 21st National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The technology, Outlast Phase Change Materials, was initially developed to keep astronauts warm in space and has the capability of making textile products thinner, helping people or objects stay warmer longer, or keeping people cooler. Patented by Outlast Technology Inc. of Boulder, Colo., the product can also shield firefighters or other professionals from exposure to periods of high heat.
TEEX operates the Mid-Continent Technology Transfer Center, which is one of six NASA-funded Regional Technology Transfer Centers across the country. TEEX identified the Outlast technology in 1995 and then conducted market assessments and advised the company on a business plan.
The ingredients that make the Outlast technology effective are microencapsulated phase-change materials (microPCMs), which were developed by Triangle Research and Development Corporation of Raleigh, N.C., under Small Business Innovation Research agreements with NASA and the U.S. Air Force. Their original purpose was for use in space gloves. Now, Outlast’s Phase Change Technology is used in performance sportswear, shoes and bedding by a variety of nationally known manufacturers.
The Outlast technology continuously reacts with the body’s temperature to keep it more comfortable. Excess heat generated by the body is absorbed into the Outlast Thermocules, thereby reducing overheating and sweating. This stored heat is then released back into the body as needed to reduce chill.
The Mid-Continent Technology Transfer Center’s role in the successful development and commercialization of Outlast Phase Change Materials will be officially recognized with the presentation of the Space Technology Hall of Fame Organizational Certificate of Commendation.
The National Space Symposium is hosted by the Space Foundation, a national nonprofit organization founded in 1983 that vigorously advances civil, commercial and national security space endeavors and educational excellence. The Space Foundation established the Space Technology Hall of Fame in 1988 in conjunction with NASA. Its purpose is threefold: to honor the innovators who have transformed technology originally developed for space use into commercial products; to increase the public awareness of the benefits of space spinoff technology and to encourage further innovation.
The Hall of Fame awards dinner is expected to attract more than 1,100 senior space leaders and guests. Previous inductees into the Space Technology Hall of Fame include global positioning systems, DirecTV, satellite radio, cordless tools and a host of medical technologies.
TEEX, a member of The Texas A&M University System, offers hands-on, customized training, exercises, technical assistance and technology transfer services impacting Texas and beyond.