MSR’s Water Lab Explores Technologies for Developing Nations

Just two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen, water itself is elemental. But the science behind clean water and water treatment technologies is complex. That’s why MSR is home to a dedicated water research lab. The scientists who staff the lab develop and test water treatment solutions not just for MSR’s outdoor customers, but also for communities in the developing world who are faced with clean-water challenges. Take a look inside the water lab to learn about the fascinating work this team does to keep MSR Global Health at the forefront of water treatment innovation.

At MSR, we don’t just manufacture the majority of our gear here in Seattle, we also do the engineering and scientific research behind our products in-house. Our on-site water research lab plays an important role in the safety and reliability of MSR’s water treatment products.

“One of the things that makes MSR efficient and good at designing and producing high-quality water treatment devices, is the fact that we’re all localized,” says Zac Gleason, manager of MSR’s water lab.

“The water lab is here in Seattle, our design engineers are here in Seattle, our manufacturing engineers are here in Seattle, and so we can work on the science, with very rough technology, to figure out how it works, what it doesn’t do, what it does do, and then we can share that information with the engineers.”

The lab’s main job is to ensure quality control of MSR’s current products. Every week the team pulls a batch off the line to make sure they’re working properly, before they go out the door and into outdoor shops.

“When a customer buys something off the shelf to treat their water, they’re relying on it to keep them healthy so they can enjoy their time away from work out in the backcountry,” says Zac. “And we want to be a part of that experience – or at least provide a perfect water treatment device that goes unnoticed.”

MSR can remain at the forefront of water treatment innovation, because the lab is also an ongoing research center. It grows its own bacteria and viruses for testing and to help with future product development. And the team has hands-on experience with nearly every type of water treatment technology available to modern science.

In addition to research, testing is one of the lab’s core capabilities. We design every product to meet the scientific standards for safe drinking water. To ensure it, the lab puts each new product through rigorous multi-day tests using what’s called “worst-case water” to test the product’s effectiveness. Because of its expertise, the lab is often contracted by the US military and by philanthropic organizations working with citizens and developing nations.

“We work with groups like The Gates Foundation and PATH and Larry Norton Foundation to really find the best solutions for whatever problem they’re trying to confront,” ZAc says.

The MSR water lab is a special place with an incredible amount of scientific knowledge. It’s how we stay true to our goal of being your trusted source for safe water on every adventure.

Next, read MSR’s Complete Guide to Water Treatment Basics