By Merlin Hearn
The HydroPack filter for emergency water purification is good news because on any given day, over 50 percent of the world’s hospital beds will be occupied by people with water-borne illnesses.
The UN estimates that by 2025, two thirds of the world’s population will face periodic and severe water shortages.
Earthquakes and floods claim most of their victims through dysentery, a water-borne illness occurring when people try to drink the contaminated water.
Hydration Technology Innovations (HTI), a company from Scottsdale, Arizona, has come up with an innovative new way to provide relief for people in emergency situations. Their solution uses a process called forward osmosis, which does not require any pumps, chemical solution, or energy.
The HTI HydroPack filter is like an empty Capri Sun pouch with powdered nutrients inside. But it's really a filter you can drop in any water source—a swimming pool, a mud puddle, a contaminated aquifer—and ten to twelve hours later the pack has filled itself with potable, fortified water.
These are especially useful the first 3 to 12 days after a natural disaster. Before relief aid can come in and set up filtration systems and/or restore power to the municipal water systems, the people need a source of fresh water.
For natural disasters, large-scale relief organizations such as the Red Cross have been using bottled water as their source. However, bottled water can be very ineffective due to the weight and manpower needed to haul one load of water.
Other water purifiers, such as iodine or chlorine tablets, will leave a chemical taste in the water and will not filter out the groundwater and sediments that usually come with it. Because of this, people in emergency situations will sometimes just drink the contaminated water instead, taking their chances.
The HydroPack filter efficiently solves both of these problems. The HydroPack is an empty pouch prior to filtration and weighs 13.7 times less than a comparative bottle of water.
This is a huge difference when trying to ship out large quantities of fresh water and dramatically helping more people receive fresh water and reducing the shipping cost and manpower needed.
Through a purification process called forward osmosis, the HydroPack filters down to the 0.0005 micron level, 200 times more effective than a hand pump at 0.1 micron level.
This puts it on par with the most expensive reverse osmosis filters.
The HydroPack is infused with electrolytes that are the catalyst for the forward osmosis process. In addition to tasting good and improving the health of the drinker, the electrolytes subtly pull the water through the membrane of the bag.
The membrane is so tight, however, that only the water molecules can pass through. The whole process takes about 10 to 12 hours, depending on the temperature of the water. People can put them in any type of water source, whether it is a swimming pool, a dirty creek, or water on the side of the road.
During the 2010 Haiti earthquake, HTI was able to quickly help out and send large quantities of HydroPacks and X-Packs (the larger version) to the danger areas. The people were able to make great use of the packs and thousands of HydroPacks would be seen filling in swimming pools or waterways every day.
The medics also found the filtered water invaluable, and one medic said the filtered was “lifesaving.” All in all, the HTI products are becoming more and more a great relief aid for people in disaster situations.