NATICK, Massachusetts -- An Army researcher's support to the Marine Corps Systems Command's Integrated Product Team helped transition the Individual Water Purification System Block II to deployed Marines and earn the team a Navy excellence award.

Jeff Dunn, the Integrated Protection Thrust Area Manager at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Soldier Center in Natick, Massachusetts, brought relevant engineering and research expertise to the team, which included members from three different services. Dunn's experience working on water purification technologies for an Army Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) project helped the IPT deliver enhanced capabilities and accelerate the IWPS Block II into a system ready for fielding.

The joint team's efforts were recognized during an October 16 ceremony held inside the Pentagon Auditorium in Arlington, Virginia, where members received the Ron Kiss Maritime Technology Transition Award from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development and Acquisition, Mr. James Guerts. The award citation reads:

"Working together and with their industry partners, they evolved microfiltration technology into a single stage ultrafilter and transitioned this technology into a system within challenging fiscal constraints. This technological upgrade provides a higher quality of water, improved flow rates, negates the need for treatment tablets, negates the wait-to-drink time, reduces fleet sustainment cost, and reduces the logistics support required."

The IWPS is a lightweight, individual water purification device designed to sustain dismounted Marines operating in austere environments where distilled water is unavailable. It allows users to filter contaminated, harmful water into life-sustaining hydration, while eliminating the need to carry or be resupplied with potable water.

The IWPS II is an upgrade to the current version issued to all Marines, and can connect to a Marine's man-packable hydration pack or be used like a straw to drink directly from the water source. The upgraded system also features an internal ultrafilter that removes all types of bacteria, cysts, and viruses from existing water supplies Marines come across in their operating environment, such as lakes, rivers, streams, and puddles.

According to Jonathan York, team lead for Marine Corps Systems Command's Fuel and Water Team in Engineering Systems, the IWPS II also "has the added capability of being resilient to freezing and thawing, removing viruses without the need for chemical treatment and added protection from damage."

By purifying large amounts of water that doesn't need to be carried or resupplied, the IWPS II gives small units an inherent self-sustainment capability, resulting in more autonomy on the battlefield -- something the Army is pursuing through their Soldier Lethality modernization priority.

"I'm really excited to see this capability transitioning into warfighters hands. NSRDEC has continuing R&D investments in individual water purification where we are removing chemical contaminants from fresh water sources while also looking towards the "holy grail" of desalination systems to purify salt water sources," said Dunn.