Creating an Anti-Stove

5:06 p.m. on August 23, 2007 (EDT)
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Since everyone here loved the "Selecting a Stove" post, I'll throw out a new chemistry topic about endothermic reactions and "not cooking in tents".

First off, I live in Missouri where it was 102 when I went out for lunch today. Humidity was fine today but it's usually above 90%. Camping is miserable here during the summer.

That said, why doesn't someone invent an anti-stove that uses some kind of fuel (like ammonium nitrate NH4NO3), that when mixed with water (humidity H2O), absorbs heat (endothermic). The by-product of the chemical reaction should be O2 (so it can be used in tents).

(I realize that ammonium nitrate is very dangerous, and probably is not the best choice for our anti-stove.)


5:30 p.m. on August 23, 2007 (EDT)
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But if you do that, your tent will end up 6 feet deep in weeds ;).

Hmmm, AC for a tent. When I was at the Scout National Jamboree in 2001 and 2005 (last two times I was on staff), we were in Army tents (nominally 8-person, I think). This was in Virginia, with similar 90/90 weather to Mizzery (my mother was from there). These had a tunnel type extension that I understand is intended to attach an AC. We hardy souls, of course, didn't rate the AC, so we made do with fans (self-purchased) that we rigged up next to our beds .... errr, cots. Now Real Men (like you Marines) are hardy enough in everything from Alaskan mid-winter to tropical and desert mid-summer that you can tolerate anything. So I would guess that the USMC didn't supply you with any nampypamby things like AC for your tents.

Anyway, AFAIK, the only thing so far is AC units for larger tents that are dependent on a supply of electricity. And those (the AC units, tents, and generators) require trucks to transport. Maybe a Humvee is useful for something after all (other than transporting Our Governator around).

5:53 p.m. on August 23, 2007 (EDT)
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But if you do that, your tent will end up 6 feet deep in weeds ;).

Are you saying ammonium nitrate makes weeds grow? Or that it would explode and he'd be "six feet under"? :)

7:51 p.m. on August 23, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill -
Not only we not have AC, we didn't have tents! Actually we had these shelter half things that were half a pup tent. You had to pair up with someone to make a whole tent Most of the time we just dug a hole in the ground (fox hole or "fighting hole") and laid the shelter half over the top to keep the rain out.

But as far as the anti-stove goes, there has to be some "cold pack" technology that some enterprising young person could exploit.

8:57 a.m. on August 26, 2007 (EDT)
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I wouldn't count on much more than a flame war when you mention someone from that enterprising young generation doing anything.

A while back, I started an E85 thread, suggesting pretty much the same thing from our youth. That part appeared to have never been read. Maybe I used white ink when I type it or something. Anyway, my point was to suggest a similar idea as you are suggesting. I guess I just can't express my thought very well in print.

I'm not being critical of anything or anybody, but the reason I started the thread was to encourage developmental ideas (you know, think tanking). Instead the thread went into a terrible frenzy. A lot of good came out of it, but I still think that this country is wasting a lot of natural intelligence. We're smart enough to solve a lot of these problems we have created, or just want solved.


7:35 p.m. on August 26, 2007 (EDT)
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Just got back from a weekend of climbing in the (very hot!) Sierra. Yes, there are several varieties of cold packs, originally developed for medical purposes. There may be a way of improving the efficiency (speed of cooling, recycle - current ones are single use, and cooling for weight. There are Peltier effect devices available in small sizes, but they do require power supplies that would be too large for backpackers at this point in time (interesting thing is that Peltier discovered thermoelectricity in 1834, and it hasn't been developed any farther than it has). In this part of the continent, where the humidity is low, you could probably do something with evaporative cooling (some call them swamp coolers), but in your area (and Ed G's) where you get high humidity along with the high temperatures, that doesn't work very well. But that's what we had when I was growing up in the desert in Arizona - worked great until all the Easterners and MidWesterners retired and move in, and decided they had to have green lawns, which had to be watered heavily, which drove the humidity level up.

Lots of possible approaches, though I doubt the backpacker market is big enough. Maybe if efficient, compact approaches are developed for cars???

10:41 a.m. on August 27, 2007 (EDT)
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On a number of miserable hot, humid nights at a friends appartment in Philadelphia we hung loose weave cotton soaked in cold water over a box fan in the window which seemed to cool the air a bit.

Perhaps you could do the same thing with a small electric fan and stream water. I suppose you could use flexible photo voltatic panel(s) like these to charge the batteries or provide power during daylight hours.

12:00 p.m. on August 27, 2007 (EDT)
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Thanks for reminding me, Fred. I need to charge my emergency battery (I do this off my 26 watt foldup solar panel - battery is used for a variety of emergency uses - ham radio emergency communications, refrigerator ... ummm, maybe I should get one of the Peltier cold boxes, except they are a bit small).

Also, on a somewhat different topic, Steripen now has a solar charger for the rechargeable batteries you can get for their UV water sterilizer pen. I have one that I got at the OR Show for evaluation. Alicia has one of the Steripens for evaluation as well, but without the solar charger. So Trailspace should have in-the-field reviews in a couple months from the Left Coast and from Down East. At this point, I can tell you that the solar charger takes a really long time to recharge exhausted batteries, like 2 days of California sunshine for the 2 RCR123A's. It could take a week if you are in a cloudy climate.

My fold-up Brunton solar panel is the 26 watt version. They introduced a bigger version at the OR Show that felt like it was close to double the weight, but puts out something like double the wattage. Down in Antarctica, the one I have would recharge our camera batteries (Nikon's EL-EN3e) in less than 2 hours. This should be adequate for the battery-powered fans I have seen recently for camping. But I suspect the cooling you got in Philly was more from the air movement than any evaporative cooling. Still, that's an idea for us here in the drier West.

1:19 p.m. on August 27, 2007 (EDT)
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I'm certain the cooling was from cooling the air by passing it through cool, wet cloth and not from evaporative cooling, as the humidity was typical for August in Philadelphia, 80-90%. I should have pitched a couple tents in the yard this Saturday (97F, 93%), placed thermometers in each, used one as a control and set the other up with the wet rag / fan system and let them go for a couple hours, then noted any temperature differences.
I should have, but I was busy sweating and puffing along doing some trail work. By the time I got home the only activity that seemed at all attractive to me involved a garden tub of cool water and a nice, cold bottle of beer.
Maybe I'll test my theory next weekend, hopefully the weather will cooperate!

10:14 a.m. on August 28, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill, I will be very interested to hear how your SteriPen solar charger works out, especially in different locales.

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