Testing heat insulation material in Antarctica
In February 2019, a group of ProPolar researchers from 5 different Universities went to Antarctica. One of the Universities was Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. They took a Thermarmour bespoke tent with them, to test the structure and the heat insulation material of the Thermarmour fabric. We share with you here some highlights from their blog of the trip.
On arrival, the team erected the tent in a shed to practice putting it together, out of the cold and the wind. The first attempt took 2 hours to complete. It looked like a cosy yurt when completed.
The researchers said “Throwing over the outer envelope of the tent (ORV8) took only ten minutes … ORV8 is made by Thermarmour in Hull, of four layers of heat insulation material including Mylar – as in space blankets – and performs for us amazingly in the tent.”
“We had a lot of visitors to the tent and compliments and even requests to stay there from locals on the rather crowded base. With adventures abounding here we are really grateful to share it with such an interesting range of researchers.”
The tent was then disassembled and, as always, was a much easier process than the assembly! They then packed it up carefully for a rough boat ride the following day.
One aspect that the team spent plenty of time planning, was which way round should the tent be positioned, for best results. Things that had to be taken into consideration included: wind ingress into the tent; snow ingress and dumping around the tent; maximising solar access as well as water run-off from the hill above.
Journey to the tent pitching spot
The tent was packed on to the back of a pick-up truck and driven to their destination, Collins Bay. The coastline was marked by two lines of ice, one marking high tide, the other marking low tide that day. A very challenging environment to test out Thermarmour!
Time to put the tent up
Then the assembly on-site began. First the ground sheet went down, followed by assembling the trellis walls, door and crown-shaped roof. Then it was an easy seven-minute step to throw over the external ORV8 Thermarmour envelope. This is the four layer Thermarmour heat insulation material that was made in Hull (which had already been tested in a haddock storage facility in August the previous year) to see if it would perform well in the intense cold there at minus 20C.
Next, the team got to work on suspending the ORV8 inner lining of the tent. Starting at the crown first, tied with straps onto struts of the structure with Velcro. Once this was done, the team could see what the tent fully erected looked like on the inside. Once the inner and outer tent skins were added it was pitch black in the tent so they used solar lights donated to the project.
Sleeping under heat insulation material
The team slept well in the tent overnight, with temperatures outside around minus 10C. Over the next few days, the team worked on minimising the noise from the stormy wind. They also worked on protecting the tent from being blown over in high winds.
Happy with their amendments, the tent was left in-situ. Future Polar researchers will use it whilst doing field research at Collins Bay in Antarctica.
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