National Physical Laboratory

Life-saving rehydration technology

NPL worked with a small UK company, HATS, to help them solve a measurement issue and improve their life-saving rehydration products. These products are used following natural disasters to support the local population.

Port au Prince, Haiti, after 2010 earthquake
Port au Prince, Haiti, after a major earthquake in 2010
where the UN say over 3,600 people died from cholera
and many more deaths are expected. These could be
prevented by products which, due to work undertaken
by NPL, HATS now has under development.
(image courtesy of iStockphoto)

The Customer

Hampshire Advisory & Technical Services Ltd (HATS) is a small company based in Dorset which uses membrane technology in applications relating to dehydration and rehydration technology.

Much of this award winning technology is directed at the generation of self-rehydrating drinks, rations, milk and medicines. These products are mainly distributed to people affected by natural disasters such as tsunamis, floods, or earthquakes. Their use in the immediate aftermath of such disasters is crucial to save the lives of people most in need of clean drinking water and medicines.

HATS efforts are focused on developing further humanitarian products and its managing director Dr Philip Monro intends to use his own profits to provide funding aimed at developing inventions and products of primary use in the developing world.

The Challenge

HATS wanted to better understand the materials used in their products so that they could continue to improve their performance.

Their technology allows people to use local water supplies to rehydrate dry products (such as milk and medicines) via a special membrane, by a process known as forward-osmosis (i.e. water molecules pass through the membrane to the dry product inside and rehydrate it). Crucially, the end product is perfectly sterile and safe for people to consume.

The Solution

NPL's experts in the properties of thin materials and how they interact with liquids and solids provided critical data enabling HATS to develop membranes which will generate faster forward osmosis and so more rapidly provide safer drinks, food and medicines in disasters relief.

The Impact

The work carried out with NPL enabled HATS to make a radical improvement in the technology, leading to faster rehydrating, stronger and more reliable products.

This work was funded by the National Measurement System (NMS), the UK's national infrastructure for measurement, which delivers world-class measurement science and technology. It is overseen by the National Measurement Office (NMO), an Executive Agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and is responsible for stimulating good measurement practice and enabling business to make accurate and traceable measurements, for the benefit of the nation.

Contact: Nick Martin

Do you have an issue that NPL's measurement expertise could solve? If so, you can apply for NPL's Technology Innovation Fund

Find out more about NPL's work in Healthcare, Materials and Analytical Science

Last Updated: 7 Jan 2013
Created: 31 Jan 2011


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