Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 1
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has claimed to have made a breakthrough in developing technology for utilising solar heat harnessed during the day for heating rooms during the night at extreme altitude.
The Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), a DRDO laboratory based at Leh, has developed a shelter for troops that uses non-conventional energy for heating, instead of fossil fuel. The shelter, costing about Rs 60 lakh, was tested through the winter at Chang La, located at 17,600 feet in Ladakh, with temperature as low as minus 40°C. The DRDO established the world’s highest research station there last year.
Scientists at DIHAR said while solar energy could be harnessed and stored in batteries for later use, the same is not applicable for solar heat and conventionally solar heat can be used only while the sun is shining. Claimed to be the only kind of shelter, it utilises phase change materials (converting solid to liquid and liquid to solid on change of temperature, thereby releasing heat) to store thermal energy collected from evacuated tube solar collectors. It has a greenhouse based thermal trap area over the roof and utilises greenhouse concept for creating a tunnelling effect to trap solar heat in the shelter.
“The shelter maintained a temperature of 7-10°C when the ambient temperature stood around minus 30°C. Other shelters in similar conditions have temperature of minus 10-15°C,” a DIHAR scientist said. “However, there is a need to operate a diesel generator for six hours during the peak winter months (January and February) when the temperature falls below minus 30°C,” he said.
At present, the Army uses “bhukaris” and generator-run electrical appliance to heat spaces like barracks and bunkers in Ladakh as well as the North-East, consuming lakhs of litres of kerosene and diesel every year. The non-conventional energy shelter would be environmentally beneficial in ecologically sensitive areas, besides generating carbon credits.
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