Body armor with bio-based Dyneema® proven to sustain both people and planet

A LinkedIn article previously published by Dirk Louwers, Global Marketing Manager, Personal Protection.

As sustainability increasingly becomes a key area of emphasis across the world’s largest industries, governmental agencies are looking at implementing environmental policies with stricter regulations around CO2 emissions, waste prevention and recycling. The personal protection market – made up of those in the law enforcement, military, and private defense sectors – is impacted by such regulations, as public funds are used to acquire ballistic protective body armor such as soft armor vests, hard armor plates and helmets.

This trend is leading material and body armor manufacturers to evaluate the environmental impact of raw materials, processing techniques and product usage throughout the value chain – allowing for new and sustainable innovations, as well as distinct differentiators between suppliers.  

One standard of evaluation is the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), an internationally accepted methodology for comparing different solutions for the same functional unit to assess the environmental impact across a product’s life cycle. Using LCA methodology, results showed soft armor vests made with bio-based Dyneema® fiber have a carbon footprint that was a factor three to five times lower than competing alternatives, such as aramid-based solutions and generic HMPE. This analysis was centered on the CO2 equivalence per 1,000 vests designed for Standard NIJ01.01.06 Level IIIA performance.

Even beyond the carbon footprint reduction, Dyneema® goes further than all other ballistic materials in reducing the long-term effects of body armor to both users and the planet in three distinct ways.

First, the performance characteristics of Dyneema® enable high-strength, lightweight ballistic solutions that increase personal protection. By implementing Dyneema®, body armor manufacturers are able to use less material in the development of their ballistic vests, plates and helmets. This leads to weight savings upwards of 30 percent when compared to competitive materials, without impacting ballistic performance. Scientific studies have shown the lifetime of Dyneema® in personal and vehicle armor applications exceeds 10 years; meaning there is no degradation of performance over time and less end-use articles are needed.   

Lightweight construction also helps mitigate injuries associated with the cumulative effects of daily armor use – which can often last for years after service is complete. During duty, the impact of weight reduction can be signified by less stress on the wearer and improved situational awareness, leading to improved response times, as well as cognitive and tactical performance.

Second, through responsible manufacturing, DSM’s unidirectional (UD) manufacturing facilities in Greenville, North Carolina and Heerlen, The Netherlands are using 100 percent renewable electricity. DSM’s global manufacturing footprint enables shorter supply chains and proximity to key markets, increasing security of supply and reducing carbon emissions during the transport of materials.

In addition, DSM introduced the world’s first-ever bio-based HMPE fiber – by sourcing raw materials from renewable, bio-based feedstock through the mass balance approach, we are able to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuel-based resources. Bio-based Dyneema® boasts the same exact performance characteristics as conventional Dyneema® - meaning there’s no compromise between protection and sustainability – and will be offered for all new products within DSM’s personal protection portfolio.

And, finally, end-of-life solutions are being developed together with our body armor manufacturing partners. With the introduction of the CirculariTeam®, DSM created an industry coalition to address the recycling and repurposing of end-of-use products made with Dyneema®. By working directly with industry frontrunners, DSM is actively evaluating multiple technology options to close the loop on circularity.  

As the approach towards a more sustainable future continues to drive meaningful changes across industries, I encourage those in the personal protection market to investigate and identify the environmental impact of their ballistic armor solutions. By including requirements related to sustainability and rewarding lower emission raw materials in acquisition programs for protective armor, together, we can help protect both people and planet.   

Are you interested in learning more about DSM’s sustainability initiatives? If so, please contact me directly.

Dirk Louwers
Global Marketing Manager
DSM
Dirk.Louwers@DSM.com

Share

Related Blog Articles