Miniature water purification technology ensures safe water for the Armed Forces, anytime, anywhere

  • Novus has developed a high-speed, energy-efficient, mobile and vehicle-mounted water purifier capable of producing safe, medical-grade drinking water
  • Funded through the DASA Open Call, Novus innovation provides Armed Forces with a boost for Force Protection and self-sufficiency
  • Post-contract support from DASA’s Access to Mentoring and Finance (A2MF) Team is preparing Novus for future investment and market readiness.

Clean drinking water is essential for Armed Forces personnel in the field and vital to the success of any military or humanitarian mission. However, the transport, delivery and supply of water is a huge logistical burden.

Additionally, natural sources of clean water are hard to find, especially in austere environments, where rivers, wells, and lakes often contain harmful contaminants that are difficult to remove with traditional water purifiers.

The lack of readily available clean water not only presents strategic and operational challenges for military personnel, but can also greatly reduce mission effectiveness due to illness and dehydration, while increasing avoidable pressure on installations and the medical staff.

Introducing Novus: specialists in water purification

Scotland-based Novus has received funding from DASA to develop its high-speed, low-energy water distillation unit that can purify water from virtually any source, including seawater, marshes, wells, floods, rivers and even sewage. .

Novus technology uses innovative high-temperature evaporation techniques to evaporate water vapor left behind by containments, resulting in medical-grade water suitable for drinking, field surgery, and wound cleansing.

The purification device is also small, about the size of two drums, has low power requirements, and has no removable parts that need to be maintained or replaced, such as carbon filters or reverse osmosis membranes.

The technology will not only reduce the logistical challenges of transporting bottled water, it will also reduce the risk of waterborne diseases affecting mission success and ensure a constant supply of clean water.

Technology can help Defense by:

  • allow staff access to clean, safe water in the field, regardless of the quality of the water source
  • improve the resilience of the force by reducing the logistical burden of transportation and relying on convoys of bottled water
  • enabling scalable water production, with a water purification unit capable of creating more than 100 liters of clean water per day
  • promote sustainability by reducing demand for local water sources and bottled water
  • reduce the carbon footprint associated with sourcing, transporting, and disposing of bottled water and traditional water purification filters

Making a big splash: from a novel idea to a live demo

Novus began developing the water distillation technology in 2018. They were at an early stage of development and had successfully tested the technology at the University of Edinburgh, but had a long way to go to achieve a final product.

Novus began their journey with DASA after a meeting with Innovation Partner, Scotland, Dr. Debra Carr, who encouraged them to submit their idea to DASA’s Open Call for Innovation. His proposal was successful, and Novus received funds to miniaturize the technology for military use.

At the end of the project, Novus demonstrated the water purification technology as part of a Demonstration Day organized by DASA in 2021. The virtual event was attended by senior military personnel in the Army and Royal Marines, who witnessed of innovation in action and were impressed by its abilities to meet the challenge of miniaturizing water purification capacity, ensuring self-sufficiency of military operations, and meeting humanitarian challenges. Additional feedback from Demo Day revealed broader case uses for the technology, such as:

  • a vehicle-mounted drinking water purifier to extend reconnaissance or mission reach
  • a landing stage and a drinking water purifier mounted on an amphibious vehicle to minimize water transport
  • a portable, modular and scalable water purification unit for potable and medical water at the point of use for humanitarian missions
  • a Royal Navy backup water purification unit for patrol vessels and offshore patrol vessels (OPVs)

The DASA Demo Day had a huge impact on Novus, highlighting the interest of end users and giving them credibility to further develop the technology. It also provided a central direction in which they can direct development technology to meet a clear product design specification.

Duncan Peters, Founder of Novus said:

“The DASA team has been the most supportive I have worked with in my 12-year career as a startup. His team is high-energy, engaging, proactive, and always has our best interest in mind. We have worked with them for over two years and more recently they have supported us by introducing Novus and our technology to potential high-ranking end-users within multiple areas of the UK Armed Forces.

“This would not have been possible without DASA and has resulted in demonstrable support for our technological development. His team not only opened up 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. We’ve learned that the MoD really wants to fund new innovations, and working with DASA has been like having an extra team member, sitting remotely within the framework of the MoD.”

As a result of DASA’s support, Demo Day, and direct feedback from potential end-users, Novus is focused on developing a solution that helps long-range reconnaissance teams expand mission capability and self-sufficiency. Novus worked with military stakeholders to take the product to its next phase, towards end-user testing, where they successfully received a second round of funding from DASA, after they submitted their idea to the 2021/2022 open call.

What’s Next on the Way: Investment Showcase

Novus is using the DASA funds to further develop the technology into a commercial solution by making the user experience more intuitive, to further the growth of the company, and to develop more variants of the miniaturized water purifier. They are also expanding their engineering and manufacturing team in Scotland, with the aim of improving their supply chain and commercial capabilities, to meet market interest.

Additional post-contract support from DASA’s Access to Mentoring and Finance (A2MF) Team is preparing Novus for future investment and market readiness, and supports the military procurement navigation that brings project product to commercial offering.

As part of this development, the A2MF team is preparing Novus for the DASA Investment Showcase at the end of November 2022, where innovators will present their businesses and novel ideas to investors.

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