DOD SBIR 24.4 Annual

Active
Yes
Status
Open
Release Date
October 3rd, 2023
Open Date
October 3rd, 2023
Due Date(s)
March 31st, 2025
Close Date
March 31st, 2025
Topic No.
HR0011SB20244-02

Topic

Atmospheric Water Extraction Plus (AWE+)

Agency

Department of DefenseN/A

Program

Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024

Summary

The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the topic "Atmospheric Water Extraction Plus (AWE+)" as part of its SBIR program. The objective of this solicitation is to develop novel atmospheric water extraction technology with potential for energy use below 100Wh electric per liter of water generated across a wide range of environments. The technology should be integrated into a proof-of-concept prototype producing potable water with a clear path to full-size implementation. The DOD has a critical need to reduce water resupply requirements for mobile and self-sufficient operations. The development of AWE+ technology will have important tactical implications, reducing casualties and costs in forward operating environments. The goal is to provide potable water for a range of military needs by developing low-power, distributable systems that can provide water anywhere, anytime, and without the need for any external liquid water source. DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is specifically seeking teams with innovative means of releasing water from sorbents which is cyclically stable and has very low energy requirements. The technology should be able to produce water with not more than 100Wh electricity per liter of water produced, and not more than 100Wh thermal energy per liter of water produced. Proposals should outline a plan for reaching these energy metrics and provide an estimate for the range of environmental conditions at which the devices could operate. The project will be conducted in two phases. Phase I is a six-month effort focusing on proof-of-concept material and release mechanism development. Phase II is a 24-month effort with a base period of nine months, followed by two option periods. The performers will be expected to demonstrate functionality of their water capture and release mechanisms in a laboratory environment, producing at least 100mL of potable liquid water over a six-hour period with minimal loss in performance. The ultimate goal of this effort is to demonstrate AWE capable of meeting potable water needs for expeditionary scenarios with extremely high efficiency. Phase III will focus on transition within the DoD/military and further commercialization of the technology. Potential applications include satisfying military expeditionary water needs, reducing logistical footprint and vulnerability of supply lines, and developing next-generation dehumidification systems for residential and commercial HVAC. Keywords: Atmospheric water extraction, atmospheric water capture, atmospheric water harvesting, sorbent materials, advanced manufacturing. For more information and to submit proposals, visit the DOD SBIR 24.4 Annual solicitation notice on grants.gov or the DOD SBIR/STTR Opportunities website. The open date for proposals is October 3, 2023, and the close date is March 31, 2025.

Description

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S):  Advanced Materials

 

OBJECTIVE: AWE+ seeks to develop novel atmospheric water extraction (AWE) technology with potential for energy use below 100Wh electric per liter of water generated across a wide range of environments. Integrate the technology into a proof-of-concept prototype producing potable water with a clear path to full-size implementation.

 

DESCRIPTION: There is a critical DoD need to separate the warfighter from the supply chain as the military moves towards more mobile, flexible, and self-sufficient operations, including the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO, U.S. Marine Corps), the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO, Army), and the Agile Combat Employment (ACE, U.S. Air Force) concepts. Reducing water resupply requirements through the use of AWE devices will have important tactical implications and have a significant impact on the reduction of casualties and costs, especially in forward operating environments. The goal of developing AWE+ is to provide potable water for a range of military needs by developing low-power, distributable systems that can provide potable water anywhere, anytime, and without the need for any external liquid water source (e.g., groundwater, seawater, rivers, lakes, etc.).  Although many technologies for meeting these needs have been developed, prototypes and production units lack the energy efficiency desired by the DoD to make them truly “game-changing” devices.

 

DARPA seeks to develop novel systems capable of producing water with very low energy input across a range of ambient conditions using sorbent materials. A key challenge of sorbent materials is releasing water from saturated sorbents. DARPA seeks teams with innovative means of releasing water from sorbents which is cyclically stable and has very low energy requirements (e.g. photo-switching, compressive release, multi-stage liquid desiccant distillation). Proof of concept material development will take place over Phase I. Performers will then focus on scaling up material development and doing basic device design activities (Phase II Base Period). Further investment will support integrating the novel materials into a functioning device, capable of producing water on its own (Phase II Option Periods). 

 

DARPA is not seeking proposals related to direct thermal or vacuum release of water from sorbents or traditional refrigeration cycle devices. Devices may not credit the use of any energy sources other than electricity or direct heating. Specifically excluded are solar thermal heating and human interventions. Proposals which do not comply with these conditions will be considered non-conforming and may not be evaluated. Devices should conceivably be able to reach the following energy metrics at a variety of environmental conditions:

Not more than 100Wh electricity per liter of water produced; and
Not more than 100Wh thermal energy per liter of water produced; or
If desired, performers may trade off one watt-hour of electricity for three watt-hours of thermal energy. For example, a device which required 80Wh electricity and 160Wh thermal energy per liter of water would be considered acceptable.

 

Proposers should clearly outline their plan for reaching the desired energy metrics and provide an estimate for the range of environmental conditions at which their devices could operate.

