From wine to water: Vinnovate’s new military invention

By Lauren Ferrone

Would you drink a bottle of dirty water?

It’s a question Josh Schmidt, co-founder of South Australian wine innovation company, Vinnovate, has asked at the Land Forces 2016 conference’s Innovation Pitchfest, where he has just been awarded ‘best pitch presenter’ among a number of other national and international companies in Adelaide today (Thursday, September 8).

Using the same technology as their recent award-winning wine closure that releases a solution to reduce the impact of preservatives or add subtle flavours to wine, Josh and brother, Simon, are now looking to apply the screw-cap closure to treat drinking water consumed by defence personnel.

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Vinnovate brothers, Simon and Josh, are looking to apply their award-winning screw-cap closure to treat drinking water for soldiers

With the aim of extending the time in which soldiers can remain active on field – without the need for supply drops – the boys’ light-weight Self-Sustaining Soldier Bag creates an enclosed treatment and storage environment.

“The bag takes effect through a measured two stage process. As the bag is filled with unsafe water, it is treated with a sachet, the bag closed, inverted and gently shaken,” Josh explains.

“This process binds the particulate matter, and draws it to the bottom of the bag,” he adds.

The ‘clean’ water is then separated, and the Vinnovate closure activated.

“The clean water is then treated, ensuring the removal of any microbial contaminants that may be present.

“The particulate matter can be emptied out of the bag, while the clean water is kept separate, to further reduce the spatial impact on the already laden armed forces personnel.”

According to Josh, the two stage process ensures the water is safe to drink, and the risk of re-contamination eliminated.

“And the reusable bag requires only a new sachet and lid fitment for every new body of water to be treated,” he adds.

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Josh has just won ‘best pitcher’ at the Land Forces 2016 Innovation Pitchfest

The idea originally started as a humanitarian project to give those living in “poor or underdeveloped” nations access to clean drinking water.

It wasn’t long before Josh and Simon thought the application could also be applied to military personnel – many of whom can carry up to 20 kilograms of water while on duty.

Vinnovate is now working with the University of South Australia as a research provider.

There are plans to trial a pilot program – whether in the military space or humanitarian realm – in the next 12 months.

“From there, we can try to engage armed forces personnel or the Red Cross to introduce pilot programs to get an idea what we can actually achieve”

“We’re currently researching and getting the science down; and, while it’s early days, we’re happy to get the idea out there,” Josh says.

“Water is necessary for life. If these soldiers are going to risk their lives for us, then we should at least expect they don’t have to drink tempered waste water,” Josh says.

Vinnovate now seeks interested parties to further develop the device research and collaborate with military to optimise the bag design in line with military specifications.

Land Forces 2016 Innovation Pitchfest provides an opportunity for the Defence Science and Technology Group, academia and industry researchers, and innovators to present new innovations and research projects to a mix of potential customers, research partners and venture capitalists in the defence industry. It is a collaborative initiative by the Defence Science Institute (Victoria), the Defence Science and Technology Group and Defence SA.