Improved Softwall Shelter Heating System
Navy SBIR 2015.1 - Topic N151-001
MARCOR - Ms. Elizabeth Madden - [email protected]
Opens: January 15, 2015 - Closes: February 25, 2015 6:00am ET

N151-001 TITLE: Improved Softwall Shelter Heating System

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Materials/Processes

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PM Combat Support Systems (CSS), PdM Combat Support Equipment (CSE)

OBJECTIVE: To develop an improved, self-starting, multi-fuel burning heating system capable of circulating heated air inside all softwall shelters fielded by the Marine Corps. This technology should enable a reduction in both the dependency on liquid fuels in the field and the logistics tail associated with the transportation and storage of these fuels.

DESCRIPTION: Marine Corps operational requirements address the reduction of fossil fuel consumption, the use of alternative fuels and improvements to energy efficiency (Ref. 1, 2). Examples addressing this requirement include: reducing liquid fossil fuel consumption, reducing cube/size and weight of operational equipment, and reducing the logistics burden of softwall shelters. The Marine Corps currently employs forced air and radiant heaters (Ref. 3) for use in softwall shelters used by the Marines (Ref. 4). These heaters are dependent on liquid fossil fuel transported in the field by tanker convoys. These convoys are susceptible to enemy attacks and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which place Marines at risk. The present softwall shelter heaters used by the Marines are currently only available from one commercial source (Ref. 3). These heaters are designed to burn a range of liquid fuels (DF1, DF2, DFA, JP5, and JP8) which allows for flexibility in the field, but does not allow the use of organic plant based fuel sources, solid fossil fuels, micro-grids/national grids, host nation natural gas or other alternative fuels such as those produced by a chemical conversion process similar in nature to those used in Meals Ready to Eat (MRE)s, hand warmers and boot warmers. Developing a heating system which allows for highly-flexible, multi-fuel usage in the field could allow the use of alternate sources such as, but not limited to, wood, wood pellets, corn husks and other readily available plant based organics, with heat resulting from a bi-product(s) of catalytic chemical processes and other types of sources found in the area where the bivouac is conducted. This will help reduce the need to transport liquid fuel via tanker vehicles and reduce the number of Marines and vehicles on the road. This will also contribute to reducing the number of possible targets of enemy attacks and the logistics burden associated with environmental systems used in theater.

The Marine Corps seeks innovative approaches in this new softwall shelter heating system capable of using both existing fuel sources as well as plant based organics and alternate fuel sources (Ref. 5, 6) while decreasing the packed cube/size and weight of heater systems by 50%. Proposers should be mindful of the desire for heating concepts that exhibit properties that also promote at least 50% reduction in fossil fuel consumption associated with electrical power and packed physical volume/weight. Critical to the operational requirements of the Marine Corps is the ability to improve energy efficiency and reduce its logistical footprint to extend our expeditionary capabilities. Proposed concepts will need to address the ability to circulate heated air within shelters having a square foot area range between 150 to 650 square feet as well as a multi-fuel type burning capability which could allow for the additional use of other alternative fuels as discussed in the preceding paragraph. Proposed concepts should be able to provide heated air at 50 degrees Fahrenheit (�F) from an intake of -25 �F ambient air temperature and operate without the use of an external power source. The setup into an operational mode for this system should be able to be accomplished by no more than two personnel in less than 20 minutes and shall have thermostatic controls to enable automatic adjustment of the heater output range from 10,000 to 45,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs). Proposed concepts should be able to accept fuel from any standard 5 gallon (20 liter) fuel can and have an automatic shut-off capability to stop the flow of fuel to allow change out of the fuel sources and be able to operate for up to 10 hours on 5 gallons (20 liters or equivalent) of fuel. The total weight of the softwall shelter heating system without fuel should not be more than 120 pounds (lbs) Threshold (T) and 60 lbs. Objective (O) inclusive of any identified accessories or additional components deemed necessary for normal operation. The system should be storable and operable in temperatures down to -40 �F to allow use in an arctic environment and have heat input and exhaust connections compatible with current shelters used within the Marine Corps (Ref. 4). Acceptable exhaust levels should be 4 or below on the Bacharach Smoke Scale. The Bacharach Smoke Scale determines efficient combustion of fuel and is the standard method for evaluating smoke density in the flue gases from distillate fuels. Too much or dense smoke shows excessive fuel usage and improper settings for the system.

Proposed concepts shall be able to function in all climates and environments that may be encountered by the United States Marine Corps� (USMC) forces. To ensure this, the proposed solution will have to pass applicable tests outlined in MIL-STD 810F/G ( There shall be no significant degradation in the material system�s performance when ambient temperatures are between 125�F and -40�F, to the extent outlined in MIL-STD 810F/G. The new technology shall be capable of being employed in all Marine Corps tactical softwall shelters and shall have the ability to be transported in all tactical ground and air vehicles.

PHASE I: The small business will develop concepts for a softwall shelter heater system that meet the requirements as stated in the description section. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the selected concept(s) in meeting Marine Corps needs and will establish that the concept(s) can be developed into a useful system for the Marine Corps. Feasibility will be established by user testing and analytical modeling, as appropriate. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestones that will address technical risk reduction.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II Proposal, the small business will develop a softwall shelter heater system prototype for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the Marine Corps requirements for the softwall shelter heater system described above. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into producible design that will meet Marine Corps requirements. Working with the Marine Corps, the company will prepare a Phase III development plan to detail the strategy for transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use.

PHASE III: If Phase II is successful, the company will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning the heating system for Marine Corps use. The company will further develop and produce softwall shelter heating systems for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Marine Corps for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use. The company will prepare manufacturing plans and develop manufacturing capabilities to produce the product for military and commercial markets.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The potential for commercial application and dual use is high. The softwall shelter heater system can be used in commercial and civilian shelters where liquid fuels are not available or in short supply. Additionally, multi-fuel heaters can be used in soft walled shelters employed by emergency management, disaster aid and humanitarian aid agencies as well as by municipal public safety organizations.

1. Expeditionary Force 21. Forward and Ready: Now and In the Future. 4 March 2014.

2. Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office. Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Strategy and Implementation Plan. March 2011.

3. HDT Engineered Technologies website. 08 July 2014.

4. RDECOM. "Department of Defense Standard Family of Tactical Shelters (rigid/soft/hybrid)." Joint Committee on Tactical Shelters (JOCOTAS). 17 May 2012.

5. Department of Energy: Wood and Pellet Heating. 25 November 2013.

6. Wood Pellet Stoves, Current July 2014.

KEYWORDS: Multi-fuel; alternate fuel; tents; softwall shelters; heaters; energy efficiency

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