This device will allow the marines to make drinking water from thin air

This device will allow the marines to make drinking water from thin air

An army can march on its stomach but it cannot march at all if it doesn’t have enough water. The Marine Corps has been testing a machine that pulls water from the air to ensure its troops are always hydrated. Called the Atmospheric Portable-water Sustainment Unit, when paired with a water purification system it can generate over 15 gallons in a day, or enough water for a squad of marines.

Capt. Sean Conderman, of the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment’s combat logistics battalion at MCBH, told The Honolulu Star-Advertiser that it’s in essence a small dehumidifier paired with a purifier. “We can mount it on any vehicle. It pulls water from the air to give us water without connecting to an actual source.” Conderman also explained to The Star Advertiser that the device would work well in humid environments such as those found across the United States Indo-Pacific Command.

The Corps’ Lightweight Water Purification Systems and the Atmospheric Portable Water Sustainment Unit (or APSU) are paired together to ensure that water it pulls from air is drinkable. This system generates 15 to 20 gallons of drinkable water every 24 hours. Since the Corps recommends “three to four and a half quarts (96-144 fl oz) of fluid per day for men and two to three quarts (64-96 fl oz) for women,” using the high end of the recommendations, the system can sustain 13 men, or 20 women. With variable water consumption rates across people, and production of up to 20 gallons, a single unit could sustain at least one squad, possibly a squad and a half.

Water is essential for military operations. It can make humid environments like the Pacific and other humid areas more favorable. This can free forces from dependence on known streams and allow them to drink from the sky.

Snowbird Water Technologies designed the APSU for military use. It is described as an “Air Water Generator” and “Produces Water from Air.” This APSU is used to produce safe drinking water at the tactical edge.

Snowbird first announced their contract with the military in April 2021, highlighting that the system can fit on the back of trailers or vehicles. The ability to bring a water generator into a field means that water supply is not limited by power or storage.

One possibility is that soldiers and marines could set up temporary camps at remote locations where shipping drinking water would prove too difficult.

As the marine corps ponders its pacific history and considers island campaigns it faces a challenge: resupply. Logistics, the process of getting troops into the field with everything they need is difficult. It is more difficult over sea than in war zones. Even if a marine regiment can provide its own water, it will still need assistance as everything from food and bullets to medical supplies is depreciating in war. The Atmospheric Portable-water Sustainment Unit promises that it can be independent from local water supplies. This could allow the marines to travel longer distances without having to rely on them.

For centuries, the most important constraint for a military was how much food they could carry in the march or forage out in the field ),. This was because it relied on water to stay hydrated.

The ability to bring water resupply to the field expands the range of where an army can move and how long they can operate. Many times, soldiers are desperate for supplies and force them to fight in battle. A unit can choose to raid when it’s most profitable to do so, provided they have at least water resupply.

Kelsey D. Atherton

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