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By the Numbers: If You Carry a Space Blanket, Buyer Beware


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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable By the Numbers: If You Carry a Space Blanket, Buyer Beware

Viewing 24 posts - 26 through 49 (of 49 total)
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  • #3703055
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    starting at chapter 1

    this is really good.  Open source textbook, intended for schools.  They have test questions to see if you understand…

    this is sort of like wikipedia or Kahn Academy.  Everything doesn’t have to be from a for profit company trying the make everyone rich.

    Not that I have anything against for profit companies trying to make everyone rich.  I’ve worked for several.  Never got rich though.  Did make a living…

    #3703059
    Michael B
    BPL Member

    @mikebergy

    Never got rich though.  Did make a living…

    all in perspective…

    But back on topic – seem like from the following comments, my $1 Walmart space blanket (provide it opens up and doesn’t stick to itself) should provide me with an effective emergency option to keep warm, even if it isn’t the least emissive material. I put it, along with a $1 Walmart poncho, together into my fanny pack. Takes up less space than my wallet.

     

     

    #3703067
    Tom Clark
    BPL Member

    @tomclark

    Locale: East Coast

    The material used for space blankets is not “foil.”  It has vaporized aluminum sputtered onto the surface, resulting in ~10 angstrom thick islands of Al.

    If you hold space blankets (potato chip or Chips Ahoy pouches) up to a bright light, you can see light filtering through. Instruments measure this “optical density,” which will depend on the metallization process and any subsequent abuse.

    The metallized film is typically laminated to second ply to bury this fragile layer in the middle for added protection.

    Comparing two blankets under a bright light can be a quick way to compare the effectiveness of two films.

    #3703068
    Jim Morrison
    Spectator

    @pliny

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    The conduction vs. radiation heat loss subject is most interesting.  In a survival class I took years ago they handed out thin yellow plastic bivy bags.   They seemed effective and I always assumed this was because of the envelope  they made that held the pocket of warm air around your body.  I.e, prevented convection to some extent.  The yellow color, while not perfect, also contributed to less heat through radiation, I think.  Some mountaineers used to wrap up in coated nylon tarp (they called it a “bivy sheet”) with surprising success.

    #3703070
    Tuukka U
    BPL Member

    @spiderbro

    Jerry,

    care to elaborate on blankets preventing you from radiating rather than reflecting radiation? I think you have it reversed

    #3703078
    Michael B
    BPL Member

    @mikebergy

    It seems In my opinion to be semantics. A hot body emits IR. The blanket can do 3 things: reflect the IR, absorb the ID, or allow the IR to pass through. Preventing a hot body from losing this energy to the atmosphere seems to be accomplished by the first two, but in practical application, the space blanket has so little mass that it is unlikely to absorb much energy. It is more likely to either let it pass through, or reflect it back into the environment surrounding the hot body.

    #3703090
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    yeah, it’s really semantics.  Bottom line – if you put on a space blanket you’ll lose less heat due to radiative heat loss.  200W less in that one example.

    the space blanket will heat up to the same temperature as your outer surface due to conduction (ignoring that there is a little air space so it’ll be a bit cooler)

    then, since the space blanket has low emissivity, it will not radiate IR

    as compared to whatever you’re wearing if you don’t have a space blanket, which will radiate IR

    I suppose the space blanket reflects IR back to your body but that’s moot, since the space blanket is (almost) touching it will be the same temperature as your body due to conduction

    if you look at someone with an IR camera, they’re glowing – emitting IR – that’s the heat that you’re losing

    do the same while wearing a space blanket – they’re dark – not emitting IR – not losing heat

    #3703091
    Dave @ Oware
    BPL Member

    @bivysack-com

    Locale: East Washington

    So still have the question about NASA space suits, do they have the shiny side to the inside or out?

    I have an extremely warm jacket-New Balance Fugo, that Richard Nisley tested as one of the warmest for it’s weight. It has a reflective finish on the lining fabric.

