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Transcript: Space4U podcast, Tom Smokoff-Craig Fairclough

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

Hello, I’m Carah Barbarick with the Space Foundation, and you’re listening to the Space4U podcast. Space4U is designed to tell the stories of the amazing people who make today’s space exploration possible. Today we are joined by Tom Smokoff and Craig Fairclough. Tom Smokoff is the co-founder and CEO of Water Pure Technologies, Inc.

 

A Space Foundation Certified Technology partner over the past 25 years. Tom’s entrepreneurial vision has driven innovations in the way. Water is treated and filtered Tom’s research and patented mineral ion technology is cutting edge for the treatment of biofilm related bacteria and water. Tom has also been involved with prolonging the use in lifespan of electro positive absorption, EPA nano water filtration technology. That was co-developed by NASA for use on the international space station.

 

He’s an educator and advisor to several humanitarian groups, and oftentimes you can find him teaching water safety at preparedness shows across the country. Craig graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from the University of Utah.

 

After 18 years of service, he ended his sales management career with Colgate Palmolive company and began his self-employment journey from then to the present. He has owned and operated four different business entities. He is currently the president of Water Pure technologies, Inc. Both Tom and Craig are advocates of clean water for all.

 

It is their hope that their efforts will benefit everyone and provide clean, fresh water to all people of all ages. Welcome to our podcast today. Hey, thank you very much. It’s good to be here with you. Yeah. Thank you, Carah. It’s great to be here. Excited to have you both, um, just reading your bios. It makes me realize what vastly different skillsets you guys both bring to water, peer technologies that Tom, can you tell us a little bit about your research days?

 

Cause you spent a decade or more researching before you founded Water Pure. Yeah. We actually had a couple of, uh, previous companies, uh, with other partners where we were developing the, uh, H2O rescue. That’s the name of the product, which is the copper silver ion solution. And originally we started that company where we were developing it, uh, to provide safer water to people in Africa.

 

And so we had to been approached by a humanitarian group, uh, because they knew about our technology and that was kind of the, uh, started the company and got the ball rolling that was smoke, uh, technologies and innovative water technologies back in the day. And so Dr. Terry Ring and I spent about 10 years engineering that product.

 

To treat contaminated waters worldwide and just make them safer, long time and serious dedication to water and the purification of it. Well, we saw the results and knew that it worked. So it kept our drive going because it took a while to get it off the ground and get people aware of it. Yeah, I think, you know, at least as far as state side goes, we don’t think about our water too much.

 

Cause it, it comes through our tap fairly, fairly clean. Well, it’s not as clean as it used to be. There’s a lot of agricultural, uh, byproducts that get in the ground and plastics, and, you know, there’s a lot of boil orders going on. And by the time we find out that the water isn’t clean, maybe coming through our tap, we’ve already drank it.

 

So it’s a good reason to be thinking about it, whether something’s happening or not. Well, something, a lot of people don’t understand is our infrastructure, meaning the pipes that lead to the house or on average, 60-plus years old in some areas in some states are over a hundred years old. And some of those, uh, obviously have bacterial buildup.

 

I mean, look at Flint, Michigan with the lead problems that not only was in the water, but some of these old systems have lead pipes that lead to your house. It’s just crazy to think about good filtration is really necessary and it enhances everybody’s lives. And it’s very affordable to everyone to have a filter that really works.

 

It can remove a lot of these contaminants. And I want to dive into that a little bit deeper, but first Craig, can you tell us what drew you away from your sales background into the realm of water purification? Well, that’s a good question. You know, I’ve been in the emergency preparedness industry for the past 25 years, helping people, you know, to prepare for any type of disaster.

 

In one of my companies we produced and sold dehydrated and freeze dried foods. And most people don’t have an adequate supply of food or more importantly water in cases of emergency. Um, as, uh, of course it was evidenced by the COVID 19 scarcity that we just had at the store level, you know, basic food and water products were wiped out within hours in the stores.

 

And that’s pretty scary. Uh, if you are caught unprepared. So if you’re caught without or run out of water, what are your choices? You got. Lakes rivers streams. They’re all available, but most likely will make you sick because of the microorganisms or other contaminants that are present, making things even worse.

 

So when I met Tom, we decided we could make a difference in the industry and help people in emergencies as well as their everyday lives, with safe, clean water, and have the ability to, uh, obtain it at any time, no matter what the circumstance was. I think that’s just brilliant. You know, I think we live rather sheltered lives, not even really thinking about being prepared for any sort of disaster, you know, to include COVID-19 or the Texas freeze we had recently as well.

 

Oh, definitely. Well, let’s go back to what Tom was kind of bringing out and dig a little deeper into your products and specifically their connection to space. So Craig, can you tell us what makes your filters unique compared to others on the market? Sure. Be happy to, you know, our nano filters are not directly comparable to any other water purification media, you know, that are currently on the market today.

 

The nanofiber filter is a, they call an electropositive technology that has been, uh, Develop, it’s kind of crystal and a nature. The minerals inside the filter develop a strong, positive charge as the water goes through it. Uh, and around the, around the fibers and inside the fibers, which attracts the negative, uh, charge that are present in most sub-micron contaminants.

