Comparison of the Innosol and other emergency water units

What is important in an emergency water unit?

Not all emergency water purifying devices are equal. There are many characteristics to consider, but in community and city-scale applications, the most important characteristics are:

  • the throughput (amount of water produced per day)
  • robustness
  • maintenance requirements
  • requirement of consumables, which may be expensive or unavailable in an emergency
  • power requirements; important if electricity distribution is compromised
  • mobility
  • size and weight
  • “tolerance” to wide range, often unknown, of contamination of source water
  • ability to work in harsh environmental conditions

To further clarify, regardless of scale, emergency water supply equipment must be able to operate in a great variety of temperatures, weather conditions, and be able to turn raw water of almost any salinity into clean, safe, drinkable water. Emergency water supply equipment must be able to eliminate all classes of contaminants, including suspended solids, microorganisms (bacteria, protozoa, parasites, cysts, endospores, and viruses), dissolved chemicals, and ideally should remove odour and colour.

Traditionally removal of dissolved chemicals, odours, and colours in small-scale applications is accomplished using activated carbon (charcoal), while broad-spectrum elimination of microorganisms can be accomplished using UV irradiation. However, both methods require that suspended solids larger than 0.8 micron (bacteria-size and larger) be eliminated first. Otherwise the solids coat the active chemical-adsorbing surface clogging the charcoal filter, and shade or encapsulate microorganisms, protecting them from the UV light.

Removal of the said suspended solids is therefore a primary step in producing clean drinking water. Typically used filtration systems require either continual replacement of filters (which are expensive, and may not be easily available, especially in emergency situations) or backwashing (which is often impossible under emergency circumstances). Furthermore, when the source water has high turbidity, filters will be exhausted very quickly.

With rare exceptions, in Canada due to the many clean lakes and rivers that have little chemical and biological contamination, the removal of suspended contaminants is often the only step required to produce clean drinking water. Thus, removal of suspended solids from water is the key to successful production of drinking water in both – normal and emergency situations.

Due to its centrality in the overall water purification process, R&D Innovative Solutions Inc. has revolutionized the process removal of suspended solids. By replacing traditional filtration methods with proprietary Innosol technology, the Innosol suspended solids removal method allows continuous separation of suspended solids larger than 0.45 micron from water without using consumables of all sort, including but not limited to water flocculation/coagulation chemicals. while operating with raw water of up to 15 000 NTU turbidity (!). This substantially extends the life of so-called end-pieces and increases the effectiveness of UV irradiation, where usage of such components is dictated by the specific emergency conditions. By design the Innosol water purification method requires power consumption on the order of magnitude less than traditional water filtration systems of all known types.

In most cases, the main Innosol emergency water unit, which eliminates suspended solids above 0.5 micron including, but not limited to, bacteria, protozoa, parasites, cysts, and endospores can be used alone to produce clean water without any off-the-shelf end-pieces (i.e. UV and charcoal filters). Such end-pieces should be used if there is concern of viral and/or dissolved chemical contamination.

General Electric manufactures an advanced water treatment unit with some technical similarities to the Innosol-EWSD. While GE's Homespring is an excellent system for purifying water in the home, it is not designed for deployment as an emergency water purifying technology. The main drawback of the Homespring in this application is the reliance on a charcoal filter followed by ultrafiltration for the elimination of suspended solids. The Homespring is designed to be used on low turbidity source water, such as well water or water pretreated by municipal drinking water treatment plants. In emergency situations, where the water source could be of any type, the charcoal filter and very fine ultrafiltration tubes will become clogged and unusable in a matter of minutes. By using electrostatic and magnetic fields to deflect particles, the Innosol-EWSD is capable of producing clean water even from very sources having turbidity as high as 15 000 NTU.

Homespring system has a much larger weight though it delivers water a lower flow-rate of clean water, making it less manageable in an emergency. The Innosol-EWSD, on the other hand, was designed to be portable for easy deployment. Finally, in cases where the charcoal filter is required, by placing it after suspended solids removal, the life of the charcoal filter is greatly extended.

Feature Innosol-EWSD-M (medium-size model) GE Homespring model UF211 ( Comments
Volume of Drinking water Produced Per Day 12 500 L 6 480 L
Population Served 2 500 1 296
Maximum source-water turbidity 15 000 NTU Not stated. Only suitable for well, cistern, or already-processed municipal water.
Power Consumption <200 W Not stated
Power Supply 120 V (AC)1 / 12 V (DC) can be powered by car battery 120 / 230 V (AC)
Carbon Filter Capacity (before replacement) Optional off-the-shelf accessory, rarely needed 130 000 L
Dimensions (l × w × h) 0.6 × 0.4 × 0.3 m 1.88 × 0.45 × 0.45 m
Weight 20 kg (44 lb) 82 kg (180 lb)
Maximum ambient temperature 85°C 60°C
Minimum ambient temperature 1°C (standard version) - 65°C (special order) 0°C
Suspended solids elimination method Proprietary particle deflecto-separation method “Ultrafiltration”
Guaranteed removal for suspended solids larger than (equivalent diameter), by the manufacturer’s spec 0.5 µm 0.02 µm Innosol’s particle removal performance is guaranteed by design. GE particle removal efficiency is subject to performance of a non-monitored alarm-less filtration system
Charcoal Filter Optional end-piece, rarely needed Optional
Backpressure required None, internal fully-automatic pump supplies upto 50 psi pressure of finished drinking water Standard household water pressure. Requires pump for processing unpressurized sources.
Self-cleaning The concentrated suspended solids are automatically disposed in the environmentally-friendly safe fashion on as-needed basis Electronic backwash cycle automatically triggered by the controller takes 5-10 minute (requires extra power).
Malfunction Alarms Automatic shut-off and visual & audio alarms on malfunction None Malfunction alarm capability is critical for citizens’ safety in both - emergency drinking water supply and ordinary drinking water supply markets
Maintenance No maintenance required. Annual inspection of the filtration membrane and changing of carbon filter by a certified technician. GE does not indicate what happens to customers if a filtration membrane clogs, cracks, or brakes. Innosol device is free of these possible problems by design.
1 Using power adapter, supplied.

The North American Water Quality Association WQA selected the Innosol technology and instrumentation as one of the most important innovations. Search for Innosol here

"...Innovative Multi-Application Large Volume Contaminant Detector: Reduces Process Costs, Monitors Product Water Quality, and Enhances Consumer Safety...The new instrumentation platform, Innosol-PLF, allows in-situ (online) detection, sizing, counting, and advanced monitoring of a wide range of biological and inorganic suspended solids (and more) in thousands of gallons of water and other liquid media, allowing for a number of unique cost-saving applications in industrial, commercial, and municipal markets..."

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