A respite on the way for the Indian Army soldiers manning their posts at dizzying heights of Siachen glacier, fighting not only the enemy but also the freezing subzero weather. A self-sustaining and energy efficient shelter for use in extreme cold conditions has been developed by DRDO.
What’s special about this shelter is that it utilizes non-conventional power generation sources like solar and wind for electricity and heating of the shelter. This results in saving on large quantities of kerosene oil which is a scarce resource at those heights.
One prototype shelter has been installed at the base camp (11000 ft) of Siachen Glacier along with the solar panels and vertical axis wind
turbine. It was found that comfortable temperature is maintained inside the hut even when the outside temperature is sub-zero.
The 4×3 shelter can be used as a dwelling unit for two persons. The shelter is constructed with prefabricated insulated panels.The shelter traps solar heat through transparent, double walled polycarbonate sheets on the roof. Power is generated using solar panels
fitted below the transparent sheets.
The heat generated in the day time is retained up to late evening due to the insulated material used in the construction of the shelters. The polycarbonate sheet has been fitted at a steep angle to prevent snow accumulation which might obstruct heat and light in inclement weather.
Additional power is generated from a 1 kW vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) that provides power backup at night as well as during low sunny days. Vertical axis wind turbines have advantage of low detect ability, ease of installation and the ability to utilize omni-directional surface winds. Since the main end user is the military these are important considerations.
The power generated by wind turbine is stored in 4 heavy-duty batteries. The output of these batteries can be used to charge smaller batteries used in electrically heated garments (gloves, socks, jackets, etc.) that the soldiers will be provided on field duties in inclement weather, charging of mobile phones, communication systems and LED lighting system.
An inverter has been provided which supplies 220/230V ac supply. Provision has been made for using inverter output for running energy efficient lighting systems and other devices such as oxygen generator, etc. The four batteries in the shelter can provide about 4000 W power.
Two more sets have been delivered for installation at higher posts. Performance parameters will be recorded for one year and data collected will be subsequently analyzed for any desired design improvements.