Sonam Wangchuk Creates Innovative Solar-Heated Tent for Indian Army Soldiers

George Orwell once said, “We sleep peaceably in our beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf.” And certainly, the soldiers defending the nation are undeniable heroes, who stand bravely protecting the borders even in the most extreme conditions, never wavering even an inch. To show gratitude towards the soldiers, Ladakhi engineer, education reformer and innovator, Sonam Wangchuk has created a solar-heated tent prototype for the soldiers of the Indian Army.

Announcing the creation on Twitter, Sonam revealed that his team at the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives have developed the prototype of an innovative solar-heated tent for Indian Army soldiers who are stationed in the cold and high-altitude regions of Ladakh.

Sonam revealed that the temperature inside the tent was over 15 degrees Celsius at 10 pm on a day when the minimum temperature outside was -14 degrees Celsius. The tent offers more space than the container cabins the Indian Army currently uses for its soldiers, requires no kerosene for heating purposes, and emits zero pollution into the environment.

According to Sonam,

This is the second prototype of a solar-heated tent I have made. The first one was made about a decade ago for nomads living in the Changthang region, who are constantly on the move but require an upgrade in their living facilities. Unfortunately, the government did not pick up on this innovation and instead continued distributing cotton tents for them, which I thought was a bad idea.

He didn’t abandon the idea to create such tents for soldiers who are often stationed on the border areas in the Himalayan region, where accommodations are not suitable for fighting off the cold; therefore, they bring environmentally-unfriendly materials such as kerosene to keep them warm. All this prompted him to create solar-heated tents for the Indian soldiers.

This tent is a solar-passive structure that is portable, prefabricated, and can be assembled on the spot. Sonam hasn’t yet revealed the details of used materials but the structure is built on similar scientific principles as solar houses.

Sonam Wangchuk Creates Solar-Heated Tent for Indian Army Soldiers

Sonam Wangchuk has created a solar-heated tent prototype for the soldiers of the Indian Army | Image: Twitter @Sonam Wangchuk

He said that the tent is much insulated from its surroundings with high degrees of solar intake and provides all the space for absorbing the heat from the sun. The simple design uses the sun to capture the heat, water to retain it and the tent’s insulation properties help retain it inside the tent for the dwellers at night.

Additionally, one can dismantle the tent and set it up again anywhere else. Each of the pieces disarranged weighs under 30 kilograms, which can be carried by local porters and soldiers and can be easily assembled at the required spot.

The engineer claims that this tent offers comfortable and non-polluting shelter to soldiers stationed in strategically important and high-altitude locations like the Black Top Hill or the Siachen Glacier. This tent works ten-folds better than the single-layered tents that the soldiers often carry, even to the high-altitudes.

With three different configurations for 10 soldiers, five soldiers, or a single officer – the number of pieces to assemble a tent varies. To build a tent for 10 soldiers, 40 such pieces are required. It costs about 5 lakh to build this solar-heated tent prototype. Sonam argued that the container cabins that are currently being used cost twice his prototype while offering double the space and ultimate levels of portability. He further added that this tent is not restricted to merely military use; one other obvious market is the tourism sector.

He states,

Any place that attracts tourists but doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure or facilities can use these tents. You can build resorts or camps with these passive solar-heated tents and offer comfortable accommodation for tourists during winters…These tents can also be used for labourers working with the Border Roads Organisation, who otherwise live in pathetic single plastic tents.

Currently, Sonam has been talking about his solar-heated tent with the Indian Army, but production decisions will only be taken after further testing. Soon, the tent will be tested at one of the highest motorable roads in the world.

If this tent passes for mass-production for military use, it could be a huge step to provide comfortable and warm lodging to the soldiers stationed in the Himalayan region.

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