A system developed by researchers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate, would help bring water to soldiers in the field, either cool or heat it, and then keep it that way for days at a time.
The system revolves around a high-stress collapsible water bag, a beverage cooling unit, and an insulated bag that holds the standard five-gallon water can or the collapsible water bag.
“Everything works together,” said Ben Williams, with Combat Feeding’s Systems Equipment and Engineering Team, or SEET. “You don’t need to use everything together, but you can.”
The system resulted from an effort to improve the standard five-gallon water can by giving it more capability.
“We didn’t have a lot of money,” said Shubham Chandra, who works with Williams at SEET. “We started working with what was out there.”
As Williams pointed out, getting soldiers to hydrate sufficiently in extreme temperatures, such as those encountered in Afghanistan, has always been a challenge.
“People aren’t drinking enough because their water is 100 degrees,” Williams said. “It’s not pleasurable. But if it was 40-degree water, of course you’d drink more. Your stamina also increases.”
The water bag was developed after a request from the theater to replace the standard water can.