GE Developing 3D Printed Device to Convert Air into Water for US Military

By: | February 12th, 2021

Image courtesy: GE Research

Scientists from GE Research have been selected by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to lead a multi-million-dollar project.

They got the contract to develop 3D printed devices that could collect moisture from the atmosphere and convert it into drinking water. This project is a part of DARPA’s Atmospheric Water Extraction (AWE) program.  It is going to address water scarcity around the world and supply water to the troops while in a war field. 

The prototype will capture potable water from the air in quantities sufficient for up to 150 soldiers, even in extremely dry climates. The team has named this project ‘AIR2WATER’.

Science behind:

The device will use heat exchange principles to draw water from the air. The main technologies used are:

  • Sorbent materials to absorb the air.
  • 3D-enabled design of heat exchanger that efficiently draws in heat over the sorbent materials for capturing the water.

Now researchers from the University of Berkeley and the University of South Alabama are searching for the perfect sorbents. These are the materials that can extract water without absorbing it.

Following are some of the features of AIR2WATER’s U.S. Military prototype:

  • This highly compact and portable device can produce clean, safe water out of thin air. 
  • Unlike standard dehumidifiers that are bulky, this device is light enough to be lifted by just four people.

Dave Moore, Principal Investigator at GE Research, said, “Today, the logistics and costs involved with transporting water are staggering and in dangerous war zone areas, result in casualties. By creating a highly portable, compact device that efficiently extracts water from the atmosphere, we can save lives and ease the logistical and financial burden for our armed forces.” 


Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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