Jan 14, 2011

HydroPacks Provide Emergency Water Treatment After Haiti Earthquake

Systems uses technology developed by Eastman Chemical Co. to filter contaminants

Hydration Technology Innovations (HTI) successfully deployed more than 24,000 life-saving HydroPacks, emergency hydration solutions for disaster relief, in Haiti just days after the devastating earthquakes in January 2010. Experts from HTI will work with experts from Eastman Chemical Co. and the design firm Modern Edge to identify further design and technology refinements following a disaster relief demonstration from Jan. 18 to 28, 2011.

“Drinking water is one of the first things that a victim of a natural disaster needs to survive,” said Walter Schultz, chief executive of HTI. “Many of the deaths that occur from natural disasters don’t happen because of the disaster itself, but from what happens later–water-borne disease that sweeps through the population.”

With HydroPack, victims of natural and man-made disasters now can transform virtually any water source—lakes, streams, swimming pools and even contaminated flood waters and mud puddles–into clean, nutrient-enriched emergency drinks.

HydroPacks are powered by filtration technology called Forward Osmosis, achieved through HTI’s proprietary membrane, which is manufactured from Eastman’s cellulose acetate. Forward Osmosis is a natural equilibrium process. Two liquids are separated by a membrane that allows only water molecules to pass, while excluding larger molecules and toxic contaminants. In independent laboratory tests, HTI filters meet or surpass the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s water purifier specification for reductions in bacteria, viruses and cysts.

In a HydroPack, electrolytes and nutrients in powder form are enclosed in a compartment between the two membranes, and water become a sports drink as it diffuses across the membrane. What begins as a paper thin 4-in. by 6-in. pouch is transformed, in eight to 12 hours, into a clean and healthy 12-oz drink, straw included.

Jos de Wit, senior research associate for Eastman, explains that Eastman’s cellulose esters are remarkable polymers with a renewable backbone provided by nature itself. These versatile polymers are based on one of the most abundant naturally occurring biopolymers–cellulose obtained from sustainably managed forests and cotton linters.

“Cellulosic polymers are the heart of HTI’s proprietary process that allows water to pass through the HydroPack membrane’s tiny pores,” said de Wit. “Salts, sugars and other contaminants are blocked by the HydroPack membrane.”