Portable Drinking Water Harvesting

  1. Area of Sustainability: Water

    Many regions around the world still lack easy access to clean drinking water. People have to walk vast distances to get water and carry all the water needed for the day on their way back. This is true for military operations too, where access and transportation of clean water in many remote expeditions is a challenge.

2. The technology: Portable drinking water harvesting from the air

  • Honeywell was recently awarded a defense contract to develop a portable device that would harvest water from air droplets to help the military and non-profit organizations (NGOs) around the world to bring clean drinking water to those in need.
  • This device would use little power to sustain an individual’s daily drinking water needs (5-7 liters a day) and weigh about 5 pounds, making it easy to transport. The device will incorporate the metal-organic framework (MOF) technology, which would absorb water particles from the surrounding air to provide clean drinking water.
  • It is estimated that the initial prototype of this device would be completed in a year and a half.
  • The contract was awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the United States Department of Defense. The technology is being developed as part of DARPA’s Atmospheric Water Extraction Program (AWE). Honeywell has partnered with NuMat Technologies (an advanced materials technology company) and Northwestern University to assist with this project. More information here: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/honeywell-led-team-creating-a-portable-device-that-extracts-drinking-water-from-air-301289664.html

3. Stakeholders:

  • Military
  • NGOs in remote or arid regions
  • Research scientists in remote or water scarce locations

4. The first 3 steps in deploying this technology:

  • Compile a list of regions where this technology would be most effective
  • Prioritize a region for a pilot study
  • If the pilot study is a success, distribute this device to military in remote locations around the world

UNI: rm3851


2 thoughts on “Portable Drinking Water Harvesting

  1. This is a cool idea. It is actually a lot in our surrounding that could be use for energy and water efficiency. I saw backpacks with solar panes that are later use to charge laptops.


  2. Thanks for sharing, Rupal! Drought has been the hot topic (again) here in CA this week, so always interested in reading about new water scarcity solutions. I appreciated that the article described the metal-organic framework (MOF) material as similar to a “silica gel packets commonly found in new shoes or clothing” for those of us who aren’t familiar with MOFs and how this tech would work. I also found this explainer (https://www.nanowerk.com/mof-metal-organic-framework.php) on MOFs to be really helpful – I had no idea that their unique structure and ability to selectively absorb specific gases could be so broadly used to tackle environmental issues like water contamination.

    Additionally – to stray a bit from the exact topic – it reminded me of Judith Schwartz’s writings about how water is all around us and a key element of the climate solution (https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2016/12/07/water-in-plain-sight/). Here she writes about collecting large quantities of water in the desert when warm air flows over a cooling roof at night and creates condensation. She points out that “there is always water in the atmosphere, even in the desert and even in a drought” and that solutions are all around us in plain sight.

    Finally, I realize this portable drinking water tech is in very early stages, but I wish the press release had mentioned whether this may have potential to become affordably scalable to the general public – it seems like it could have massive positive impact on the lives of many women and children in poor, drought-stricken regions of the world.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s