The Essential Element, a Hopewell, N.J.-based company, has put “off the grid” on the radar. The company’s combination of new technologies in water purification and energy generation has led to the creation of HYDRA, a 20,000-gal-per-day water purifier the company claims is the first self-sustainable, portable water filtration system.
In their regular jobs at Oil Free Now LLC, Woodbury, Conn., David Squires and Brad Carlson were developing a water filtration system when they came across a patented solar and hydrogen energy system invented by Mike Strizki. For four years, Strizki has used the system to live “off the grid” in his Hopewell home. The house uses photovoltaic panels to charge batteries as well as to power an electrolytic action that breaks water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The elements also can be recombined to produce purified water. Hydrogen is used in a fuel cell to produce electricity during dark hours to power and heat the home.
Squires and Carlson visited Strizki to see his system and soon after pitched him the idea of miniaturizing it for HYDRA. A year and a half later, with an investment of $160,000, Squires, Carlson and Strizki, now Essential Element’s CFO, COO and CTO, respectively, have been featured with their device in videos on CNN and Reuters websites.
Within two weeks of its May 19 release, the trio not only made additional media appearances but pitched HYDRA to several potential buyers, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and the non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders.
But innovation comes at a price: $99,500. That amount buys a device with 12 collapsible solar panels that collect more than enough energy to run the purification system while the sun is shining. The solar energy powers an electrolyzer to decompose water into hydrogen and oxygen, keeping the hydrogen as an energy source and the medical-grade oxygen for medicinal uses.
The hydrogen provides power for the ultrafiltration system—which has an extra-fine filter—enabling it to operate during periods without sunlight. The single hydrogen tank that comes with the unit, along with a 300-amp/hr rechargeable battery, is capable of fueling HYDRA for nearly 30 hours without sunlight. Additional hydrogen tanks can be attached.
The Essential Element has one prototype completed but expects to have three ready for deployment by the end of the summer.