Sonam Wangchuk: Creator of the solar-heated tents
Sonam Wangchuk is an innovator and Indian engineer whose new innovation proves to be a boon for the Indian-Army and other people. Born in 1966, at Ulekytopko, Ladhak. He didn’t get an education till the age of 9 due to fewer villages in his area. But it didn’t stop him to be the face of change.
Solar Heated Tents
Sonam Wangchuk invented fully-portable solar-heated tents for the Indian-Army which will save the Jawans (soldiers) from the chilling temperatures at high altitudes. His team ‘Himalayan Institute of Alternatives’ has developed a prototype of this solar tent. Mr. Sonam shared that it is the second prototype.
The first solar-heated tent was made for the nomads of the Changthang region. The nomads used to live in old tents with a big hole at the top for the smoke to go out. This leads them in had healthy and poor conditions. Unfortunately, the government then didn’t pick Mr. Sonam’s idea and continued to distribute cotton tents to these nomadic people. But the idea of solar-tent didn’t leave Mr. Wangchuk.
In 2020, his innovation again caught the attention of the government during the Galwan Valley clashes with the ‘People’s Liberation Army’ (China). A large number of troops had to be stationed at high-altitudes of Ladhak which meant a scarcity of suitable accommodation.
Burning kerosene oil was a massive onslaught against the local environment, created discomfort for the soldiers, and was prone to fire accidents. All these reasons made Mr. Sonam rethink and refine his innovation of solar- heated tents.
Feature Rich-Future Rich
- The solar-heated tent doesn’t only offer more space than provided by the container cabins used by the Indian Military. But also emits zero pollution in the environment. Thus making it an eco-friendly innovation due to the non-requirement of kerosene oil.
- The tent is portable, prefabricated, and can be assembled on the spot.
- Its design is very simple. The solar-heated tent is well insulated and offers a large space for absorbing the sun.
- The tent provides solar intake through the section facing south and the insulation comes from all the sides.
- The insulation properties of the tent help to preserve the sun rays and heat during the night for the soldiers.
- The solar-heated tent can be dismantled and set up anywhere. Each piece weighs around 30 kg which can be carried by the soldiers.
- He said the tent can be made for any number of soldiers depending on the size. For example, 40 pieces are required to make a tent for 10 soldiers.
Feature Rich-Future Rich
- The cost of making such solar-heated tents is 5 lakh (INR). But it is half the cost of container cabins which costs 9-10 lakh (INR). Solar-heated tents offer double space and portability which the container cabins don’t have.
Mr. Sonam added that the tent is attractive for the tourism industry too. It is beneficial for all those people who seek quick, warm, and no-fuel accommodation.
The tent is useful for all those tourism areas where there is a lack of proper infrastructure. So, you see, the tent is not just restricted to military purposes. For staff working with the ‘Border Roads Organization’, who otherwise live in pathetic single plastic tents, these tents can also be used. Instead, they can live in these tents comfortably without leading to emissions.
Mr. Sonam didn’t reveal the materials used in the tent as it is still under the process of approval from the Indian Military. His patent application is under consideration. In a few weeks, the tent will undergo testing at one of the highest motorable roads in the world. The production decision will be taken by the government after further testing.
The testing will take place at Chang-La pass, which is around 17,600 feet above sea level and on the way to Pangong Lake, for extreme weather and wind conditions. “This is as difficult as a spot for research purposes”, Sonam concludes.