For the engineer types in the audience: Army backpacking stove RFP

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Toe Cozy

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Sep 1, 2004
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Springfield, Springfield!. Avatar: Spruce Peak Kim
Not everyone will be interested in this, but I thought that the engineer minds on the board might be interested in this request for proposal from the Army about backpacking stoves. I know how engineers like to ponder over these kind of problems and toss around possible solutions in their heads.
A07-165 TITLE: Flameless Personal Water Heater Using Battlefield Fuel (JP-8)
TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Materials/Processes, Human Systems

OBJECTIVE: Develop a personal water heating system that uses JP-8 fuel to safely and efficiently heat water and melt snow without an open flame.

DESCRIPTION: The Warfighter needs an effective means to heat small quantities of water for beverages, dehydrated rations, and personal hygiene, as well as to melt snow during cold weather operations. Past and present approaches to this problem have been the trioxane fuel bar and commercial backpacking stoves. But fuel bars have had historical supply problems and are no longer available, and existing commercial stoves are too heavy, inefficient, and expensive for infantry use. Even the latest development, a new JP-8 stove based on Capillary Force Vaporizer (CFV) technology (see reference #2), that sets new standards for size, weight, and ease of use, leaves room for improvement. Open-flame stoves have numerous shortcomings, including soot and smoke during priming, dangerous emissions when used without adequate ventilation, poor performance in the wind, multi-step operation that requires subjective decisions on the part of the user, and water heating efficiency limited to about 70%, even if coupled with specially designed high-efficiency cookware.

Accordingly, new approaches and new technologies are sought for a "Hot Cup" concept that challenges the backpacking stove paradigm by providing a flameless alternative for heating water. It is envisioned that the Hot Cup would be configured as a self-contained heating cup, a heating module that can be paired with arbitrary canteen cups, or an immersion heating device. One promising technological approach is small-scale catalytic combustion, which has been demonstrated in enclosed chambers or channels.

The Hot Cup shall heat 0.5 liter of water by 55 °C in less than 10 minutes, including warm-up/priming time, with a goal of boiling water in less than 10 minutes. The minimum efficiency is 70% (goal of 90%), as determined by heating 500 grams of water from 4 °C to boiling and dividing the energy added to the water (~200 kJ) by the heating value of JP-8 fuel consumed. The Hot Cup shall weigh less than the CFV stove system (425 grams for the stove and pot), with a goal of 225 grams or less. The Hot Cup shall be rain- and wind-proof, and because the primary customer will be cold weather troops, it must perform well in cold weather environments down to -29 °C. Water-contact surfaces shall allow proper cleaning and sanitation and shall be protected against fuel contamination. The Hot Cup shall be safe to handle when hot by means of insulation, wire handles, or similar, and all exposed parts should cool quickly to minimize the potential for severe burns. It is imperative that the Hot Cup operate on JP-8 battlefield fuel.

In addition to the requirements expressed above, other potentially desirable characteristics include: sufficiently clean exhaust for operation inside a tent; built-in fuel reservoir holding enough fuel for three days of typical use; foolproof push-button operation; safeguards to prevent overheating; output control allowing fast boiling or slow simmering; mess-free refueling; and, if power is required, self-powered, self-recharging, or man-powered (e.g., hand crank) solutions.

PHASE I: Establish the feasibility of a personal water heater concept that meets the operational requirements stated in the topic description by conducting research to demonstrate that the approach is scientifically valid and practicable. Mitigate risk by identifying and addressing the most challenging technical hurdles in order to establish viability of the technology or process. Perform proof-of-principle validation in a laboratory environment, and characterize effectiveness through experimentation using JP-8 fuel (operation with other fuels does not constitute concept validation). Address safety and human factors concerns, and provide credible projections of performance, size, weight, energy requirements, and cost of a system suitable for fielding.

PHASE II: Refine the technology and fabricate advanced prototypes that meet all operational, effectiveness, and reliability requirements. Address manufacturability issues related to full-scale production for military and commercial utilization. Observe strict attention to safety and human factors. Provide prototype units that and are sufficiently mature for technical and operational testing, limited field-testing, demonstration, and display. Provide user manuals and training to support government testing of the equipment.

PHASE III: PHASE III DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The initial military application for this technology will be a personal water heating system for cold weather troops. The transition from research to operational capability will most likely result from a partnership or licensing agreement with a manufacturer of outdoor recreational gear and subsequent military procurement as a commercial or non-developmental item. The outdoor recreational market for backpacking stoves and similar products is much larger than the military market, and any advances in system weight, efficiency, and ease of use can easily be marketed to outdoor enthusiasts, particularly campers, hikers, and mountain climbers. Beyond heating water, small-scale flameless combustion technology also promises to lay the foundation for a new class of battlefield fuel powered Warfighter individual equipment, including battery chargers, beverage chillers, and personnel warmers.

REFERENCES: 1) Detail Specification MIL-DTL-83133E – Turbine Fuels, Aviation, Kerosene Types, NATO F-34 (JP-8), NATO F-35, and JP-8+100

2) Modular Individual Water Heater fact sheet,

3) Squad Stove fact sheet,

KEYWORDS: water heater, catalytic combustion, individual equipment, logistics fuel, camp stove

TPOC: Leigh Knowlton
Phone: 508-233-5183
Fax: 508-233-5183
Email: [email protected]


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Sep 21, 2005
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Out of control
Umm... that's quite a tall order!

Cheap (cheaper than commercial stoves - whisperlite is $80), no-flame fuel stove, 70-90% efficiency, 425g/14oz with goal of 7oz for stove and pot (Keep in mind Jetboil PCS is 15oz), built-in fuel reservoir, rain and wind-proof (keep in mind that in a test the Jetboil didn't boil water in 7mph winds), clean-exhaust for operating in tent...

"The outdoor recreational market for backpacking stoves and similar products is much larger than the military market, and any advances in system weight, efficiency, and ease of use can easily be marketed to outdoor enthusiasts, particularly campers, hikers, and mountain climbers."

Hey, if they make one that does all of that and costs less than $80 (whisperlite,jetboil) or $140 (msr reactor), then I'm in!!

Although I'd hope I wouldn't be limited to jet fuel :)
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