WHIX – Western Hemisphere Information Exchange
The Western Hemisphere Information Exchange Program (WHIX) is designed to strengthen alliances and partnerships in the Western Hemisphere by facilitating information exchange in the areas of Installations; Environment, Safety and Occupational Health; and Energy Management ; It supports Defense Security Cooperation goals by promoting information exchange between the US Army and the military organizations of the Western Hemisphere, as well supporting US Southern Command objectives of security, stability, prosperity and advancement of science and technology objectives within their partner nations.
In June 2003, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment (OASA-I&E) initiated a four-year project to develop the Western Hemisphere Information Exchange (WHIX) Program with the support of the Applied Research Center (ARC) at Florida International University (FIU).
The WHIX program provides catalyst technologies in renewable energy and the environment which stimulate development and interaction between partner nation militaries, government organizations, universities and private organizations and non-governmental organizations. The program demonstrates renewable energy/environmental technologies, validates their performance and sustainability under field conditions, then invites participants to explore and develop future uses of the technologies under sustainable regional programs. To date the WHIX program has delivered the following:
The 2003 WHIX project provided 32 “As Is Profiles” and 32 additional updates base-lining environmental and renewable energy agreements, the status of current technology and implementation policies throughout the Western Hemisphere. In addition, the WHIX program produced 15 Technical Papers, the first of which, Brazilian Biofuels: Military Applications and Potential for Engagement and Cooperation, provided a baseline for the US Army and US Southern Command to develop a biofuels project with Peru and Panama in support of the President’s Renewable Energy Program.
The WHIX 2004 program developed two 50KW BioMass Gasifier Systems for El Salvador that are being used to provide 100KW of electrical power and thermal energy for the military by burning waste agricultural biomass, such as coconut shells. The installation and research on the unit provided data that supported commercial viability of the systems to power remote or isolated military units at comparable costs to commercially generated electrical sources. In addition, the heat source provides hot water for cooking and laundry services during field operations in remote areas. Information on the use of these systems in El Salvador led to increased military interest and potential use of this technology, in particular from the Chilean Air Force and Science Community who are now exploring with FIU the possibility of using these systems or other renewable energy solutions to power the science stations in Antarctica, reducing logistics and pollution of fossil fuels.
In addition, the 2004 project developed a tropical constructed wetlands—one of the first of its kind, to treat 44,000 gallons of sewage per day, using native plants to remove contaminants. Results show that the systems can be adapted for environmental treatment of military installation sewage, without the use of chemicals, and provide a safe environment for wildlife, especially in remote, environmentally sensitive areas. Implementation of these systems would eliminate logistics in support of sewage treatment, and reduce the storage and costs of potentially dangerous chlorine chemicals, while providing clean water for irrigation, and use of the plants for commercial use such as animal feed, or biomass gasification.
The WHIX 2005 project, solar-powered water purification, concluded in September 2008. Results have been lauded by experienced military commanders and logisticians as having tremendous applicability in Iraq by providing alternative energy sources that will reduce the numbers of convoys carrying water and diesel fuel for generators to remote forward operating bases. The systems tested, included baseline of solar energy requirements for the US Army standard reverse osmosis water purification system (Honduras), development of an advanced, energy efficient system which used excess solar power for satellite communications systems as part of a disaster response (Argentina & El Salvador), and a demonstration of a containerized system, the Solar Cube by Spectra Watermakers, which included both solar and wind power (Chile). FIU also designed a small, tactical system, the H2Go System which can be transported in a Hummer, with solar, thin film, photo-voltaic cells incorporated into the Hummer roof, providing a mobile, tactical water source for small team and first responder operations.
The WHIX 2006 project installed micro-hydro turbines for electrical generation at a remote military installation in Peru. This project demonstrated the utility of the light-weight micro-hydro systems in producing 10kw and 2kw of power under a variety of water flow conditions. As a result of this project and our affiliation with Peru’s National Hydraulic Lab and the National Engineering University (UNI), the Peruvian military established a permanent collaboration for training of military engineers in renewable energy technologies, specifically micro-hydro turbine systems, that will enable them to use renewable energy technologies to establish remote military outposts along the Amazon region in support of drug interdiction missions and border security operations.
In The WHIX 2007 project, OASA I&E, US Southern Command and FIU are partnering with Panama to convert and test a land vehicle, UAV and water vessel to run on various mixtures of readily available bio-diesel fuels formed from native feed stocks of Jatropha, African Palm, and rapeseed/sunflower or other native, non-food fuel sources. This research will demonstrate the viability of locally produced bio-diesel for military use, as well as evaluate emissions engine performance parameters.
The WHIX 2008 project, recently awarded to FIU’s Applied Research Center, will develop a suite of renewable energy systems to power a mobile medical center or emergency operations center.
For questions or comments, please contact
Florida International University’s
Applied Research Center