    Some of the biggest heat loss as mentioned happens from convection and sometimes evaporation. Even a cheap space blanket, poncho or trash bag reduces those a lot. The place I have seen cheap space blankets fall down on the job was in stormy weather where the wind just tore them apart. A leaf bag makes a better shelter in those situations as it is tougher and can form either a vest, jacket or mini tent.

    #3703095
    Tad Englund
    BPL Member

    @bestbuilder

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    It is interesting how this topic comes around every few years.

    If I recall correctly, many years ago it was determined (via thread talk and analysis) that the “regular space blankets” were basically worthless (other than a lightweight, fragil ground cloth).  I know the product hasn’t changed-  has the science changed or gotten better?

    #3703096
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    great…

    now I’m getting ads for SOL products : )

    (which is fine, I’d just as soon see SOL ads as something else)

    #3703134
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    “I’ve carried a space blanket around for decades.  Never used it.  ” – Jerry

    Yeah, me too.  I didn’t always have one with me, but often did.  And I never spent $15 on one – they’re $1 each online.

    And I’ve never used one for anything.

    But when I pack a trash-compactor bag, sometimes I use it.  Most often to haul trash with, from camp or the litter I’ve picked up along the trail.  But I’ve also gnawed a head- and arm-holes out of it and worn it as a make-shift poncho.  And I’ve dug a hole and lined it with the trash bag to create a sink to wash my hair and other bits in.

    So two UL principles:
    1) don’t bring what you don’t use and
    2) take multi-use items
    have caused me to abandon space blankets for Hefty Garden or Trash-Compactor bags.

    #3703135
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    “great…now I’m getting ads for SOL products : )”

    I periodically post about solar showers, solar showers, solar showers, solar showers because the models in those ads are cuter.

    I’m a bit unclear if men are even allowed to use them.

    #3703145
    Stephen Seeber
    BPL Member

    @crashedagain

    There has been a lot of good discussion here and I think a good number of questions have been answered.  If it is unclear why I recommend the orange side in, you might want to reread, I cover this in two different places.  But, as many have inferred, it is all about contact with a surface producing conductive transfer and preventing radiant transfer.  Concerning space suits.  The radiant barriers used in space suits and satellites  are typically multilayer insulations.  You get multiple layers of thin, low emissivity fabrics, separated by a scrims to minimize physical contact between each layer.  As long as the scrim grid is offset a bit between each successive layer, conduction between layers is minimized. In space, one need not be concerned with convective losses, at least for a satellite.  I don’t know how sealing is accomplished in a space suit and where the air seal is in relation to the radiant barrier.  Suffice it to say that if the radiant barrier sits in a vacuum, it will perform with greater efficiency.  Air in a tiny space does not support convection but still supports conduction.  Concerning R value beneath a tree, a cloud or the open sky.  Each of these describe different ambient conditions.  The clear sky will have a very low radiant temperature.  The cloudy sky will have a warmer temperature.  The clouds trap radiant energy from the earth that would otherwise travel out to space. which results in higher radiant temperatures than a clear sky.    Locating your self beneath a tree, especially a with leaves, would have  the warmest radiant temperature.  At night, the tree ensures the least heat loss  because the branches and leaves capture heat radiating from the ground to the sky after the sun sets so they have relatively high radiant temperatures.  The tree structure shades the ground from the heat sink that is the sky dome. The heating at the tree is part of a diurnal heating and cooling process, so the radiant temperature of the underside of the tree might be more or less than ground depending on time of day and cloud cover.    In each case, the delta T from the space blanket surface to the ambient will be different for each case,  so the heat loss will be different.  So, how does this impact the measured R value?  I am not sure.  Fibrous insulation thermal resistance is typically impacted by changes in their average temperatures.  This is largely due to the thermal properties of the trapped air.  Thermal conductivity of air increases with temperature.  It is also impacted by air pressure changes.  Effective emissivity of a space blanket may also change with temperature, as can conductivity of the sheet material.  One can search the internet to find these characteristics.  However, I would guess that the impact of temperature differences from extremes  of environment will have a far  greater impact on heat transfer than changes in emissivity or conductivity of the space blanket itself.    Convective losses due to wind speed will also have a substantial impact on the effectiveness of your space blanket.  So, how effective will a space blanket be in real life?  As we can all agree, that is a complex question.  But, you will be happier in a location shielded from the wind and shaded from the clear night sky.  If the surface is kept dry, you will   keep the effective temperature of the blanket from dropping due to evaporative cooling.  Minimize contact with the ground to minimize conductive losses.  Now, some have referred to missing solar gain due to the reflectivity of the blanket.  That could occur.  There are always tradeoffs and in that case, you’d probably want the orange side out.    Understanding some fundamental heat transfer mechanisms will at least help you use your space blanket as effectively as possible under the conditions of your emergency.

