The Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC) completed tests on a prototype reverse osmosis (RO) system for the Navy’s littoral combat ships (LCS) in February.
The Littoral Combat Ship Program Office (PMS 501) will move forward with funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for development of a hardened Reverse Osmosis Unit with a media filter and cartridge filter pretreatment capable of producing 4,000 gallons of water per day. The current baseline RO units aboard the LCS produces 2,000 gallons of water per day and use cartridges filters which are prone to rapidly fouling in the littorals.
“The RO systems being developed for the Navy’s littoral combat ships will enable their crews to have access to fresh water at all times,” said NAVFAC EXWC Commanding Officer Capt. Mark. K. Edelson. “Water is a key resource for our warfighters and the ability to convert seawater into fresh water, 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.”
NAVFAC EXWC provided design guidance and conducted extensive testing measuring the water quality, maintenance and energy consumption of the media filter RO unit.
The Seawater Desalination Test Facility at EXWC served as a test bed for the ONR Future Naval Capabilities (FNC) Advanced Shipboard Desalination program. EXWC is also part of an integrated product team which includes representatives from Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), ONR, Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock, the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and the Bureau of Reclamation.
Test results demonstrate that the unit can significantly increase drinking water production capacity; effectively remove elevated levels of particles common in littoral waters; reduce overall energy and maintenance; and allow operations in littoral zones.
The command will continue parametric specialized testing of the prototype unit, and an ONR vendor will be contracted to produce the actual hardened unit.
EXWC expects to receive the hardened RO unit in the first quarter of fiscal year (FY) 17 and will conduct an additional 30 days of testing on seawater. The unit will eventually transition to a shipyard environment for a six-month test on a deployed LCS. The technical data and performance obtained from new RO units will allow PMS501 to proceed with upgrading and modernization of the LCS water purification system.
NAVFAC EXWC is the Navy’s premier activity for facilities and expeditionary technology solutions, engineering services, equipment logistics and products needed to equip the fleet and meet warfighter requirements. NAVFAC EXWC also delivers specialized engineering and technology solutions that support sustainable facilities and provides logistics and expeditionary systems support for Navy combat force capabilities.