 

PHASE I: Phase I is a six-month effort focusing on proof-of-concept material and release mechanism development. Fixed payable milestones should include at a minimum:

 

Month 1: Kickoff meeting and initial report on the status of performer design/engineering work and approach for meeting project requirements.
Month 3: Initial material synthesis and water or steam production in a laboratory setting.
Month 6: 
	
		Report showing the results of laboratory testing, demonstrating that the material and release mechanism are likely to be cyclically stable and produce potable water at a variety of environmental conditions. 
		Conceptual design of a device incorporating the material and release mechanism with estimates for specific energy consumption (energy per kg water), broken up by thermal energy and electrical energy inputs.
		   Performers will also deliver a schedule for their planned actions during Phase II.
	

 

Proposers may include additional milestones. If proposers choose to include additional milestones, they are encouraged to review the “Important Notes” section below the Milestone Chart in the cost proposal template.

 

In addition to reports described above, performers shall have quarterly telecons with DARPA.

 

PHASE II: To bound the scope of the effort while affording the maximum flexibility for technical innovation, a successful proposal will address overarching technical objectives using performer-defined metrics and milestones over the course of 24 months. Execution of this project will take place over a nine (9) month Base Period, with the option to extend via a nine (9) month Option I period and a six (6) month Option II period. Each period of performance will end in a Readiness Test with increasing technical difficulty as the project continues. Proposals should outline a work plan to technically advance their AWE systems to meet all requirements set forth in the Base, Option I, and Option II end-of-period challenges. Proposers should identify at least one (1) deliverable per month to meet incremental technical milestones to sufficiently advance their technology to meet end-of-period challenges.

 

Base Period 

Performers will be expected to demonstrate functionality of their water capture & release mechanisms in a laboratory environment, producing at least 100mL of potable liquid water over a six-hour period with minimal loss in performance. Milestones for this period should include:

 

Month 3: Performers shall submit a preliminary design for an integrated prototype system with sorbent & release systems, which produces at least 1L/day without manual intervention.
Month 6: Performers, if using a novel sorbent, shall demonstrate production of at least 1g batches of the sorbent material.
Month 9: Production of at least 100mL water from the performer’s sorbent and release mechanism, produced within six hours over multiple cycles, with minimal degradation reported between cycles. DARPA observers may be present for the test. A report on energy use during the test, and an estimate for size, weight, and power in a scaled-up optimized system at various ambient environmental conditions.

 

In addition to reports described above, performers shall have quarterly telecons with DARPA.

 

Option I  

If selected to continue, performers will be expected to produce an integrated prototype combining their capture & release mechanisms. This prototype should be capable of producing at least 40mL of potable liquid water per hour at the DARPA condition. Milestones for this period should include:

 

Month 3: Performers shall complete a final design for the 40mL/hr prototype device and order long-lead components.
Month 6: Performers shall complete modelling showing anticipated operation of the prototype and a hypothetical scaled-up device across a range of operating conditions.
Month 9: Demonstrate 12-hour prototype operation with minimal manual interventions, producing at least 40mL water per hour. Testing should be done at 70°F and the lowest relative humidity practical to meet production goals. DARPA observers may be present for the test.
Produce a report on energy used by the prototype and the quality of water produced. Update size, weight, and power estimates for an optimized & scaled-up device.

 

In addition to reports described above, performers shall have quarterly telecons with DARPA.

 

Option II

If selected to continue, performers will advance the technology readiness level and optimization of their devices during the Option II Period. Milestones for this period should include:

 

Month 3: Performers shall submit a design for a modified prototype with improved energy efficiency and capable of operating for at least 30 days.
Month 6: Production of at least 1 liter of potable water per day over a continuous 4-day test run with minimal manual interventions. Testing should be done at 70°F and the lowest relative humidity practical to meet production goals. DARPA observers may be present for the test. A report on energy use during the test, and a preliminary design for a production-ready system. This design should include estimates for size, weight, and power.

 

In addition to reports described above, performers shall have quarterly telecons with DARPA.

 

Phase II Enhancement: Phase II awards under this topic may be eligible for a Phase II Enhancement. Performers are encouraged to visit https://www.darpa.mil/attachments/DARPA-SBIR-STTR-Phase-II-Enhancement-Prgm-Instructions-122222.pdf for more information and instructions on Phase II Enhancements.

 

 

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS:  The end goal of this effort is to demonstrate AWE capable of meeting potable water needs for expeditionary scenarios with extremely high efficiency. Phase III will be oriented toward transition within DoD/military and further commercialization of the technology. The proposer is required to obtain funding from the private sector OR a non-SBIR/STTR Government source. This is to develop the prototype technology into a viable product or service for sale (e.g., a deployable, ruggedized, user-friendly device) in military or private sector markets. The following are the potential commercial and DoD/military applications and use cases:

Satisfy military expeditionary water needs to reduce logistical footprint and vulnerability of supply lines. Reduce the carbon footprint of logistics-related military infrastructure needs 
Develop next-generation dehumidification systems for residential and commercial HVAC

 

KEYWORDS: Atmospheric water extraction, atmospheric water capture, atmospheric water harvesting, sorbent materials, advanced manufacturing

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