Military vehicles don’t run without fuel—and warfighters don’t run without water. As little as a six to eight percent water deficit can be debilitating.
As a result, military logistics plans must take into account the approximately three gallons of daily drinking water that each warfighter requires. However, the logistics burden of supplying water to deployed troops is comparable to that of fuel and the economic cost is high.
Even more important is the cost in lives; former Marine Corps commandant Gen. James Conway said in 2010, “We take 10 to 15 percent of casualties among Marines involved in the delivery of fuel and water.”
The Department of Defense (DoD) currently relies on a number of water desalination systems to produce clean water from local sources. These systems help keep supply convoys off the road and allow troops to conduct their missions far from the infrastructure of a military base.
However, all of these systems have size, weight and power (SWaP) constraints that affect their suitability for some missions.
The Lightweight Water Purifier (LWP) is an example of one highly capable desalination system fielded by the Army, able to produce approximately 75 gallons of potable water per hour (gph) from seawater.
This capacity, however, comes at a cost in energy, weight and size. A three-kilowatt generator supplies energy, and the entire 2,000-pound LWP system must be transported on the back of a “Humvee.”