Honeywell-led Team Creating A Portable Device That Extracts Drinking Water From Air

    Joined by NuMat Technologies and Northwestern University, Honeywell will develop materials and a prototype as part of a DARPA clean water program

    PHOENIX, May 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A Honeywell (NASDAQ: HON)-led team has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the United States Department of Defense, to develop a portable device that extracts drinking water from surrounding air as part of DARPA's Atmospheric Water Extraction (AWE) program. Honeywell has selected NuMat Technologies and Northwestern University to add additional expertise to its efforts, which will benefit nonprofits working to bring clean drinking water to people around the world.

    Clean drinking water is critically important to sustain human life, but in certain situations and in large areas of the world, access to potable water is a challenge. In military operations, transporting water is both mission critical and logistically challenging. A device that is small, uses little power and is easy to transport would be highly beneficial to meet the drinking needs of groups and individuals, especially in arid or remote locations.

    "Today, people traveling on foot for military missions or expeditions in remote areas must carry all water needed for their entire journey, which can be extremely burdensome," said Phil Robinson, senior director, Advanced Technologies, Honeywell Aerospace. "Because of this, we're working on a portable and groundbreaking technology to overcome limited drinking water situations. It will be useful for the military, nonprofit organizations working on water availability, or researchers working in remote locations."

    The AWE program intends to provide fresh water for a variety of applications by developing a small, lightweight, low-power system that can extract water from the surrounding atmosphere. If the research and development of this challenging advanced technology are successful, a portable device can satisfy the daily drinking water needs for one person and provide approximately five to seven liters of water per day. Weighing about five pounds and being slightly smaller than a two-liter soda bottle, the device's small size and low weight make it significantly easier to carry than existing products that function similarly. The device uses a newly designed metal-organic framework (MOF) material that extracts water from the surrounding air, working similarly to silica gel packets commonly found in new shoes or clothing.

    NuMat and Northwestern have been selected by Honeywell to develop the new water-absorbing MOF, which will be the key enabler behind the device. The two organizations will collaborate over the next four years to design the MOF, with Northwestern performing fundamental research and NuMat scaling up, producing and supporting device integration of the material.

    "NuMat is very excited to be working with Honeywell on this important project for DARPA," said Ben Hernandez, CEO, NuMat Technologies. "Access to clean drinking water is a global priority, and we believe that MOF adsorbents play an important role."

    Honeywell plans to have an initial prototype built in approximately a year and a half but has already begun work on building parts of the device.

    For decades, Honeywell has conducted research and development work through participation in various DARPA programs. This new initiative will use Honeywell's breadth of expertise in areas such as environmental control and cabin air systems for aircraft. 

    About Honeywell

    Honeywell Aerospace products and services are found on virtually every commercial, defense and space aircraft. The Aerospace business unit builds aircraft engines, cockpit and cabin electronics, wireless connectivity systems, mechanical components and more. Its hardware and software solutions create more fuel-efficient aircraft, more direct and on-time flights and safer skies and airports. For more information, visit www.honeywell.com/us/en or follow us at @Honeywell_Aero.

    Honeywell (www.honeywell.com/us/en) is a Fortune 100 technology company that delivers industry-specific solutions that include aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings and industry; and performance materials globally. Our technologies help aircraft, buildings, manufacturing plants, supply chains, and workers become more connected to make our world smarter, safer, and more sustainable. For more news and information on Honeywell, please visit www.honeywell.com/us/en/news.

    About NuMat

    NuMat Technologies, Inc. is an advanced materials technology company working with leading partners in the semiconductor, healthcare, and industrial sectors to design innovative solutions to some of world's toughest problems. NuMat is a recognized pioneer in the field of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), an important new class of nano-porous materials. MOFs have much higher surface area than traditional adsorbents and can be tailored to interact with specific molecules. NuMat offers a total solutions platform for product commercialization, pairing world-class material discovery software with applications development and manufacturing expertise. www.numat-tech.com.

    Amanda Jensen
    External Communications Specialist