Case Study: Hydros On-the-Go Portable Water Filtration System
Developing a water filter that’s 5 times faster than the leading brand
The Consumer Product Design Challenge
Like many consumer product design innovations, the idea for the Hydros water filtration system began as a desire to make the world a better place—in this case, by providing an alternative to commercial bottled water that’s just as convenient. As founder Winston Ibrahim told the Knowledge@Wharton podcast, “It is just astounding that anybody would buy so much of this inherently available product in a way that’s so wasteful from a monetary perspective and from an environmental perspective.”
After some success with its first models, Hydros partnered with Nottingham Spirk to improve upon the second-generation design, which Ibrahim said “had a lot of development challenges and an inherently unsustainable cost structure.” The challenge was to develop a line of portable containers with interchangeable filters, and that filter water on the way in, without straws, rather than on the way out, like Brita pitchers.
Developing an Improved Water Filter
There is a lot of physics involved in liquid flow. The dimensions of a container’s inlet, outlet, venting, etc., have to be precise. There are countless variables, but only a limited number of combinations will work. The Hydros cap has three vents, all of them hidden, to ensure an easy flow, free of “glugs.” For fill-ups, a diffuser prevents water from drilling right through the filtration media, a granulated activated carbon that meets Hydros’ exceedingly high standards (it removes more than 90 percent of chlorines and chlorimides). The Nottingham Spirk-developed Fast-Flo filter is 5 times faster than the competition.
Materials for the Hydros product line were sourced from Germany, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and other places around the globe, to get the cleanest and most durable plastics available without driving up manufacturing costs. Nottingham Spirk worked directly with a leading international drinking vessel manufacturer, which purchased new equipment specifically for this project.
The Hydros line includes a filtering water bottle, a filtered carafe and a filtered water pitcher, which can be purchased individually or as a bundle. All of them use the same Hydros Multi Filter.