Climatic Chambers

TNO in Soesterberg is conducting experimental research in two unique, up-to-date, well equipped climatic chambers. They enable experiments and evaluation tests looking into the performance of professionals who have physically challenging jobs, work under severe operating conditions or have to wear heavy clothing and equipment whilst working. The results of our tests will help measures to be taken that improve their deployability.

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From clothing to work-rest schedules

The climatic chambers are equipped for empirical studies on trial subjects. In them we examine and evaluate such things as:

  • the heat generated in, comfort and ergonomics of clothing and equipment: these can be existing products – e.g. if a customer wishes to purchase a particular piece of clothing or equipment – or products still under development
  • the effects of extreme climate conditions on physical performance, e.g. prolonged exertion in the heat, or the risks of hypothermia when working in the cold
  • the interaction between physical performance and cognitive tasks such as decision-making, information processing and awareness of surroundings
  • suitable work-rest schedules for physical exertion under extreme conditions or loads

Maximizing the approximation of reality

The climatic chambers are designed to be able to simulate all the appropriate climates on earth, ranging from -30°C to +60°C with relative humidity of 10% to 90%. They also have wind generators, artificial suns and infrared radiation sources. This makes the TNO climate chambers unique in the Netherlands.

We use fitness equipment, mock-ups (life-size models of designs or products), virtual reality and project-specific setups to create a test environment in the climate chambers for each experiment that provides the maximum approximation of reality. Modern monitoring equipment, well-designed questionnaires, statistical analyses and specially developed computer models make it possible to efficiently conduct scientific analyses and tests as well as answer questions.

Trend-setting results

The research in the climatic chambers has made a substantial contribution to the development of the new military kit now being procured by the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. It helps to optimize working in protective clothing, for both the armed services and other first response organizations (national and international). Optimizing exertion and rest for top-level sportsmen and women is another possibility.

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