Water takes up to 40 percent of the U.S. Army’s daily logistical load — nearly 55 pounds of water per soldier per day, when medical treatment, meal rehydration and bathing are factored in.
The Army’s latest attempt to cut down on that burden: a set of filters that reuses the dirty, soapy water from field kitchens.
Ordinarily, “pots, pans, utensils and other dishes are washed, rinsed and sanitized in the field with a three-sink food sanitation center that consumes nearly 250 gallons of potable water daily,” notes a press release from the Army’s Natick Soldier Systems Center. “Wastewater is either poured onto the ground, or stored in a tank or bladder for disposal.”
Natick researchers are focusing on two different filter systems instead to recycle the water instead.
The Splitter XD from Infinitex uses spiral-wound membranes… [While a] micro-distiller from Ovation Products Corp [relies on a] vapor compression distillation process… Both processes use a commercial filter to pre-screen suspended solids, are low or no-maintenance, and are as easy to operate as flipping a switch…
Testing proved 85-90 percent of the greywater could be recovered, leaving 10-15 percent of it concentrated sludge for backhauling.
That’s good enough for the Natick folks to start building water recycling into its next generation of field kitchens. But the recovered water still won’t be clean enough to swig. To get drinable water, Pentagon researchers believe, soldiers will be need to pluck it out of thin air — or condense it from their Hummers’ tailpipes.