Portable System Purifies Water on the Go

By Valerie Insinna
Ground troops often are stuck in remote locations where clean water is not readily available, creating a logistics problem for dismounted soldiers and Marines who must carry the water they need for a mission.

“It’s a problem to transport water. It’s risky, and it’s expensive.” Water can be $15 to $17 a gallon in Afghanistan and Iraq, said Avi Peretz, co-CEO of WaterGen, an Israeli company that creates water filtration and purification systems.

WaterGen’s new “Spring” portable water treatment unit is a wearable system that can purify water from any freshwater source. It filters water carried through tubes into the 26-pound tank, which can be carried on a soldier’s back. The system can detect water contaminated by microorganisms or pesticides and does not allow it to flow into the reservoir, Peretz said.

The system can filter 14 gallons in an hour, and can create 47 gallons from the power supplied by one standard military deep-cycle battery, he said. “With two batteries, we can hold a platoon or a company for weeks in the field.”

In contrast, a standard jerry can only hold about five gallons of water and weighs twice as much as WaterGen’s purifier. “When the jerry can is finished, you have no water,” Peretz said.
The system recently completed logistics trials with the Israeli army. Other militaries — including the U.S., British and French armies — have expressed interest in the product, Peretz said.

One of WaterGen’s products is already in use by the U.S. Army. Soldiers first employed the company’s ground atmospheric water generation unit — which takes moisture out of the air and condenses it into drinkable water — during the 2011 Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment at Fort Benning, Ga. In August, WaterGen announced it supplied additional units for Army troops in Honduras.

The ground unit needs electricity, temperatures of at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 20 percent humidity to work, Peretz said, but it can make up to 120 gallons of water a day.

“In the Sahara desert, it won’t be so effective, but [in] about 85 percent of the world,” including Iraq and Afghanistan, it would function, he said.

WaterGen also makes a device that can create purified water from the moisture in a combat vehicle’s air conditioner, Peretz said. That system can render at least seven gallons a day. 

Topics: Land Forces

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