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Alchemy in the Desert, Diesel Exhaust into H2O

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the lets-just-hope-the-motor-pool-has-a-car-that-works dept.

Science 63

Carl Bialik writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that 'Using technologies developed for the space program, the U.S. Army is conducting an experiment that could convert the exhaust pipes of military vehicles into water fountains.' The idea is meant to help alleviate the logistical challenges presented by two essential army liquids: water and diesel fuel. A soldier in the desert needs about 20 gallons of water a day, for all purposes; 'Water gets to the front in vulnerable, slow-moving truck convoys that require armed escorts, or it is pumped from local rivers, lakes or ponds and purified by heavy-duty filters.' And maybe, in the future, it will also be extracted from diesel exhaust. The president of a company that developed the test technology tells the WSJ: 'This is one of those things where, when you first hear about it, you think the scientists have gone out of their minds. But once you taste the water, you realize the potential.'"

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63 comments

F1rst P05t? (-1, Offtopic)

scheme (19778) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719678)

Could it be a first post?

What about the nasties in the exhaust? (1, Interesting)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719698)

We all know vehicle exhaust is pretty nasty.

Anyone know how the filtration system performs in regards to removing exhaust toxins(benzene, sulfates, etc)?

Grump.

Re:What about the nasties in the exhaust? (5, Insightful)

DasBub (139460) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719784)

I hear that reading the article is generally a good thing to do before posting.

Thanks for playing.

Re:What about the nasties in the exhaust? (1, Informative)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719882)

I did RTFA.

However, TFA only talks about piping the exhaust through a cat and 6 proprietary filters - making it comparable to tap water.

Potable water is essentail for life. However, it doesn't mean there aren't nasties in it still. Fore example, the city water I get is primairly ground water (95%). This water has uranium in it. If this water was piped directly into homes/businesses, it would be approaching acceptable limits. So what is done about the uranium? Dilute it down with mountain runoff!

So just because it's comparable to tap doesn't mean it's all roses and baby farts.

Re:What about the nasties in the exhaust? (1)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719947)

While I grew up in a household that lived off of bottled water until my parents got around to buying an inline filter (we had a well with some minor bacterial problems, drinkable but certainly not Evian), there are plenty of people that don't have the money to waste on bottled water or fancy filters (such as myself now that I'm on my own). They live off of city tap water their entire lives. As you alluded to in your post, there are acceptable limits for contaminants defined by the U.S. government. It wouldn't be piped into peoples' houses if it wasn't within those limits.

In your case, if the Uranium levels were already below the limit (no matter how slim the margin may be) then diluting it should put it at pretty reasonable levels. What actually comes out of your faucet is what is considered "tap water", not the uranium content of the water before it's processed with the runoff water.

As for the article, they are discussing water purification for wartime. It would be highly unreasonable to expect any soldier to be on active duty for more that a few years at most (if your involved in a war more serious than that then you've got bigger problems than whether or not your drinking natural spring water on a regular basis). I think people can handle drinking U.S. city tap water for a few years if they have to.

-GameMaster

Re:What about the nasties in the exhaust? (0)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 8 years ago | (#13720000)

i also did rtfa ... this article is just complete nonsense from the militar point of view:)

if the filter system gets 1 bullet, it's baked and the regular soldiers who can't fix it will just die into water exhaust. maybe a bullet is even overdone, one serious bump on a "good" iraq highway and you're baked. and there is no walmart over there neither to get the spare parts :D. if you go into desert, all you take along should be fixable by you and by simple means.

if they need water, then they better rely on this :
http://wiki.ehow.com/Make-Water-in-the-Desert [ehow.com]

cause every bozo with an m4 and a drawing of this can make it work (unlike the sci-fi water filter).

tehcnology like this could be used for desert travellers, but not for soldiers.

besides, would you drink it ? i wouldnt. as pure as US tap water doesnt say a dong to me. the tap water in new orleans for example should be pretty lethal by now ... so ...

Re:What about the nasties in the exhaust? (3, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#13720230)

You intake uranium every day in your food anyhow, and it's actually a very common element (just not the isotopes used to build nukes). It's in everyone's drinking water. http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/uranium .htm [epa.gov] has some info you'll want to read.

