Keeping warm in cold conditions has been a problem for troops since, well, since there have been troops. The DoD Transformation site has the scoop on the latest developments: Vacca Incorporated’s biofuel-powered flameless catalytic heaters.
Through the Company Grade Officer Initiative, the directorate funded the integration of the heaters into a vest.
The lightweight, easy-to-use prototype combines a standard work vest with two of Vacca Inc.’s biofuel-powered heaters in the two front panels of the vest.
Using fuel cell concepts developed at Los Alamos National Laboratories, Vacca Inc. developed heaters that work by passing methanol or ethanol across a catalyst membrane. The reaction byproducts are heat, carbon dioxide, and small traces of water.
The prototype weighs dramatically less, at only 12 ounces, than the 1.7-pound commercial products on the market today and has the potential to weigh eight ounces in future designs.
Commercially-introduced lithium ion heated jackets provide heat for two and a half to three hours before recharging the battery.
In contrast, Vacca Inc.’s prototype, can last 22 hours with 100 cubic centimeters of fuel in low heat mode (22 Watt) and 12 hours in high heat mode (42 Watt) according to the company’s final report.
The vest’s internal fuel supply has high/low/off settings for increased control.
Both the vest and fuel are much more affordable to the Department of the Defense compared to the available commercial products.
The vests are projected to cost less than half of what current commercial solutions cost and could be ready to launch by 2007.
How about a body armor/heating vest combo?