Story by Edward Shank on 11/20/2018In a ceremony held at the Pentagon Oct. 16, Marine Corps Systems Command's Expeditionary Water Systems Team was recognized for its creation of a water purification system that is now being issued to deploying Marines.
Designed to enable deployed warfighters to filter contaminated, potentially harmful water in austere locations around the world, the Individual Water Purification System-Block II was developed by the Marine Corps and the Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, after more than 14 months of research and commercial off-the-shelf product testing. For their efforts, the team was presented the Ron Kiss Maritime Technology Transition Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement resulting in the successful transition of a new technology that addresses an emergent requirement or operational need.
"The new system allows Marines to purify fresh water like the legacy system," said Johnathon York, team lead for the Fuel and Water Team in Engineer Systems. "Unlike the Block I system, however, this version has the added capability of being resilient to freezing and thawing, removing viruses without the need for chemical treatment and added protection from damage."
"The best way to compare the two is to use internet technology," said Capt. Jeremy Walker, Project Officer for the initiative. "Dial up internet works just fine, but wireless is faster, easier to use and more reliable.
"Block I is the dial up internet of individual water purification. It requires a 15 minute chemical pretreatment with Iodine or chlorine dioxide tablets. Because of the pour size of the ultrafilter, Block II does not require chemical pretreatment and has an extended service life, which reduces sustainment costs on the fleet."
The IWPS Block II is intended for issue to deploying Marines within the Ground Combat Element as well as other units including Radio Recon Platoons. The system can easily be stored and carried in the existing USMC pack system and used in-line with the issues USMC hydration carrier as well as with the new collection back, enabling Marines to collect water quickly and move to a safe location for purification. In emergency situations, the filter can also be used as a straw, which allows the Marine the ability to drink directly from the puddle, lake, pond or stream while reducing the risk of contamination.
"This filter allows us the ability to extend our reach without the need to resupply water," said Walker. "At eight pounds per gallon, water is a very taxing logistics requirement on the foot-mobile Marine. This system allows us the ability to move farther, longer and lighter."
With Block II ready for fielding, the water purification team is now focusing its attention on a Squad Water Purification System. The SWPS is a low-to-no power system that purifies brackish water found in tidal basins and littoral areas and weighs less than five pounds.