Re:What about the nasties in the exhaust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13722313)

You must be new here

Re:What about the nasties in the exhaust? (0, Offtopic)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719815)

you know what's real nasty? having to use water purification tablets.

oh yeah, a bullet in the head is nasty too.

that firms only reason to exist and get money would be in having a way to purify that water though.

Re:What about the nasties in the exhaust? (0)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719891)

if you really hate tablets, get a real filter. sure it costs a good chunk of change, but I've talked with hardcore hikers and they swear by their filter.

For me, I don't hike enough (heak I stoped ever since my JR year of college), but I just brought about 2 gal of water and it's good nuf for half done wiht pleanty to spare.

Tip: Put a gallon jug about 2/3 full into the freezer a day before departing for a long day hike. The best ice water you've ever drank!

But once you taste the water! (3, Funny)

Muhammar (659468) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719712)

"But once you taste the water, you realize the potential."

Perhaps a coffee flavoring agent for Folger's "value roast" blend, sold for office use only?

Re: But once you taste the water! (2, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 8 years ago | (#13720166)

Perhaps a coffee flavoring agent for Folger's "value roast" blend, sold for office use only?

Not only that it's mil-spec. But one minor problem - when you go to the bathroom it smells like diesel exhaust.

Subject to interpretation (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719757)

But once you taste the water, you realize the potential


This could mean any of the following:


  • Their process uses electrical currents, so what you get when in contact with the water really IS the potential
  • They've discovered a way to turn the pollutants into hallucinogenic substances, allowing them to earn a fortune
  • Same as the above, only they can pipe it into their opponent's water supply
  • Same as the above, only the troops are now berserkers and think they're indestructible
  • They've discovered a way to turn the fumes into something that will make photographs invisible to journalists
  • The water is, in fact, the elixier of life, so forever guaranteeing no US casualties
  • They have discovered a way to fractionally condense diesel fumes which they will patent and use to collect the revenue gained by suing every school in the western hemisphere for having physics or chemistry textbooks

Chlorine? (1, Funny)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719809)

It is quite surprising to hear them say they use chlorine for disinfection as the last step of the process. It does not look like they are using a reverse osmosis device to filter the water, only mechanical and carbon filters and judging from the look of the water color after filtering but before treatment by chlorine, it is not clean at all. Its brown! This would worry me A LOT if I had to drink it. The addition of chlorine to such a mixture is going to immediately create lots and lots of different types of halogenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, ie. extremely nasty and carcinogenic compounds. Why don't they just use a simple inline UV filter instead of chlorine, or better yet, use a high efficency RO membrane for filtration!

Re:Chlorine? (2, Informative)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719884)

From the article:

"From there, the decidedly unappetizing-looking water moves to a series of six "treatment beds," which consist of proprietary carbon filters developed by LexCarb. The first four filters strain out black gunk so that the water becomes amber. The final two filters remove remaining impurities, resulting in water that is as clean, or cleaner, than the tap water of many U.S. cities."

Supposedly, the water is "cleaner than tap water in many U.S. cities" before they add the chlorine solution. The brown color you are talking about seems to exist only mid-way through the series of filters.

As for why they don't use a UV filter. The article later explains that the chlorine is meant to stop bacteria from developing in the water well after the purification process is over. I can understand how UV/RO membrane would kill/catch any bacteria present but I don't think it would stop re-contamination later (honestly, I'm not exactly familiar with how RO membranes work but I'm assuming its a filter that doesn't stick around in the water afterwards).

-GameMaster

Re:Chlorine? (2, Informative)

merphant (672048) | more than 8 years ago | (#13720128)

I used to work for a RO company; essentially the membrane splits salty water into extra salty water ("brine") and clean product water. A simplistic explanation is that the polar water molecules split the salt lattice into ions, which get surrounded by more H20 molecules. This means you get big H20/ion clumps that can't squeeze through the membrane, and a bunch more smaller plain old H20 molecules that do get pushed through the membrane. Typically before the membrane you have some prefilters to get out the bigger chunks like bacteria and stuff. Some modern RO systems can be run off solar panels, which would be ideal in a desert application. See also Wikipedia's articles on reverse osmosis [wikipedia.org] and RO desalinization [wikipedia.org] .

