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Hydropak

Winner - Silver

Competition: Spark:Product
Designer: Ravi Sawhney - Principal
Design Type: Life Saving
Company / Organization / School: RKS
Website: http://www.rksdesign.com
Team Members: Hydration Technology Innovations (HTI), Eastman Chemical, and Modern Edge

The HydroPack is a cellulose fiber bag filled with sugar, electrolytes, vitamins and flavoring. When dropped into even the most polluted sources of water, it self-inflates using the cellulose fiber to strip away viruses and bacteria, creating a pure drinking water source. This provides disaster victims a way to live, as humans can only survive very few days without water. Full Description: Following a disaster, getting water into the hands of people is challenged by difficult-to-reach terrain and destroyed community infrastructure. Traditional bottled water often cannot survive the military airdrop due to its weight and fragility. HydroPack is the ideal alternative for these situations with its lighter weight, portability, and smaller footprint. The Challenge The design teams engaged with Eastman and HTI to brainstorm, identify, and illustrate key tactical product improvements and opportunity spaces that would advance HydroPack as the definitive interim hydration solution in disaster scenarios. Designing HydroPack to Be Simple, Intuitive, Hygienic and Effective Five iterative design concepts were developed, each focusing on addressing separate challenges that ranged from providing greater intuitiveness and ease of use to ensuring a clean drinking surface that prevents illness as well as transport considerations. All five concepts used forward osmosis, the innovative filtration similar to a tree drawing water up from its roots. Aspects of each concept were evaluated and combined into a new, strategic directive that would ensure HydroPacks are intuitive, simple, hygienic, and lifesaving irrespective of the regions or cultures using it. Focus was never lost on the importance of cost-effective design and manufacturing solutions that would maximize HydroPack’s adoption by international relief agencies; a per unit production cost of under $0.75 was targeted and achieved by the team. Addressing Ecosystems, Challenges and Opportunities The design teams helped develop appropriate and actionable strategies to tackle ecosystem-related challenges regarding issues of community adoption, logistics, and financing by pre-positioning delivery in the final mile, long-term local manufacturing, and funding strategies. HydroPacks cost only 19 cents per liter in transfer costs while bottled water is roughly $2 a liter and the expense can be higher during a crisis situation. HTI estimated that 90% of the cost of shipping water to Haiti after the earthquake could have been saved by using HydroPacks thereby reallocating roughly $700,000 in logistical expenses towards other relief measures. The Final Mile The team tackled transportation logistics of the critical “final mile” or last leg of distribution to ensure water gets from drop-off locations to where it is needed. The community infrastructure is often compromised following a disaster. Military airdrop was one scenario the team had to consider while improving on the design, but often low-tech solutions are also employed such as bicycles and ground transport by foot. The teams looked at aligning the design and ecosystem to meet these realities, exploring how materials, like tarps, could be converted to complement and elevate the HydroPack experience.