UConn researcher invents self-cooling tent amid global warming


A new invention from a UConn researcher is set to make camping a breeze.

Although summer is a popular time for camping, rising global temperatures have made the tent a hot, poorly ventilated space to sleep in, researcher Al Kasani found. Kasani, a current PhD student at UConn studying chemical engineering, studies all things renewable energy — from electric cars to solar power. An avid camper and self-proclaimed nature lover himself, Kasani saw firsthand this issue of the too hot tent and set out to find a solution.

However, Kasani’s initial vision also stretched beyond camping. He said that he has always noticed how tents are utilized during times of natural disasters. After earthquakes and during wars, Kasani said, tents were always being used in recovery efforts, whether that be shelter for the displaced or as makeshift hospitals. Because these people could be in precarious states, Kasani said he worried about the temperature inside these tents leading to other conditions like heat stroke.

The inability to manage the inside temperature of camping tents pushed Kasani to look into the possibility of a “self-cooling tent.” 

Working with the Technology Commercialization Services (TCS) and  UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering (C2E2), Kasani was able to develop new technology that would allow a tent’s internal temperature to be 20 degrees cooler compared to outside.

The tent cools itself by utilizing a resource that is often found in abundance near campsites: water. A single gallon of water is all it takes to cool the tent for a full 24 hours. Turning to nature for a sustainable solution is something that Kasani said was key in his mindset during development.

“I knew that nature was the best place [to get] inspiration…We all know that plants wick water from the ground, then they sweat and then they cool themselves,” Kasani said. “We also know that they get their energy from the sun; what I did was simply find a material that could do the same job.”

Kasani said that creating a product that worked with the environment instead of exacerbating global warming was always at the forefront of his design. Now, his final product needs only water and sunlight to create a more comfortable tent environment. 

The cooling effect works by pulling water into the material of the tent in what is called “evaporative cooling technology.” As the material becomes damp, it cools the inside air significantly. The tent was created to have a small footprint, literally and environmentally. The lightweight fabric makes it easy to carry, while utilizing a renewable resource like water makes it a much more sustainable option compared to portable air conditioning systems or fans that use electricity.

Kasani said the inventing process was no easy feat. For him, some of the biggest struggles were mental rather than in the lab.

“It is difficult to believe that you can create something that no one has thought of before. At first I believed, ‘Hey, this idea is not that significant.’ That was my mindset,” Kasani said. “After I started talking to people in my group and some other places, I [realized] no one has ever thought of this; this is something innovative.”

Although Kasani’s new tent technology is not commercialized yet, he said that he receives calls every week from recreation companies and tent manufacturers that are interested in creating and selling his invention. Right now, Kasani said that he is undergoing negotiations with a few of those companies, and his true goal is to one day see the tent serve campers and disaster victims alike.  

“The practical goal for me was to add value to the world…an idea in your brain is just an idea. A thesis is just a thesis and can just sit in a library for a long time. [When] the idea becomes something useful for people, I think that’s where the real value starts to build,” Kasani said.


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