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H2 Snow

The world's first alpine survival tool that converts snow into drinking water through human power.

  • Working H2 Snow prototype in its operating environment.

  • Video depicting the context and function of H2 Snow prototype.

    Video depicting the context and function of H2 Snow prototype.

  • All prototypes created within the project to date.

  • All components used within the current working prototype.

  • The two main assemblies of the H2 Snow.

  • A selection of sketches used to visualise how individual elements of the design interrelate.

What it does

H2 Snow is an alpine survival tool that melts snow into drinking water via human power. Where adventurers formerly relied on finite/unpredictable resources (gas, electricity, sun) to melt snow, H2 Snow aids alpine survival with its unlimited melting capacity.

Your inspiration

Backcountry snow-sports involve leaving ski resorts and hiking into remote mountainous areas for multi-day, self-supported adventure. A friend broke his leg skiing backcountry and was stranded in the Australian Alps for two nights without water. Snow shouldn’t be consumed without melting it; eating snow promotes dehydration and hypothermia. Adventurers carry minimal water, relying on gas stoves or sunlight to melt snow. In a survival context, gas depletes and the sun disappears, meaning adventurers lack guaranteed access to water. Above all else, adventurers need reliable products. So why are they using finite resources to obtain water?

How it works

H2 Snow is a one litre drink bottle with snow melting capacity. To negate reliance on traditional finite resources used to melt snow, the product is operated by hand. It melts snow by creating heat though friction, and by pulverising the snow through a spinning blade. Operation is as follows: (1) The scoop is detached from the bottle and used to fill it with snow (2) The scoop is inserted into the bottom of the bottle to be used as a handle (3) The user rotates the scoop/handle (4) Simultaneously, silicone fins rotate against the inside of a sealed copper tube, creating heat through friction. A rotating blade is also activated (5) The copper tube (inside the bottle, covered by snow) radiates heat whilst the blade agitates the snow (6) Hello water! Currently, H2 Snow can convert 200g of snow into 100mL of water if operated gently for 20 minutes.

Design process

The project began by identifying human input as the most viable way to generate heat energy without finite resources. Early prototypes focused on what this human input could look like; turning a generator to make heat through electricity, using a bicycle pump to create heat through friction - even harvesting heat from urine was considered. Ultimately it was friction that had the most potential, so efforts were directed at making a mechanism to effectively harness this heat generation technique. These prototypes were made from an assortment of plumbing supplies, household objects, and retrofitted drink bottles. Their input motion progressed from pumping action to smooth rotation as ergonomics came into play. With rotating silicone fins in a copper tube showing promise for heat generation, testing identified a rotating blade was needed to pulverise snow as it was heated. 3D printing was used to create custom seals and linkages for this part. Issues with getting snow into this prototype identified the need for a detachable scoop. To avoid adding extra components, the crank handle was redesigned to double as a scoop, detachable via magnets. The main image displayed is of a working, mainly 3D printed prototype. After 12 months of iteration, it is the most successful prototype yet.

How it is different

From my extensive research, there is currently nothing on the market that is even remotely similar to H2 Snow. No product exists that can melt snow without finite resources. In fact, no product currently exists that has the explicit function of melting snow for drinking water. Adventurers currently melt snow through solutions that are either crude DIY attempts (leaving a black tarp in the sun with snow on it, filling a ziplock bag with snow and putting it one clothing layer away from the body) or use products that are not purpose built (setting up a gas camp stove, melting snow, transferring it into a bottle). H2 Snow is the world's first purpose built snow melting tool that operates without a reliance on finite resources. Where the sun can disappear for days and fuel sources deplete, H2 Snow is a simple solution that works again and again.

Future plans

Short term plans focus on increasing efficiency of the current melting system by increasing heat output and designing a faster spinning, more powerful blade. I will then push the concept further through a new generation of prototypes which are foot operated. Ones legs have the potential for greater energy output than ones arms and I wish to exploit this for maximum snow melting power. A foot operated prototype could also steer away from a bottle and become more of a multi-functional unit - perhaps doubling as a foot pump for inflatable hiking mattresses. Longer term plans focus on optimising the next gen prototypes for small scale production.


Winner of statewide (NSW) award for Best Potential for Intellectual Property Protection and Commercialisation at Shape Design and Technology Exhibition 2016 Overall winner of the statewide (NSW) University of Wollongong Design and Technology Competition 2016

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