The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: treating hypothermia in the field  (Read 2781 times)

Offline martin baker

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
treating hypothermia in the field
« on: 13/02/2006 20:21:50 »

I'm a product design student currently designing a treatment for hypothermia in the field; my proposed idea is a highly portable facemask that contains a mechanism which once activated produces warm, moist air- a recognised treatment for hypothermia. I intend this mask to be small enough to be carried within a first aid kit; subsequently the mask is simple and would be superseded once a more sophisticated hypothermia treatment arrived at the casualty such as the RES-Q-AIR 1000. The mask would buy time for the casualty and prevent core body temperature dropping further.

To this the mask needs to produce moist air (100% relavent humidity) at between 42 and 45 degrees. The mask will contain about 100ml of water

I am unsure as to which method of producing warm moist air is best, I have three options (so far!)...

1st is to burn butane or isobutane as the heat output is high and the fuel takes up little space, but the energy given out maybe too much and hard to control. Also exhaust gases could be a problem.

2nd is a battery run system however im not sure if long run times will be possible although this method is cleaner and highly controllable. The battery I imagine using would be a standard 9v or similar.

3rd is to use a chemical reaction such as co2 with medical soda lime to create the warm moist air. this is what current models use but is bulky and requires carefull setting up.


Martin Baker



  • Guest
Re: treating hypothermia in the field
« Reply #1 on: 13/02/2006 21:23:52 »
Maybe a crazy idea, but what about hydrogen (either compressed, or in a palladium matrix).  Not much energy, but it saves carrying the water, or having to dispose of the waste gases, since they are one and the same.

Another alternative, probably more complex, would be, rather than use a straight forward heater, to use a heat pump.  The patient, while exhaling, is producing warm, moist, air; but simply not warm enough (and maybe not moist enough), and with too much CO2.  If you can use a heat pump (e.g. a Peltier effect device) to capture some of that heat, and then by cooling the exhaled breath, you could also condense out some of the moisture that may could be recycled.

As I said, crazy ideas, but just suggesting whether there might be a nugget of any value in any of them.
« Last Edit: 13/02/2006 21:36:38 by another_someone »

Offline Soul Surfer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3345
  • keep banging the rocks together
    • View Profile
    • ian kimber's web workspace
Re: treating hypothermia in the field
« Reply #2 on: 14/02/2006 11:00:59 »
fuel burning syastems have so much more energy than any alternative.  Have you looked at the catalytic burners and fuel batteries designed by Braun for portable heated hair tongs?  They would be suitably compact, reliable, controllable and produce about the right amount of heat for the job.

Learn, create, test and tell
evolution rules in all things
God says so!

Offline daveshorts

  • Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2583
  • Physics, Experiments
    • View Profile
Re: treating hypothermia in the field
« Reply #3 on: 14/02/2006 11:18:44 »
The other way to go may be some sort of solid that reacts with air like the use once hand warmers. You may have to play with the reaction speed slightly and I am not sure what would happen to them if you got them wet, but they would be very simple, produce about the right temperature, have a nice large surface area to make wet to increase the humidity and cheap if they worked.

Offline Ray hinton

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 476
    • View Profile
Re: treating hypothermia in the field
« Reply #4 on: 21/02/2006 00:39:22 »
i saw something a few years ago on tv, one of these climber/surgeons came up with an inflatable bag to warm the casualty, im sure it was for hypothermia,wish i had paid more attention now. [^]


The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: treating hypothermia in the field
« Reply #4 on: 21/02/2006 00:39:22 »


SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums