Three methods are being developed for keeping water from freezing during high-altitude climbs so that mountaineers can remain hydrated. Three strategies have been developed. At the time of this reporting two needed to be tested in the field and one was conceptual.
The first method is Passive Thermal Control Using Aerogels. This involves mounting the fluid reservoir of the climber’s canteen to an inner layer of clothing for better heat retention. For the field test, bottles were mounted to the inner fleece layer of clothing, and then aerogel insulation was placed on the outside of the bottle, and circumferentially around the drink straw. When climbers need to drink, they can pull up the insulated straw from underneath the down suit, take a sip, and then put it back into the relative warmth of the suit. For the field test, a data logger assessed the temperatures of the water reservoir, as well as near the tip of the drink straw.
The second method is Passive Thermal Control with Copper-Shielded Drink Straw and Aerogels, also mounted to inner layers of clothing for better heat retention. Braided wire emanates from the inside of the fleece jacket layer, and continues up and around the drink straw in order to use body heat to keep the system-critical drink straw warm enough to keep water in the liquid state. For the field test, a data logger will be used to compare this with the above concept.
The third, and still conceptual, method is Active Thermal Control with Microcontroller. If the above methods do not work, microcontrollers and tape heaters have been identified that could keep the drink straw warm even under extremely cold conditions. Power requirements are not yet determined because the thermal environment inside the down suit relative to the external environment has not been established. A data logger will be used to track both the external and internal temperatures of the suit on a summit day.
This work was done by Scott E. Parazynski, Evelyne Orndoff, and Grant C. Bue of Johnson Space Center and Mark E. Schaefbauer and Kase Urban of Jacobs Technology. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809.
This invention is owned by NASA, and a patent application has been filed. Inquiries concerning nonexclusive or exclusive license for its commercial development should be addressed to the Patent Counsel, Johnson Space Center, (281) 483-1003. Refer to MSC-24490-1.