The company I worked for actually had a military contract to see if they could get water from air, using lithium bromide. They had a proof of concept thing done, but they were still working out the bugs when I left.

I think that this is one of the few advantages to having a military with huge amounts of cash; they can fund interesting new technologies that need to actually perform in harsh environments. Although maybe instead of killing people, they could do something more interesting and helpful, like explore the depths of the ocean, or the surface of the moon. Just a thought.

Re:Chlorine? (1)

lemaymd (801076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13721590)

It would be nice if they could transition to less destructive missions or disappear entirely, but at this point (and every point in the future) I think some of our "friendly neighbors" in the mideast and asia would be a little too pleased by that move. :-)

Re:Chlorine? (3, Informative)

DasBub (139460) | more than 8 years ago | (#13720056)

If you re-read the article you'd notice that the amber-coloured water was after four filtering steps, not the entire six.

After the amber stage is reached, it goes through two more filters and then chlorine is added to keep the water from getting funky while waiting to be dispensed.

So chlorine isn't used as a filtering agent, more of a preservative.

Re:Chlorine? (1)

absolutlactam (908853) | more than 8 years ago | (#13721956)

The most likely reason they're not using a reverse osmosis membrane is that it would get clogged in a matter of minutes. The rate at which they want to produce water is much faster than what a small RO membrane can handle. The ones they use to do their 600 gallons a day are fu*king huge, definitely not portable Humvee size.

Re:Chlorine? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#13745226)

halogenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

To quote Colonel O'Neill: "Uh ... what?"

Another preparation for war story (2, Funny)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719828)

First a Slashdot story about U.S. preparations for war: Army Eyes Anti-Sniper Robot [slashdot.org] , then, after two other stories, this story, also about preparations for war.

The mood in the U.S. is violent, and pro-violence, in general, it appears.

Re:Another preparation for war story (2, Insightful)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719988)

Whether you agree with the war or not, it's still natural to want to see the troops overseas get the best equipment we can give them. Unlike Vietnam, even the anti-war movement doesn't blame the individual troops and wish them dead (Honestly, I don't even know how prevalent that opinion was during Vietnam).

Besides, military technology has always been a popular topic of discussion. The U.S. military gets all the neat toys so tech guys want to see what is cutting edge and sometimes the stuff ends up filtering down into the private sector (GPS, HUMVEE, etc.).

The mood in the U.S., as far as I've seen, is no more violent than it has ever been (for better or for worse). The country is pretty evenly split in opinion on whether the war is right. Although, many people that don't think it's a good war still think we should finish the job right rather than walk away and leave Iraq a chaotic mess.

Anyway, two data points do not make a trend. :-P

-GameMaster

Re:Another preparation for war story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13720052)

what?!?! I will kill you for that false statement..

seriously though, thats all most people in the u.s. understands... (due to spending money on weapons instead of education and the space program)

our only hope for this world is China, or somehow the return of the soviet union... (anything to make the US stay home)

Re:Another preparation for war story (1)

PsiPsiStar (95676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13720376)

You seem to think China would be less violent than the US. Take a nice trip to Xinjiang province sometime. There are even fewer checks on Chinese ambition than American.

Make no mistake, the Chinese are playing the Great Game and biding their time till they can become a world power.

Re:Another preparation for war story (1)

coopex (873732) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724070)

You do realize that the US was running around meddling in world politics precisely because we didn't want the USSR to be the only ones meddling, don't you.

The Cold War pwn3d (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 8 years ago | (#13727922)

You must be under 20 and completely uneducated in what happened during the cold war. The USSR didn't make the US 'stay at home'. The USSR made the US fucking bat shit crazy. Everything could go to hell in Iraq, and unless you live there, you wouldn't notice. During cold war though, if JFK had pushed the Soviets any harder during the Cuban missile crisis... well, you would have noticed the big ugly radioactive cloud that would encircle the earth and exterminate all human life. During the cold war everyone and their dog got guns from the US and the USSR to kill each other with. You think the US is meddlesome today and that during the Cold War the USSR kept that meddling in check? Try opening up a history book. The suffering the rest of the world had to endure as the US and USSR fought the Cold War makes these days look like a fucking utopia.

