Offutt partners with zoo for wild innovation

  • Published
  • By Chad Watkins
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

The 55th Force Support Squadron’s readiness flight teamed up with Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium to test a portable water desalinization kit Feb. 24, 2024.

The kit is designed to purify and desalinate water from various sources and could be used by small deployment contingencies to service their hydration needs.

“This kit is very impressive in the fact that it is small, portable, and any U.S. military member can pick it up and take it to a combat zone or any other zone to provide water to their comrades,” said Senior Airman Parker McLaughlin, 55 FSS readiness journeyman.

To ensure the kit would meet deployed personnel’s needs, it had to be tested.

“Our biggest concern was making sure that it both purified and desalinated water,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Davis, 55 FSS commander. 

FSS Airmen already tested the kit’s purification capabilities at the Offutt base lake, the next step was to test its ability to desalinate water.

Since Nebraska is not known for its large oceanic coastline, other arrangements needed to be made. Fortunately, the FSS was already working on several projects with the Zoo, and the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium proved to be the ideal place to test saltwater.

“I was very interested in seeing their unit and seeing what it could do, especially as compact as it is,” said Rubin Fields, Henry Doorly Zoo aquarium supervisor. “The application it is going to be used for is even more intriguing.”

The kit can produce up to 14 gallons of drinkable water per hour at ideal conditions.

“As we restrict how much equipment we are taking into combat zones or responding to natural disasters, the less we can bring with us the better,” said Davis. “This kit will allow us to get rid of pallets of bottled water and replace that weight with priority equipment while decreasing resupply requirements.”

Fields continued to express that he was proud that the zoo could do their part to bolster our military.

“It was a pleasure working with these gentlemen,” Fields said. “Hopefully we can work together again.”