- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

WILMINGTON, DEL. (AP) - DuPont said Tuesday it has developed a variation on its popular Nomex line of products that will inflate at high temperatures, an innovation its creators say will provide even greater protection against heat.

Already popular among firefighters, Nomex _ which is naturally heat resistant _ has been re-engineered by DuPont to expand about a quarter of an inch when temperatures exceed 250 Fahrenheit.

The new product, which also does not melt, drip or support combustion in air, has applications beyond firefighting. DuPont hopes to market it for auto racing, oil and gas operations, and military excursions.

“We believe there’s a giant need in the U.S. to get better-performing products for those who protect us,” said Mark Vergnano, who oversees DuPont’s safety and protection business.

The new product, called Nomex On Demand, likely will cost about 10 percent more than other thermal liners, and would increase the overall cost of a firefighter suit by 2 percent, a spokeswoman said.

It’s more flexible than traditional Nomex and adds no extra weight, DuPont said.

The company is hoping the recently passed federal stimulus program will boost sales of firefighting suits, which would cause an indirect interest in Nomex. The material is already used in a vast number of fire protection gear.

“We see a big opportunity, and we’re hopeful the government sees a big opportunity to fund firefighters to make sure they have what they need,” Vergnano said.

The announcement comes the day after DuPont said it has expanded Nomex production at a Spanish production facility.

Shares of DuPont rose 7 cents to $20.33 Tuesday morning. The stock has traded between $16.05 and $52.49 in the past 52 weeks.

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