The US is meddlesome to be sure, but kicking over a theocracy and a dictatorship hardly qualifies as the high point in US meddling. I would consider the high point of US meddling being the time when entire world was split between US allies, USSR allies, and the poor dumb bastards in the middle. Me personally? I do not long for the good old days of literally countless military coos, toppled governments, rebels serving as proxy armies, and two nations pointing enough nukes at each other to kill everyone else in the world with just with the indirect radiation cloud and nuclear winter caused if the two ever went to war.

Honestly people, I know it is cool to say the US and Bush = sux0r, but get a fucking grip on reality. This is by not stretch of imagination the worst time in history. It isn't even the worst time in the past 50 years. This is just another minor hiccup that the people will forget roughly as quickly as they forgot the wars the US had in Serbia, Bosnia, Granada, Panama, Korea, Lebanon, exc, exc.

I'll believe anyone intends to give a shit about what is going on right now the second someone shows me that they gave a shit about all the other dozens of wars that have been fought. I am not saying what is going on right now is right. I am saying that wishing for the 'good old days' of the Cold War like it was a time of peace and tranquility is fucking stupid.

Re:The Cold War pwn3d (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13730279)

Well, my memories of a 'poor dumb bastard in the middle' past are that we were less poor and dumb then we are today. Wars were fought only between weak allies of US and USSR (or others who were not either one), but any ambitious move against strong ones (or strong neutrals) was too dangerous to make. There was impression of "Mexican standoff" on the global level. The reality of peace softened "reds" and they almost volunatarily gave in, believing that milk, honey, easy money, rock music and beatiful sofisticated women will pour from the sky. Suckers! There is one born every minute...

Ah, radical left revisionist history! (1)

Engineer-Poet (795260) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730629)

This is just as OT as the parent, but you leave out more than a few pertinent facts:
  • The Soviet Union was one of the most murderous regimes on the planet. It starved millions before the war gave Stalin an excuse for it (read up on "kulaks" sometime); of the ~20 million who died, most of them starved due to forced collectivization and outright stealing of all food from farmers. Anyone who had ever been "wealthy" was deemed a class enemy and sent to a labor camp from which they were unlikely to emerge alive. Being wealthy meant as little as owning a cow or two, even if they were an inheritance or a gift.
  • The Soviet Union allied itself with Nazi Germany, and would have remained so if Germany had not attacked it.
  • After the war, Stalin went back on all his agreements to allow free elections in eastern Europe. Thus, we got more murderous regimes in Poland, the Baltics, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the division of Germany into two states.
  • Until the fall of the Soviet Union, it financed armed aggression (both by states and terrorists, such as the PFLP) against non-communist states. Iraq was a Soviet client state for quite a few years, back when Iran was a US ally. Saddam's tanks were all Soviet built.
You should get the idea. Or maybe you won't, if you've been brainwashed by the "everything the West does is evil/wrong and anyone who opposes it is right and moral" meme spread for years by the crypto (and not-so-crypto) Marxists running academia and a lot of the "progressive" movement (it's a certainty if you think Zinn writes good historical accounts). It's just Soviet propaganda, shambling on with a life of its own after its makers were dead and buried.

Re:Another preparation for war story (1)

lemaymd (801076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13721667)

The US military has always been a prime innovator. Some of the technologies are destructive (that's their primary job after all, to defend the country with force) and many aren't:
  - computers
  - ARPAnet
  - jet aircraft (actually British military)
  - etc. other examples are all around us we don't even recognize.

Notice that many of these probably weren't invented by the military, but the military made them work.

Skeptical! (2, Funny)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719830)

I'd try it, but I'm afraid it'd give me gas! *rimshot*

Alchemy? (3, Funny)

helioquake (841463) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719851)

Alchemy? It seems like the process takes a simple chemical combustion, not atom-altering alchemy.

