Summertime and camping go hand in hand for many outdoor enthusiasts. However, as summer temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, outdoor enjoyment may become less relaxing because cooling technology such as fans and portable air conditioners require electricity, which is rarely accessible at the average campsite.
Seeing an unfulfilled need, UConn researcher Al Kasani developed a new off-grid technology that allows a tent’s internal temperature to cool up to 20°F below the ambient temperature, in collaboration with Technology Commercialization Services (TCS) and the university’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering (C2E2). The tent requires only one external element to work, which is commonly found near campsites: water. A single gallon of water can operate the cooling technology in the tent for up to 24 hours.
“Looking into nature is the key to many of our problems.” Plants wick water from the ground and then sweat to cool themselves, and they get the required energy from the sun. “What I did was simply find a material that could do the same job,” Kasani says.
A patented fabric pumps water from a reservoir up through the whole surface area of the tent, resulting in a significantly greater temperature decrease than traditional cooling solutions. According to Michael Invernale, senior licensing manager at TCS, the most efficient technology currently on the market is an infrared-reflecting tent.
“All the heat gets bounced off of an infrared reflective tent, and the best-case scenario there is that it’s just as hot in the tent as it is outside,” he says. “It’s not any hotter, but depending on what’s inside the tent versus outside and airflow, it might still feel hotter inside the tent, even if the temperature is the same.” “With this new evaporative cooling technology, you can get the inside temperature down to 15 or 20 degrees cooler inside versus outside.”
The tent has a small footprint, both physically and environmentally. Its lightweight fabric makes it far more portable than electric fans, and its cooling system is “powered” by infinitely repeated interactions between water and titanium nanoparticles, which eliminates pollution and uses renewable resources. Because titanium is widely available, the tent’s production will remain cost-effective for producers while remaining affordable for consumers.