Wednesday Tech Talk: Navy Clean Water Initiatives

Paul Armistead manages the Functional Polymeric and Organic Materials basic research program at ONR's Naval Materials Division (Photo: ONR)

Paul Armistead manages the Functional Polymeric and Organic Materials basic research program at ONR's Naval Materials Division. (Photo: ONR)

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is going green! In ONR’s fourth Facebook “Tech Talk,” at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, Dr. James Paul Armistead will talk about advancing how the Navy provides potable water aboard ship – and in its humanitarian efforts – at significant power and cost savings.

Often at sea for long durations, Sailors are surrounded by sea water, some of which is channeled into the vessel’s fire main for use aboard ship – but none of which is drinkable without treatment. In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, author Samuel Taylor Coleridge may have explained it best: “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”

In a multistep process, U.S. Navy vessels screen out debris ranging in size from mollusks to molecules. Well before desalination can take place at the molecular level, large objects are removed in prefiltration. Just like a swimming pool filters, however, prefiltration membranes eventually build up with debris that blocks the flow of water. Chlorine and other disinfectants can clean the fouled filters, but not without damaging the specialized reverse osmosis membranes used in later phases to rid the water of salt.

Next-generation reverse osmosis membranes must withstand the tolls of chlorine and other disinfectants in the fire main. ONR is investigating nontoxic solutions to reduce its cycling of filters and significantly cut back on desalination power and maintenance costs.

Armistead is a program officer in ONR’s Naval Materials Division. He manages the Functional Polymeric and Organic Materials basic research program – which currently has interests in novel dielectric materials for high-density energy storage, organic photovoltaics and nontoxic antifouling coatings for ship hulls – as well as an applied research and development program in Advanced Shipboard Seawater Desalination.

Prior to joining ONR in 2000, Armistead worked in Naval Research Laboratory Chemical Division, where he conducted research on composite interfaces, high-temperature composites and polymer crystallization kinetics. He receive bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, or VA Tech, and a doctorate degree in materials science from Johns-Hopkins University.

Join us for the discussion on this fascinating topic. It’s as easy as this:

1.) Log on to ONR’s official Facebook page.

2.) Look for the prompt to submit your questions.

3.) Submit a question. Questions will be answered on a first-come, first-served basis.

4.) Return at 11 a.m., Oct. 6, to watch as we answer questions in real time.

These interactive 30-minute conversations take place weekly on Wednesdays, leveraging ONR’s presence on Facebook and Twitter to take questions from the general public about our scientific research. More on ONR’s challenge topics (to be featured at the upcoming conference) can be found on our web site at: www.onr.navy.mil/Conference-Event-ONR/science-technology-partnership/2010-CNR-Challenge.aspx