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Low Power Water Purification System


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Materials/Processes


ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PM Combat Support Systems (CSS), Family of Water Purification Systems


OBJECTIVE: Development of a Squad level (13 Marines) water purification system (8 gallons/hour) capable of purifying water sourced from any location with a low to zero energy consumption while maintaining the purification standards in TB MED577 (Ref. 1).


DESCRIPTION: Purification of locally sourced water is critical to reducing the logistical supply lines of forward deployed Marines. Large, Battalion sized (Ref. 2), water purification systems exist within the Marine Corps which are capable of purifying water from any source. However, purification of water at smaller force structures can be difficult as space allocations, weight restrictions and available energy sources are limited. The present method of supplying water at the Squad or Platoon level (43 Marines) is to air-drop bottled water or by trucking water purified or produced at a Forward Expeditionary Base (FOB). The process of desalinization is viewed as being one of the highest power demand processes in water purification systems. Desalination of water obtained from any source to support Squad or Platoon operations remains a significant technical challenge. Commercially available water purification systems operate on a much smaller scale and are only able to handle low-salinity (brackish) sourced water. These systems are not scalable and would require an external generator to provide the power necessary to facilitate the desalination process. Innovative research has been performed in nanophotonic effects allowing for high efficiency direct solar membrane distillation, which could allow desalination of water at resource limited locations (Ref. 3). This process holds the potential to greatly increase typical desalinization permeates yields, while decreasing desalinization energy expenditures. This is one example of basic research that could be applied to water purification to increase efficiency of the systems. Successful development of this concept would allow the Squad to facilitate a greater level of selfsufficiency increasing the Commander’s flexibility to deploy this size force. Being able to purify water locally reduces the total cost of supplying water compared to constant resupply of bottled water. In addition, the reduced fuel consumption will reduce the life cycle cost of the water purification system.

The Marine Corps is interested in innovative approaches in the development of a water purification system for Squad sized forces. The Squad sized system should be able to purify 6-10 gallons/hour, weigh no more than 10 lbs, and have a volume of less than 1.5 cubic feet. Of particular interest are approaches which can be scaled to handle Platoon level purification of 12-30 gallons/hour (up to 90 gallons/day) from salt water sources, weigh no more than 84 lbs. and have a volume of less than 15.5 cubic feet. The Marine Corps is required to fight in any location and be highly expeditionary and proposed concepts must be very mobile, surviving transport over rugged terrains (Ref. 2, 4). They must also be usable in any climate the Marines operate in, including desert, jungle and temperate climates as spelled out in MIL-STD-810G (Ref. 4). Concepts proposed must include an automatic water quality test capability and method for providing visual indication (a simple go/no-go indication) as evidence that the water source has been purified to an acceptable level (Ref 1). Concepts should also be operable by a single individual who does not have water quality certification or training. In addition to being able to purify a wide variety of contaminated water sources, proposed concepts must be energy efficient to help reduce the logistical fuel burden on the expeditionary forces while minimizing the need for energy from batteries or other fuel sources (less than 100W during contaminated water purification) and must not require excessive operator mechanical energy for operation.


PHASE I: The small business will develop concepts for an improved water purification system that meets the requirements of the Description section above. The small business will demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs and will establish that the concepts can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Analytical modeling and simulation may be used to demonstrate feasibility. The small business will also articulate a plan for Phase II development that identifies performance goals, key technical milestones, and, as appropriate, any technical risk reduction strategy(ies).


PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II contract Statement of Work (SOW), the small business will develop and deliver a prototype water purification system to the USMC for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II SOW and the Marine Corps requirements for water purification as discussed in the Description above. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation over the required range of parameters as discussed in the Description above. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into a final design. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Marine Corps use.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: If Phase II is successful, the small business will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning the water purification system technology for Marine Corps use. The small business will develop a plan to determine the effectiveness of the new water purification system in an operationally relevant environment. The small business will support the Marine Corps for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use. As applicable, the small business will prepare manufacturing plans and develop manufacturing capabilities to produce the product for military and commercial markets.


KEYWORDS: water purification; desalination; water supply; expeditionary support; disaster relief

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