Chemistry solutions: HydroPack™ turns dirty water into clean, flavorful drink for disaster victims, waterborne illness sufferers [VIDEO]

The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) last month presented the 2011 Curator’s Choice Award to makers of the Hydropack™ Self-Hydrating Drink Pouch – a 5-inch by 7-inch pouch capable of turning a dirty puddle of rainwater into a clean, flavorful drink in about 10 hours.

With UNICEF reporting that 1.5 million children die every year from a lack of clean water and sanitation, the paper-thin pouch offers timely relief to dehydrated disaster victims and sufferers of pervasive waterborne illnesses.

Developed by Hydration Technology Innovations (HTI), the HydroPack™ uses Forward Osmosis to filter dirty water through a membrane made from Eastman Chemical’s cellulose acetate – the heart, Eastman says, of HTI’s innovative technology. Each pouch is packed with essential nutrients and electrolytes.

Perhaps most importantly, the HydroPack™ is lightweight and readily transportable – a feature that Marc Greuther, chief curator at The Henry Ford museum where HydroPack™ is now being showcased, doesn’t take for granted:

One of the things I liked about the HydroPack™ is its inherent modesty. It’s designed to slide into place. It’s a solution to a particular need in a disaster situation. This was not intended to be a big solution to everything. It recognizes real needs – not wants, not preferences, but life or death, and right now. … The other aspect of it is the degree to which it can be shipped in quantity easily based on the supply chain. And, if necessary, it can be distributed readily – not all that different than passing business cards when it comes down to it.

As evidence of that fact, HTI deployed 24,000 life-saving HydroPacks™ in the days following the January 2010 earthquakes in Haiti, for which the product first earned an Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA) nomination. Researchers say relief teams could have saved an additional $750,000 per day hauling lightweight HydroPacks™ rather than bottled water in and out of the devastated country.

As Eastman’s Maranda Demuth told the Bristol Herald Courier:

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

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