Potable water from engine exhaust

Simple, lightweight process mounted in a vehicle recovers water from engine emissions


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The nominal daily potable water requirement for a serviceman in a hot dry climate is at least 4 gallons of water, which weighs 32 pounds. A platoon of 44 servicemen will consume over 170 gallons of purified water a day, according to the Navy. The weight of 170 gallons is approximately 1,400 pounds. It is often very difficult to supply this amount of water.

For troops which use motorized vehicles (such as the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee), the water generated by the combustion of fuel can provide all or part of a serviceman’s daily requirement of drinking water. A typical internal combustion engine can produce more than a gallon of water for each gallon of fuel consumed by the engine.

The Army previously developed the Water Recovery Utilizing Exhaust (WRUE) system but it requires refrigeration coils to condense the water as well as a series of filters and other water treatment steps. This is expensive, mechanically complex, and takes up a significant amount of space in the Humvee.

As an alternative, the Navy has designed a system utilizing a liquid desiccant to absorb water vapor from the exhaust. A liquid-gas contactor transfers the water vapor from the exhaust to the desiccant. Then, a reverse osmosis system separates the desiccant, which produces potable water.

US patent 8,182,584 is a divisional of US patent 8,021,542.

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