Design

Working with us

Investigating human temperature regulation & thermal perception

  • Developing and implementing knowledge on human temperature regulation and thermal perception for improved products and safety guidelines

Overview

Research into the effects and stress of extreme temperatures on people has been a key investigation for the Environmental Ergonomics team. The research has changed policy and practices together with design and performance to improve the safety and endurance of individuals in different temperature environments.

Research & Impact

Long term collaborations with sports clothing companies and the Ministry of Defence has led to a significant body of research into how body heat is transferred through sports and protective clothing. Body mapping has played a key part in this research. Body mapping highlights the physiological responses in different parts of the body (for men and women), depicting the distribution of sweat production, skin temperature, temperature and wetness sensitivity.

Research investigating cold and warmth sensitivity distribution and wetness perception, and its interaction with textiles and clothing has resulted in design guidelines for manufacturers creating sports clothing for recreational and performance athletes across various summer and winter sports; influencing temperature relevant fabric, ventilation and comfort design features. The research has led to improved athlete performance and new start-up companies producing commercialised products to market. The research has also highlighted differences in sensitivity and wetness perception in people with different conditions including Multiple Sclerosis and spinal cord injuries as well as children and the elderly and has led to the design of clothing for different groups such as age-specific running gear.

Other investigations in performance and climate have looked at the growing impact of heat related to climate change and its effect on loss of productivity. This research has led to enforcing new safety standards as well as the development of warning systems. The heat illness expertise developed in the research has also been used in court testimony on heat related Army and civilian deaths, and has changed policy on the way heat illness risk is assessed in the military.

The body maps have also been applied to develop computer models of human thermoregulation to assess extreme conditions for building and vehicle climate systems.  The thermoregulation models have advanced dramatically and can now predict local and whole body thermo-physiological responses in different environments. The information is used in computer models for the simulation of heat exchange, heat strain and comfort in work and sport, outdoors, in vehicles and buildings.

Impact

  • Developing and expanding Body Mapping practices 
  • Sports clothing design guidelines – improving competitive designs 
  • Start-up companies producing commercialised products 
  • Analysing heat illness deaths – supporting evidence in court and changing policy 
  • Health and safety improvements for workers exposed to heat stress