    #3703162
    Dave @ Oware
    BPL Member

    @bivysack-com

    Locale: East Washington

    I used to work for a company that had invented soft fabric coolers. They used  a reflective mylar with polyester needle punched thru it for the insulation.  This kept the mylar film from touching the fabrics on either side. I proved very insulating for the thickness compared to foams and other synthetic fills. Just like in our sleep systems, the bottom of the coolers used closed cell foam for resistance to compression.  That insulation wouldn’t work well for clothing or sleeping bags because the twisting and turning would have torn the mylar film, where in the cooler bags it was supported and protected by heavy duty nylon fabric. I still have a couple of the bags and they work well even tho 35 years old. I think the YETI bags and stuff just use foam today, but are much thicker.

    At one time someone offered a bivy sack with several internal layers of space blanket held apart by noseeum netting.

    I think it was the Rain Shed that also sold the mylar/netting already quilted together for making your own projects. I tried some in overmitts, but could not tell it made enough difference and it was fragile.

    #3703169
    Brett Peugh
    BPL Member

    @bpeugh

    Locale: Midwest

    Both of these are crap to use unless in a real emergency.  Go with the SOL Escape.

     

    [edited – MK]

    #3703221
    Eddie Brennan
    BPL Member

    @ouakha

    Locale: Scotland

    Like at least two of the above, I’m thinking, why orange on the inside…

    “Space blankets are often reflective on both sides. This means, where the blanket is warmed through direct contact with a body or clothing surface, the reflective outer surface of the fabric will limit or prevent radiant transfer that results from conductive heat transfer into the space blanket.

    The most effective radiant blanket will be highly reflective of infrared on both sides. A less effective heat blanket will be highly reflective on just one side and that side should usually face the cold ambient. ”

    In the field, the space blanket will be in contact with clothing / but also stretched over gaps as you hug it around you. This means then, I think, if I am following the science, that heat loss on the inside (from you, wrapped in the blanket) will not largely be radiant but conductive, so the internal surface emissivity is not so important. The space blanket will ‘acquire’ heat from your body via conduction. A low emissibity on the external surface of the space blanket means that little of that heat now residing in the fabric of the space blanket will be lost to the outside, to quote “A material with an emissivity of 0 is a perfect reflector—it emits no infrared energy as a result of its own temperature, but will reflect any infrared energy that strikes its surface.

    So keeping orange on the inside will reduce heat loss that travels via conduction into the space blanket, and potentially thereafter into the air via radiance. The low emissivity of the silver side should reduce that.

    Is there also a convection transfer of heat from the space blanket or does that require radiance (to transfer energy to the molecules of air) which will be impeded by the low emissivity?

     

    #3703225
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    “…heat loss on the inside (from you, wrapped in the blanket) will not largely be radiant but conductive, so the internal surface emissivity is not so important…”

    I think that all makes sense

    convective transfer from outer surface – the wind blows air at the surface, which warms up due to conduction (doesn’t matter what the emissivity is), and is then carried away

    #3703236
    Jacob
    BPL Member

    @jakeyjohn1

    With No Space Blanket:

    1. Conduction -> environment => Personal Heat Loss via Conduction

    2. Convection -> environment => Personal Heat Loss via Convection

    3. Radiation -> environment => Personal Heat Loss via Radiation

    With no Blanket you lose heat from 3/3 types of heat transfer

    With Space Blanket IR Reflective Side In

    1. Conduction -> Blanket -> environment => Personal Heat Loss via Conduction, blanket loss to environment via radiation, conduction, and convection.

