Sonam Wangchuk creates solar-powered tent for Indian Army

Ladakh-based engineer Sonam Wangchuk, who inspired the character of ‘Phunsukh Wangdu’ in Bollywood blockbuster “Three Idiots”, has developed a mobile solar-powered tent, accommodating 10 soldiers, for use by the Indian Army in high-altitude locations.

How did Wangchuk come up with the innovative idea?

“Indian and Chinese troops are being withdrawn from friction points. Disengagement is happening. It is good for both. Around 50,000 troops were deployed at high- altitude areas in harsh winter conditions. It was a difficult situation,” he said.

When soldiers are deployed in harsh freezing temperatures, they stay in tents made of cloth or in iron containers, and lakhs of liters of kerosene is used. It is a very costly affair as it also adds pollution to the environment and affects glaciers at high altitude areas, Wangchuk said.

“The soldiers too face problems using kerosene… many even suffer winter injuries,” the engineer said.

He said that at his Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh, they innovate on ways for comfortable living at higher altitudes.

“As our soldiers were living at high altitude areas, we decided to develop solar-heated shelters for them,” said Wangchuk, who has carried out research on solar-heated houses for the last 25 years.

He said that 15 years ago, he had developed a mobile shelter for nomad shepherds in the Changtang region of Ladakh.

“We started working on a project of a passive solar-heated tent in the varsity. It took a month to develop the tent,” he said.

The tent he came up for the army is divided into two parts: ‘green house’, which is also known as solar lounge, and a sleeping chamber where soldiers sleep. The two parts are divided by a portable wall that is called the heat bank.

Highly insulated, the tent is covered by a waterproof ‘windcheater’.

Soldiers can sit and work in the greenhouse part during the afternoon, while in the sleeping chamber, temperature is maintained at 15 degrees Celsius.

The tent costs Rs 5 lakh.

“While making this tent, we kept it portable. We also kept in mind hilltops like Black Top, Rezang La and Siachen. When we open up this tent, it turns out into 30 to 40 parts and each part is less than 30kg,” Wangchuk said.

He said that he designed the tent in close coordination and cooperation with the Indian Army.

Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar thanked Wangchuk and said that the innovation was very timely, absolutely relevant and perfect as usual.

Ladakh-based engineer/inventor Sonam Wangchuk who inspired the movie ‘3 Idiots’.

Images courtesy of (Photos: IANS) and thesatimes | Welcome to The South Asian Times

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