It's bad when the old chemistry trick is viewed like some kind of magic...
[nontheless, this is a cool stuff, though. Beats drinking my own urine via filtering.]

Re:Alchemy? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13721469)

I'm surprised that people are surprised about this. Where do they think the water that drips out the end of their tailpipe comes from?

Re:Alchemy? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724101)

Alchemy? It seems like the process takes a simple chemical combustion, not atom-altering alchemy.

AAHHH but they didn't tell you about the Transmutation Circle [toysnjoys.com] in the exhaust pipe! ;-)

Re:Alchemy? (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724525)

Beats drinking my own urine via filtering.

No it doesn't! Dune Rulez!!!11!1

-

Re:Alchemy? (1)

fifedrum (611338) | more than 8 years ago | (#13728917)

hmmm, drinking your own urine...

they should hook up a urinal to the inlet of this filtering setup, and add that reclaimed water to the mix. I bet if it cleans diesel exhaust enough to drink, it ought to clean urine just fine.

Chemisery (1)

Engineer-Poet (795260) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730726)

The general formula of hydrocarbons is CH2(n). From this you get:

CH2 + 3/2 O2 -> CO2 + H2O

An interesting thing is that the molecular weight of CH2 is 14, while the MW of H2O is 18; thus, you can recover as much or more weight of water than you supply as fuel. I seem to recall this being used on Zeppelins to replace the weight of the fuel they burned so that they would not have to vent (and later replace) lifting gas, but I am unable to find a reference with Google.

Hope the Terrorists (-1, Offtopic)

countach (534280) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719859)

don't burn their mouths on the exhaust pipes trying to blow up the vehicles...

Moisture farming? (2, Interesting)

rdwald (831442) | more than 8 years ago | (#13719919)

Hamilton Sundstrand...also is completing a $1 million contract for a high-powered dehumidifier the size of a dorm-room refrigerator that can extract water vapor from the air, even in the desert. The Army plans to display the water-from-air box this week in Washington, D.C., at the annual convention of the Association of the U.S. Army, a lobbying and support group for active and retired personnel.

They've invented vaporators!

Re:Moisture farming? (1)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13720007)

Funny, that what I thought of at first too. Too much Star Wars as child I guess. I wonder if this could have civilian application in desert regions like the middle east or the Southwestern United States. I have to imagine that electicity might be a cheaper commodity in desert regions than water.

-GameMaster

Re:Moisture farming? (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 8 years ago | (#13720629)

Speaking of getting water out of air in deserts, it can be done, even in air with little or no water vapor, but is very energy-intensive. Here's how: first, you liquify air. Separate out the hydrogen, then burn it. Condense the water vapor that results. This actually works, but takes a heap o power to run the liquifier compressor/fridgeration unit. The heat from the burning could be used in part to provide some of the compressor power but cannot supply all the energy. In theory, a solar-powered engine could run the liquifier thus requiring no fuel.

Re:Moisture farming? (2, Informative)

Grotus (137676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13722409)

You realize that there is about half of one part per million of Hydrogen in air, right? Since at 32C (90F) the maximum water vapor is around 50,000 PPM, even with a relative humidity of 1%, there is still 500 PPM of water in the air, or 1000 times as much water as Hydrogen.

Re:Moisture farming? (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 8 years ago | (#13722715)

You brought up a good point. But surely the numbers cannot be constant across the globe, but only some idealized average. Also, I would assume that water vapor in a desert will rise, that is, stratification would occur and so air near the ground would be drier. Nonetheless, on researching, I find quoted in various places that the average relative humidity in the Sahara Desert is 25%. Though 'average' is a very loose term in this case. Somehow I still cannot see desert air containing any significant moisture. I'd still say that whether at 500 ppm,or at whatever 25%RH relates to in PPM, some kind of refrigeration stage would be required to extract the water.

Only in Iraq (1)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 8 years ago | (#13720361)

Only in Iraq will you realise the potential as you taste the water.

