This army engineer’s suitcase-sized water treatment device could assist during natural disasters

During natural disasters, such as floods, drinking water often has to be flown into remote towns or isolated areas at extremely high cost. Seeing this first hand inspired one aeronautical engineer to develop a solution.

In his day job, Captain Dael Liddicoat, a graduate member of Engineers Australia, works on MRH-90 helicopters at the RAAF Base in Townsville, Queensland. It was this work — which involves aiding disaster relief efforts — that inspired his side project: developing a lightweight water treatment device. 

“Contaminated water supply during natural disasters is a serious concern that quickly falls to assist organisations such as the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to combat,” Liddicoat said.

“I had an idea for producing high-quality drinking water at very short notice in support of soldiers engaging in disaster relief efforts.”

While the ADF has existing water treatment solutions, including reverse osmosis water purification units (ROWPU), Liddicoat said deploying these could be time consuming and made water difficult to distribute.

“My idea is to decentralise water production through the distribution of a number of my lightweight water purifiers, allowing purification of water at the point of need,” he said.

“This would significantly reduce the continued logistics burden of moving water, reduce the likelihood of contaminated water being distributed and allow for extensive and robust planning to be conducted to optimise the positioning of long-term water production plants such as the ROWPU.”

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