    2. Convection -> Blanket -> environment => Personal Heat Loss via Convection, blanket loss to environment via radiation, conduction, and convection.

    3. Radiation -> Blanket reflects and absorbs no energy  -> Person => No Personal Heat Loss via Radiation

    With shiny side in you lose heat from 2/3 types of heat transfer, conduction and convection. The blanket loses heat to the environment from 3/3 types of heat transfer, so some of the heat it gets from you via conduction or convection is lost via radiation.

    With Space Blanket IR Reflective Side Out

    1. Conduction -> Blanket -> environment => Personal Heat Loss via Conduction, blanket loss to environment via conduction, and convection.

    2. Convection -> Blanket -> environment => Personal Heat Loss via Convection, blanket loss to environment via  conduction, and convection.

    3. Radiation -> Blanket -> environment => Personal Heat Loss via Radiation, blanket loss to environment via  conduction, and convection.

    With shiny side out you lose heat from 3/3 types of heat transfer, but the blanket dumps the heat it got from you via radiation to the environment via conduction and convection

    So with the reflective side out the blanket wont let out heat via radiation, but you still do. Since the blanket can still lose heat via conduction and convection, with the shiny side out there is still a pathway for the energy from personal radiation to escape to the environment. With shiny side in you are in theory blocking that pathway so that your body can only lose heat by conduction and convection.

     

    #3703238
    Eddie Brennan
    BPL Member

    @ouakha

    Locale: Scotland

    Shiny side in: will the heat saved via blocking radiant loss simply be redirected out via conduction?

    I suppose its not the number of avenues that’s crucially important but the overall energy lost, which requires measuring in the field or replicated in the lab.

     

    #3703246
    Todd T
    BPL Member

    @texasbb

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Too many absolutes in the foregoing descriptions.  These shiny things don’t block radiative heat transfer, they merely lessen it.  Just like insulation doesn’t block conduction, it lessens it.  I think there are too many variables involved for generalizations to be very useful.

    I suppose its not the number of avenues that’s crucially important but the overall energy lost, which requires measuring in the field or replicated in the lab.

    Or going out prepared (warm clothes and a way to keep them dry) so you won’t need emergency shiny things. :-)

    #3703247
    Michael B
    BPL Member

    @mikebergy

    I think it folly to not have a certain reasonable amount of emergency items. You cannot plan for everything and also carry a reasonably light pack. Pack for what is expected, and then this extra one ounce item may help in the chance what was expected turns into something more than what was expected. If you want to pack extra, then that is your choice. I prefer to keep as little as is necessary in my pack/on my person.

    #3703248
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    +1 – I carry space blanket for unexpected

    I think the orange side is somewhat reflective, just not as much as the shiny side.  Regardless, put shiny side out

    You can not tell emissivity by looking at it, you have to measure it

    #3704660
    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member

    @scfhome

    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    Stephen,

    Thank you for your article.  It will greatly help with future purchases.

    In the mean time, what I have are called “heat sheets,” for emergencies.   They were what was being sold in the shops when purchased.  The company’s website states:

    “Heatsheets blankets can be used silver side in for cold weather, reflecting up to 90 percent of the user’s body heat back to them. When facing an emergency situation in the heat, Heatsheets can be used silver side out, deflecting heat away from the user to allow the body to stay cool.”

    Would very much like to see your comments about the above.  It does not seem entirely consistent with your article.  Thanks.

     

    #3704696
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    “Heatsheets blankets can be used silver side in for cold weather, reflecting up to 90 percent of the user’s body heat back to them. When facing an emergency situation in the heat, Heatsheets can be used silver side out, deflecting heat away from the user to allow the body to stay cool.”

    Although you didn’t ask me : )

    That reflects a common misperception about space blankets.

    And if the non silver side is less reflective in IR (higher emissivity) then it’s wrong advice.

    If it was hot I think you’d be better off not using space blanket.  At least if you could get in shade.  If not, maybe you could hold the space blanket up so you could get it in its shade

Viewing 24 posts - 26 through 49 (of 49 total)
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