Re:Only in Iraq (1)

LordEd (840443) | more than 8 years ago | (#13721690)

... and by the time this technology is perfected, the US will STILL be in Iraq.

Not quite like Catalytic Converters? (2, Informative)

tacocat (527354) | more than 8 years ago | (#13720566)

I don't think this will work quite like a catalytic converter, which reduces he emissions into something less nasty. Rather it just extracts chemical H2O from the emissions. I was hoping for news that someone can actually convert the diesel exhaust into something less nasty. That would be a good thing.

Re:Not quite like Catalytic Converters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723835)

I think you may need some remedial chemistry. The principle combustion products of hydrocabons are H20 and CO2. There is no need for any sort of reaction to produce the water. Gasoline engines run much richer than diesels (in general) so they leave more hydrocarbons unburned. In diesel engines the principal contaminants would be things like sulfur oxides from low quality diesel and NOx because diesels run at a much higher compression than gasoline motors.

Re:Not quite like Catalytic Converters? (1)

tacocat (527354) | more than 8 years ago | (#13735637)

Not true. The byproducts are C02 and H2O only if there is complete combustion. This is not and cannot be the case in an internal combustion engine -- this is a fact of thermodynamics of which I'm much stronger than Chemistry.

Catalytic convertors help the process of breaking down the hydrocarbon byproducts into more environmentally compatable compounds. I don't know the specifics, but Carbon Monoxide to Carbon Dioxide is one of them.

If the process was so perfect then there wouldn't be anything like Ozone, Nitrous compounds, and sulfides...

What?!??! (0, Troll)

mnmn (145599) | more than 8 years ago | (#13722051)

"needs about 20 gallons of water a day, for all purposes"

We all know US soldiers are spoilt, but 20 gallons is rediculous. Did the world war 1 solders shower daily? Did the Civil war veterans need Jacuzzis? Its crappy food and rationed water for all other armies, bathe when you run across a river.

"But once you taste the water, you realize the potential."

I'll probably realize the potential too. In fact once I taste THAT water, I'll probably invest in nortel and place advanced orders on Duke Nukem Forever as well.

Re:What?!??! (3, Interesting)

Handpaper (566373) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723174)

You beat me to it.
I would add, though, that throughout the Napoleonic wars, and wherever in the world they operated at that time (including the Caribbean and Mediterranean), the Royal Navy's water ration was "one gallon per man, per day, for all purposes". This was an Imperial gallon, about ten US pints, but it shows what can be done if you try :)

Re:What?!??! (2, Interesting)

sexylicious (679192) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724561)

Yes, and you could always smell the British and French before you saw them. ;)

Actually, in the heat, the Army wants you to drink a gallon every four hours. And living in the high desert in California, I can honestly tell you that just breathing dehydrates you because the air is so dry. And it's not even as hot as the middle east!

I would think the rest of the water is for shaving, face washing, food preparation, coffee, and cleaning. Showers aren't done too often unless you are near a base. Instead you use moist towelletes to clean your pits, genitals, and ass. This keeps bacteria from growing in those places,which can slow a person down tremendously. That is if you elect to, some people get away with not cleaning themselves.

Re:What?!??! (0, Troll)

mnmn (145599) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724841)

What?

Shaving? Out to fight for your country.. and looking awesome.

Towlettes for wiping? Thats new to me.

Food prep? Coffee? thats even more luxurious than my life, all in addition to the paycheck.

If its WAR, its getting people to go and fight. Heck even uniforms are considered too formal, expensive and luxurious for armies in Afghanistan. Youre going to a place where either you or the other person will die. This becomes a matter of life and death. You dont shave, browse the web, drink coffee and watch movies along the way. The survival of the state is also usually at stake, so the soldiers just get by with food, some water (1-2 pints, they usually find more along the way) and MAYBE more shoes if the war drags along for too long.

When the US went to afghanistan to help the 'allied' soldiers, all they were asking for were ammo and shoes. The US gave em nike shoes which you later saw in the time magazines on turbaned men fighting thousands of dediated Taliban, who were much better armed and fed.

