HydroPack makes dirty water clean

Hey, everyone! I saw this article on the Bristol Herald Courier website. This could be a real life saver for a lot of people when there are natural disasters. Here’s a reprint for you.

HydroPack makes dirty water clean

Submitted Photo – The HydroPack makes drinkable water in 10 hours.

By Allie Robinson
Published: March 28, 2011

BRISTOL HERALD COURIER

It resembles a Capri Sun pouch, if a Capri Sun were flat and filled with orange powder. It probably tastes similar to a Capri Sun drink, too.

But the HydroPack is no lunchbox beverage – it’s far more likely to be seen in the hands of disaster victims than third graders.

That’s because the HydroPack can turn just about any water source – a mud puddle, rainwater, flood waters – into 12 ounces of clean, filtered water in about 10 hours.

The pouch, which is about the size of half a sheet of paper, is clear and plastic on one side, and papery on the other. Inside are chemicals to purify water, as well as nutrients like Vitamin C and potassium, and sugar and a flavor, like orange.

The one-time-use emergency filter is produced by Hydration Technology Innovations, a company based in Arizona. Eastman Chemical, in Kingsport, provided the chemical catalyst to make the pouch work.

“Eastman cellulose acetate goes into the membrane and it enables the forward osmosis process,” said Maranda Demuth, who works in corporate communications at Eastman. “The Eastman cellulose acetate … is the thing that is the membrane that pulls the water through.”

The forward osmosis process is critical to the HydroPack’s functionality, she said. Basically, the cellulose acetate pulls the dirty water through the back of the pouch’s papery side, and the chemicals purify and filter it as the water flows through, filling the pouch with a clean beverage. After it is full, a straw can be punched in the pouch for consumption, Capri Sun-style.

“It’s very, very cool,” Demuth said. “The results of this innovation are really a life-saving technology to deploy to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

She said Eastman has worked with HTI for several years, and through their partnership has helped to optimize the materials in the HTI packet.

The HydroPack has received a lot of attention lately because representatives from HTI, Eastman, and the pack’s design company, Modern Edge, visited Kenya in late January to test the HydroPack in the field, Demuth said.

“They were there several weeks and came back very energized,” she said.

According to a blog HTI representatives kept while in Kenya, natives loved the HydroPack.

“The most frequent phrase out of the mouths of our field workers was, ‘They’re crazy about the HydroPack,’” wrote Nathan Jones, an HTI disaster relief specialist who kept the trip’s blog. “Hydration states improved during the pilot, as documented by our three community health workers performing the health survey.”

The HydroPack is intended to be used as a “short-term solution,” Demuth said.

“It’s for the interim phase [when] we need sustainability very quickly before relief agencies arrive,

she said. “The HydroPack is really meant for that window.”

She said 200,000 HydroPacks were sent to Haiti after the earthquakes there in January 2010. She also said that it would take 15 helicopters carrying clean water to a disaster relief area to carry as much water as one helicopter filled with HydroPacks would be able to purify.

“The HydroPack is light, is compact, [it] really could revolutionize” disaster relief response, she said. “[It would save] an abundance for the logistics cost, bringing in pouches instead of bottled water.”

HydroPacks are also available for commercial use, such as for camping or boating trips. The warning on the product’s brochure tells consumers not to use the HydroPack in seawater, sewage or antifreeze, which illustrates how versatile the product is.

“Eastman is proud of this,” Demuth said. “It truly embodies our commitment to sustainability, and is just the right thing to do.”