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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340
amssb-opa@natick.army.mil

Date: October 22, 2003
No: 03-36

Fan improves heater performance, tent comfort

NATICK, Mass. -- At first glance, the self-powered Thermoelectric Fan used with the Army’s Family of Space Heaters may appear to be a high-priced air mover.

However, when used with non-electric space heaters, the fan/tent heater combination is the most inexpensive option available to Army units for temporary space heating, costing several thousand dollars less than electric-powered forced hot air systems.

The fan was conceived and developed by the Shelters Team of the Product Manager-Force Sustainment Systems at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center here as an important accessory to space heaters that operate on liquid or solid fuel. It’s manufactured by Aspen Systems, Inc. in Marlborough, Mass.

In uninsulated structures, such as tents and barracks, the forces of natural convection are so strong that air heated by the stove quickly rises to the ceiling, leaving the area near the floor much colder.

With the fan, heated air is circulated downward creating more even heat distribution.

Testing conducted in the Soldier Systems Center arctic chamber at minus 60 degrees F showed that the fan can increase the temperature 1 foot off the floor by more than 20 degrees F.

This is important because soldiers sleep on or near the floor, and the most difficult parts to keep warm are the feet.

“With the fan we can have the stove barely on and it will warm you throughout the tent, whereas before you had to be right on the stove to stay warm, and your backside was still cold,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Harder in Fort Gordon, Ga. “I wish I had these in my unit over in Korea. It would make a huge change in wintertime comfort.”

When placed on a heater surface, the self-powered fan converts a small amount of heat energy directly into electricity to drive the fan’s impeller. It improves the performance of the heater by creating warmth throughout a larger area with the same fuel consumption, or it can heat the same area with less fuel.

Reduced fuel consumption, primarily JP-8 or diesel, is an important advantage because fuel must be transported along with the field unit, costing the Army as much as $12-$20 per gallon.

Logistic fuel is considerably more important than ammunition at every point along the battlefield except at the leading edge of the fighting, and even there fuel is more valued from time to time, according to Gen. Paul Kern, U.S. Army Materiel Command commander, speaking at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in March 2003. Fuel use is critical to the Army because fueling stations are remote in a combat zone.

In cold climates, the Army has estimated that a single fan can save as much as 320 gallons of heating oil in one heating season. Actual results depend on the local climate and annual “degree-days,” which is the difference between 65 degrees F and the day’s average temperature.

Since the fan’s introduction in 2000, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has received orders for more than 6,000 fans. Units can purchase the fan, currently priced at $590, through the DLA Web site at www.dscp.dla.mil or order it through the MILSTRIP system.

For more information about the Soldier Systems Center, please visit our website at http://www.natick.army.mil.


This page last updated on 28 February 2003.