Goodbye Canteens, Soldiers to Be Soon Able to Make Water Out of Thin Air

There's water all around us, but often time we can barely get to it 1 photo
Photo: Honeywell
Available resources have always been the biggest obstacle facing everything and anything humans set out to do. From military operations to space exploration and even our daily lives, resources and everything they entail, from acquisition to transport and storage, have hindered us.
Take a soldier operating in one of the planet’s hot zones, both literally and figuratively. Aside from the tools of his trade, a soldier must also carry with him food and water, at times in large enough amounts to last for days. That often becomes an issue and stands in the way of a possibly longer and more successful mission.

To make life easier for the troops, DARPA announced the Atmospheric Water Extraction (AWE) program a while back. Its goal is to develop the technologies needed to help soldiers create water out of thin air.

As you may already know, in the words of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), “the atmosphere is full of water.” We often get to experience that as rain, snow, or whatever, but we seldom consider consuming it.

Then again, we don’t have an AWE device with us. That is a small, portable system that can extract water from the surrounding air and “can satisfy the daily drinking water needs for one person and provide approximately five to seven liters of water per day.”

The device should weigh about five pounds (0.45 kg) and be smaller than a two-liter soda bottle, making it much easier to carry around than today's canteens. There is only one problem with it. It does not exist.

This week, defense contractor Honeywell announced it would be working with NuMat Technologies and Northwestern University to develop an AWE device. It should take the company about a year to come up with a prototype.

If it all goes well, this personal water-making device could be accompanied by another larger one that could generate the water needed by around 150 people. This one will be more suitable, of course, for humanitarian or rescue missions.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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