High Performance Shelter Insulation with Reduced Weight and Cube
SBIR FY03.2 Topic A03-190
Department of Defense (DoD)/ARMY - Natick Soldier Center (NSC)

The entire solicitation may be viewed at http://www.acq.osd.mil/sadbu/sbir/solicitations/sbir032/index.htm

A03-190 TITLE: High Performance Shelter Insulation with Reduced Weight and Cube


OBJECTIVE: Recent manufacturing technology advances have been made creating porous silica or ?aerogels? that provide excellent thermal insulation. The technology is now becoming affordable for consideration in military shelter applications. The objective of this effort is to address specific technology issues related to incorporating aerogels into a textile-based insulation material for tents that is effective, lightweight, flexible, flame resistant, durable and affordable.

DESCRIPTION: The U. S. Army shelter systems must be rapidly deployable in a variety of external environmental conditions while providing a comfortable internal environment. There are two currently used methods of providing insulation for a military tent. The first method is the use of a stagnant air space between two layers of a shelter wall. This method does not provide sufficient insulation in extreme hot and cold environments. The second method is to hang a quilted blanket on the interior of a shelter. This insulation is a fiberglass/polyester/Mylar composite several layers thick. The material provides sufficient insulation but significantly increases the cube and weight of a system. Silica is well known for its inflammability and high thermal resistance. The lack of a highly efficient, low weight and packing cube shelter insulation drives the interest in this well-known material. The goal is to fabricate a nano-porous structure using silica to create an insulation applicable to shelters. Such materials can provide an R-value (thermal resistance) of 13 per inch thickness, compared to an R-value of 6 for the current composite (MIL-C-44154B). This aerogel-based insulation would significantly reduce the weight and cube of a system while providing at least the same level of thermal resistance. It must be cost effective, durable, and non-combustible. The thermal protective capabilities of nano-porous silica have been proven in outdoor sporting equipment, lightweight cold-weather jackets, and thermal blankets. Some added features of nano-porous silica are elimination of thermal signature and sound barrier.

PHASE I: Leveraging existing manufacturing technology for aerogels, explore fiber and textile substrates for integration with the aerogel with the goal of producing a lightweight, flexible, flame resistant, durable and affordable, high R-value insulation for military shelters approximately 200 square feet and larger. Assemble potential configurations and conduct laboratory testing. Evaluate flame resistance and cost. Deliver a report that documents the materials considered, test results and a suggested plan for future work.

PHASE II: Based on the results from Phase I, determine the best aerogel/textile configuration that produces the insulation material with the optimum thermal resistance coupled with low manufacturing cost. Optimize the insulation material for flame resistance, durability, and flex fatigue. Fabricate the insulation material with a developed method of shelter integration. Produce a report with material design, properties and specifications, analysis of performance, and evaluation of the potential for full-scale success.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The only shelter material that is used in the U. S. Army is heavyweight and bulky. With high mobility and sustainability requirements, all branches of the military would benefit from a lightweight thermal insulation material. This material would reduce the weight and cube of shelter systems while reducing climactic loads on internal shelter environments. If successful, this technology could transfer to individual protective equipment and civilian applications.

1) Bewley, Stefan, Caroline Hon, and Aina Zahari, ?Evaluation of Thermal Insulators for Tents and Clothing?, 17 May 2001.

2) Sievers, Bob ?Advanced Vacuum Foil Insulation? 1 August 2001.

3( North American Insulation Manufacturers Association

4) MIL-C-44154B, Cloth, Insulation, Multiple Layer Composite, Quilted, Flame Resistant.

KEYWORDS: Tents, Shelters, Insulation, Porous, Silicon, Silica, Thermal Resistance, Aerogels

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