Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Christopher M. Chini, PhD


The Department of Defense (DoD) conducts many remote missions around the globe. As part of any remote basing strategy, potable water needs to be secured. Currently, there are three primary means of procuring potable water at remote locations: bottled water, on-site purification, or tie-in to existing, local infrastructure. The purpose of this study is to determine the environmental tradeoffs of bottled water and on-site treatment via a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU), which uses multiple levels of filtration to make potable water from freshwater or saline water. A cradle-to- gate assessment was developed for both systems to create a consistent model to compare different options for DoD drinking water supply. Data were taken from the Ecoinvent 3.8 database using SimaPro 9.3 software to directly compare the two systems on a normalized scale. Since one system is transported and remains in place for an indeterminant amount of time, the two systems are compared on a 5-year timeline to analyze the long-term environmental impact of repeated bottled water transport versus diesel generator-fueled on-site treatment. Across all impact categories the results indicate that high energy costs of the reverse osmosis process have significantly less impact on the environment than the repetitive transport of bottled water. ROWPU treatment was significantly less environmentally impactful, even considering diesel generators for power, than bottled water on a per-unit basis.

AFIT Designator



A 12-month embargo was observed.

Approved for public release: 88ABW-2023-0373