Every once in awhile, the billions of dollars dedicated towards U.S. military spending do some actual good. Case in point: this new bacteria-based water treatment unit, developed by researchers at Sam Houston State University and sponsored by Department of Defense cash. The filtration system is portable (it can be transported via truck) and purifies water in less than 24 hours — a marked improvement over standard waste-water treatment processes that can take nearly a month.

sustainable design, green design, bacteria water filter, design for disaster, humanitarian design, water filter, haiti, dod, afghanistan, department of defense, green design

The “bio-reactor” filtration system uses dirt-dwelling bacteria to clean water and munch the resulting toxic sludge. According to the researchers, “The bacteria, the ‘bugs,’ we are working with are naturally occurring. We have isolated a small subset of them–each bacterium has a specific function–and we have engineered a biofilm that is self-regulating and highly efficient at cleaning wastewater.”

The Defense Department has already ordered six of the units, presumably for water-starved military zones in places like Afghanistan. A prototype device may also be sent for immediate use in Haiti, where resources are still critical.

+ Sam Houston State University