The liquid-cooled garment was developed to protect the Apollo astronauts from the high temperatures on the moon. The garment successfully maintained the astronauts – body temperatures at a comfortable level by utilizing a battery-powered mini-pump to circulate chilled water through a network of tubes in the garment. During the 1970s and 80s, several companies – Life Support Systems Inc., ILC Dover Inc., and Enviro-Med – obtained the technology and since then have been manufacturing and marketing cooling garments for commercial and medical uses.
This technology is now found in garments being used by race car drivers, fire department hazardous materials handlers, personnel working at nuclear reactors, lumber and paper mill workers, shipyard workers, and military personnel on duty in desert environments. These garments have been shown effective in eliminating 40 to 60 percent of stored body heat and so reduce the heat stress that might otherwise be experienced in these settings. Children born with Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia (lack of sweat glands) can use the garment to help them dissipate body heat during normal activities that might otherwise raise their body temperatures and cause heat stroke. Other conditions and diseases which can make a person prone to overheating -including multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, severe burns, and some forms of cancer – can also be helped by these cool suits. They have enabled many people to participate in sports and other strenuous activities from which they were previously barred.