US Navy reverse osmosis nears battle readiness

A prototype reverse osmosis (RO) system developed by the US Navy has successfully completed testing for use in the service’s newest class of warship – littoral combat ships (LCS) – designed for use close to shore.

The Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Centre (EXWC) that tested the 20,000 l/d system said it could significantly increase drinking water production capacity and remove elevated levels of particles common in littoral waters.

EXWC commanding officer captain Mark K Edelson said: “Water is a key resource for our warfighters and the ability to convert seawater into freshwater, as these systems will provide, take on even greater importance should these ships see actual combat or be deployed to the scene of a natural disaster.”

The Seawater Desalination Test Facility at EXWC is a test bed for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Future Naval Capabilities Advanced Shipboard Desalination programme.

With funding support from the ONR, the LCS programme will now move to the development of a hardened RO unit for delivery the first quarter of fiscal year 2017.