The western armies currently are more for foreign policies than actual state war and defence. Soldiers from the US can expect 'peacekeeping' missions in okinawa, kuwait, uzbekistan, italy, germany etc. Theyre just travelling somewhere for the US to make a point. Frequently theyre going to operate computers and tools to work the heavy machinery. Infantry isnt what it used to be.

But for the majority of the worlds armies, its just the survival basics so they wont raze and loot the towns they pass through. They just invest in good weapons. 40 gallons per day IMHO are similar to the US's fuel consumption ratio. Most of it is not needed and just luxury (job perks).

Re:What?!??! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736000)

You clearly demonstrate all command education of an incomplete degree in physics, dating to 2001.

I'm impressed.

Re:What?!??! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736062)

Throughout the Napeleonic wars, the Royal Navy's petrol ration was "zero".

This was the classic zero, as in nil.

Times change and water is used directly (e.g., consumption), indirectly (e.g., medical wound irrigation) or lost (e.g., evaporative, excretia) - logisics factors in those things to arrives at the 20 gallons per man per day number OP is harping upon so ignorantly.

Better fuel efficiency vs. drinkable water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723076)

Drinking water's great but what about simplifying this system a bit (Less filtering? Drop the chlorination) and feeding the output into that box dohickey (which produces pure hydrogen from water and introduces it into the combustion chamber for greater fuel efficiency) that was on /. recently?

If system in this article can reclaim 50% of the fuel volume as water is this enough to get these two systems working in harmony and self sustaining?

It's a crazy idea but I wonder how many technologies are really out there to enhance fossil fuel combustion to an almost green and/or better economical level that just haven't been thrown into a single vehicle yet.

source of water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723350)

I don't know too much about military affairs. Is it common for soldiers to be cut off from a source of water, but not from a source of diesel?

20 gallons? (1)

complexmath (449417) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724438)

A soldier in the desert needs about 20 gallons of water a day, for all purposes

Unless "all purposes" includes taking a shower or using a flushing toilet I'm not sure I understand this estimate. A person in the desert needs to drink perhaps 1 gallon of water a day to stay sufficiently hydrated. Where does the other 19 gallons go?

So I read TFA (1)

complexmath (449417) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724574)

And the bulk of it is for bathing and the like. Amazing. I can understand this for established camps perhaps, but surely they don't bother with this on the front lines? If cleanliness is really that much of an issue, wipe down with a sponge. It'll take half a gallon of water and you'll end up almost as april fresh.

*Turn* it into H2O?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13725204)

Alchemy in the Desert, Diesel Exhaust into H2O

Concidering exhaust from any combustion contains H20, it is simply a filtering process, nothing too special.

super genius idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13726278)

Or maybe we could stop sending our military to desert lands to slaughter the people there?

Then we wouldn't have to worry about this pie-in-the-sky bullshit handwaving garbage thought experiement.

But no, you can't blow billions of the people's tax money if you're doing the right thing, so by all means, let's keep discussing RO filtration units.

In case no one RTFA... (1)

Wampus Aurelius (627669) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731015)

...there is nothing here but a way to capture and purify the water vapor in engine exhaust. No magic, no alchemy. When hydrocarbons are burned, lots of various reactions take place, but most significantly:

C + O2 = CO2, and
H + O2 = H2O

Internal combustion engine exhaust is chock full of that nasty pollutant, dihydrogen [wikipedia.org] monoxide [dhmo.org] . The only new and interesting development here is someone is attempting to perfect a method to capture that H2O in a useable form, at a rate of "one gallon of water for every two gallons of fuel burned."

Twenty Gallons? (1)

Ranger (1783) | more than 8 years ago | (#13741929)

A soldier in the desert needs about 20 gallons of water a day,

Twenty gallons a day? I think not. That's a typo. They'd have to drink almost seven pints an hour over a 24 hour period. This article [wired.com] seems more reasonable in saying they need 3 or 4 gallons a day. The article says two gallons of diesel produce 1 gallon of water chock full of sulfer, benzene, and soot. Yum! Why not just fit the soldiers with Dune style stillsuits? [wikipedia.org] They can drink their recycled pee and sweat. Yum!
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