novus developed a portable water purifier
Europe Water reuse Point of use-entry

Scottish start-up solves UK army water challenge

Tuesday, 20 December 2022

Scottland-based technology company Novus has developed a portable vehicle-mounted water purifier capable of producing safe, medical-grade drinking water for the UK armed forces. 

Meet Novus

From television to penicillin, tidal energy turbines to the telephone, Scottland has played a significant role when it comes to innovation.

Now Novus has joined the ranks after being commissioned by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to develop a portable vehicle-mounted water purifier capable of producing safe drinking water for the UK armed forces. 

Novus develoed a high-speed, low-energy water distillation unit that can purify water from practically any source, such as seawater, swamps, wells, floods, rivers, and even wastewater.

Roughly the size of two jerry cans, it has no removable parts that need to be maintained or replaced, such as carbon filters or reverse osmosis membranes.

The technology uses high-temperature evaporation to evaporate water vapour, leaving containments behind. This results in medical-grade water, suitable for drinking, field surgery and wound cleansing.

Roughly the size of two jerry cans, it has no removable parts that need to be maintained or replaced, such as carbon filters or reverse osmosis membranes.

A bespoke solution

The project was commissioned by the DASA to reduce the logistical challenges of transporting bottled water, as well as reducing the risk of waterborne disease and ensure a constant water supply. 

On top of these criteria, the new technology will provide DASA with scalable water production, with one water purification unit able to create over 100 litres of clean water per day.

It will also, DASA added, reduce the demand on local water sources and bottled water and reduce the carbon footprint associated with sourcing, transporting and disposing of bottled water, and traditional water purification filters.

Indeed, a solution such as Novus could help in situations in conflicts where water sources have been targeted

Novus demonstrated the water purification technology, as part of a DASA-hosted Demonstration Day in 2021. The virtual event was attended by senior military personnel in the Army and Royal Marines.

Last minutes revisions

During the demonstration, Novus was asked to make revisions to it technology for several uses. 

These included having the water purification technology amphibious vehicle mounted for reconnaissance and extend mission reach, including sea landing, to minimise water transport, and for point of use for humanitarian missions.

"We’ve worked with them [DASA] for over two years now, and most recently they have supported us by introducing Novus and our technology to high-ranking, potential end users within multiple areas of the UK Armed Forces," said Duncan Peters, founder of Novus.

"Their team has not only opened their network but also identified unknown funding options to help us bring our technology to market, and they are always looking internally for new ways to support us at every stage of its development.”