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Gadget-charging uniforms and shock-absorbing gel: New tech for UK troops

Photos: The projects on their way to the 21st century battlefield

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1 of 4 Nick Heath/ZDNet

Photos: The projects on their way to the 21st century battlefield

Combat fatigues able to power electronic gadgets and gel capable of absorbing shocks from bullets are among the cutting-edge military technologies being developed in the UK.

The two technologies are among a range of inventions that are currently being developed to help Britain's armed forces, shown off at an event last week to promote tech supported by the MoD research funding body, the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE).

The projects supported by the CDE are aimed at fulfilling the MoD's Defence Technology Plan, whose priorities include lightening a soldier's load, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, developing new vehicles and aircraft and building a cyberwarfare capability.

The CDE has awarded £8m-worth of research contracts to date including funding for a project by Intelligent Textiles, shown here.

The company is aiming to develop a fabric which can conduct and store electricity, and is designed to be used in combat fatigues.

The idea is that fatigues made of the conductive material would be able to power weapons, radios or charge batteries for electronic equipment.

The project is aimed at reducing the number of batteries that soldiers have to take with them, reducing the weight of the equipment they carry.

By being able to conduct electricity, the fabric could also be used as a computer keyboard, as seen here.

Photo credit: Ministry of Defence

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2 of 4 Nick Heath/ZDNet

Southampton University has designed a new hybrid power supply and metal-air oxide flow battery aimed at using less fuel to power support bases for frontline troops.

The university was awarded £100,000 by the CDE to develop an engine and generator that captures exhaust gases from diesel engines and uses their heat to generate power.

Photo credit: Ministry of Defence

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3 of 4 Nick Heath/ZDNet

The CDE-supported Powerwheel, shown here, is fitted to a wheelchair and can measure speed, grip and motion so that doctors can monitor how quickly soldiers are recovering from injuries.

The company behind it, the Frazer-Nash Consultancy, is also developing a cycling device to help lower-leg amputees use cycling machines and maintain their fitness.

Photo credit: Ministry of Defence

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4 of 4 Nick Heath/ZDNet

Another project to receive CDE backing is the D30 Shock Absorber, shown here - a gel-like substance that turns to a solid upon sudden impact.

The product will likely be used in helmets, knee pads and elbow pads where it will help reduce the amount of damage that shrapnel and bullets can do to body armour.

Photo credit: Ministry of Defence

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