Thursday, January 31, 2013

Albedo and More: Designing for Intense UV

We just heard from the expedition team at Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE), who have been using NEMO's Isopod 300 at their Mt. Vinson Low Camp this year.

We're psyched to hear that the tent is being used as a cooking/dining/lounging area for clients and expeditions.

The tent has been up for 3 rotations on Vinson—about 3-4 weeks in total, seeing a fair amount of use. Want to know a little nugget of information? UV can be the single biggest factor in tent deterioration for Arctic expeditions. Even though the UV level is not as intense as in equatorial regions, factors like heightened ozone depletion, continuous 24 hrs of daylight, and a crazy high albedo from snow/ice reflectance all contribute to the extremely high UV index.

Expeditions like ALE's put up the tent for the duration of the trip (max of 90 days) —meaning that a typical season can see from 1000-2000 hours of exposure. If you don't take this bit of data in account for design, the fabrics will wear out and fall apart FAST. We designed the outer shell fabric for Isopod 300X with UV durability at the forefront.

The base fabric is a 150D polyester, since polyester has much more UV stability than nylon fibers. A Dyneema ripstop is then woven in to reinforce the fabric and give advanced UV protection. Dyneema is a super fiber of sorts, and exhibits almost no degradation with respects to UV exposure, water absorption, etc. UV inhibitors are also added to both the color dye, and the microporous breathable coating, giving a rock solid construction for environments like Antarctica. Proof is in the pudding though, so we look forward to hearing from the ALE team for many years to come.

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