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US scientists have developed a camouflage skin paint said to withstand intense heat. Funded by the US Department of Defense, it could protect soldiers' faces during explosions, and help firefighters. It is said to resist temperatures up to 600C - as hot as a burning cigarette - for up to 15 seconds. Heatwaves from a bomb blast lasted two seconds and could cook skin, the team from the University of Southern Mississippi said. The researchers presented the material at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.
Heat-resistant paint for equipment with high operating temperatures, such as boilers, fans and ovens, has existed for some time, but the new substance is also waterproof, non-irritating, easy to apply - and it repels insects.
All military camouflage paint in the US has to contain an insect repellent called Deet, which is extremely flammable. To ensure it does not catch fire, the scientists mixed it with a water-rich hydrogel substance.
Laboratory experiments showed that the new makeup could protect skin for as long as 15 seconds before its temperature rose high enough to produce mild first-degree burns. In some tests, the paint provided protection as long as 60 seconds, Lochhead said, which could give soldiers time to escape from a blast zone.