 

Little technical there, but the media we currently use is also infused with both carbon and silver, making it more effective in filtering and treating microorganisms in the water that could make us sick. So most filters today on the market are mainly mechanical in nature, you know, uh, both carbon filters and ceramic filters, which means that the smaller, the pore size or micron size of the filter, the smaller the particle or.

 

Micro or organism it can remove. So this process restricts the water flow to a greater degree and also shortens the filter life. But the electropositive technology, uh, we have, uh, a larger pore size, but much faster flow flow over the water. So it captures extremely small nano-sized substances and pathogens, but also removes larger particles as well.

 

Very interesting. It seems counterintuitive that it would have a larger pore size, but catch more of those smaller pathogens and particles. Yeah. That, that charge spans the, the filter media there. So it captures more particles. Well, one other thing with that filter, uh, it has 400 layers of nanomaterials sandwich together.

 

That material creates a torturous path for even a, uh, virus to get through. So if you were to look under an electron microscope, it looks like a mascara brush with these, uh, viruses spiked on the ends, almost like a cactus. So it, it filters multiple ways. It’s got an, a positive charge that pulls in the negative charge.

 

Like a magnet has to go through 400 layers of nano material. And the filters will typically last about 20 times longer than a mechanical filter that would be able to filter viruses plus flow rates that are 300 times greater. Yes, which when you’re sitting beside a stream trying to pump water into your water bottle, that’s the flow rate is a big deal.

 

Well, this filter I’ll give, also gives us the ability to filter somebody’s whole house or a village because we have filters that are 40 inches long that can filter over 2,000 gallons an hour. Wow. A mechanical filter that can do viruses, the water drips out. So this is a game-changing filter, as far as its ability to save lives, treat lots of water and, uh, it really does a great job.

 

It’s got the highest reduction of bacteria and viruses tested to date, and you use the word reduction instead of removed what what’s the difference between those two, when you’re talking water filtration. Well, I don’t like the word removed because if it kind of gives people a false sense that it’s taking everything out, there’s no filter that guarantees a hundred percent removal.

 

So we have tests that are done by EPA certified labs that have reduction levels. A lot of companies use the word removed, but if I remove myself from a room, I’m no longer there. And I think people, in fact, a lot of people I talk to will often say, show your filter, removes everything. Now it reduces. And so I don’t want people to get a false sense that, uh, there’s any filter out there that can guarantee a hundred percent safety cause it doesn’t exist.

 

Right. So then what would be your typical reduction rates? Our last EPA testing that was done a few weeks ago on a filter. We had a log six on both bacteria and virus, which means 99.9999 removals six, six nines. Now, if we turn that into numbers of people, for instance, that would be 100,000 people. And if there were a virus in the water, it would reduce the risk to one in a hundred thousand, possibly getting the virus, the other 999,999 would not get it.

 

I should say 99,999 would not get the virus based on the reduction levels. So greatly. And if the water did have a virus and people drank it all 100,000 would drink it, that didn’t use the filter. All of the 100,000 would become ill without the filter. Yeah. It needs a host spot in. You’d have it in you.

 

What you ingested the water. We’re very lucky that this Coronavirus wasn’t a waterborne and that we could ingest it. Yeah, that would have changed everything. Yeah. Well, especially since it’s been found in almost every water supply stores across the nation, now Craig mentioned nano water filtration technology.

 

Is that the, the layers or what is that considered? Well, there’s 30 pages of scientific technology that explained, Ooh, let’s summarize it down to a few sentences for us. Well, typically there’s different ways to build this filter. What we do is we have a 400 layers of material. It’s a pleated filter.

 

So if you were to look at a swimming pool or a filter for a hot tub, it looks very similar to that by pleating it, it gives it more surface area. The filter lasts longer. So it has the 400 layers. It created a torturous path. When water makes contact with the filter without the need for a power source, it becomes an electrically charged positive field.

 

So water on contact that pulls in the negative charge. It’s impacted with carbon, which absorbed some heavy metals, chlorine. It improves the taste of the water. So for pulling water out of a stagnant pond, we want it to taste good. And so that polishes off the taste makes it taste more like spring water.

 

And then we infuse the filter with an AIG on silver. That silver is an EPA certified, uh, anti-microbial silver that we put in there to stop biological growth, and that will keep the filter lasting longer and it will be safer out in the field. And then we put a five micron outer wrap around that filter, which is kind of like a paper filter.

 

We wrap it around the nano filter and that will. Trap anything, five microns or larger before it goes into the nano filter and that filter is rentable. So there again, we can rinse it off. It prolongs the life of the filter out in the field. So it’s all. Yeah. So it’s all about us getting a filter that lasts a long time, because if you’re in a disaster zone, very difficult to carry a lot of filters, ship them in.

 

It’s kind of like our situation with toilet paper in coronavirus, you know, we couldn’t even get it at the store people yeah. Or hoarding it. But the thing is, is, uh, if we could make that filter last longer out in the field, it costs less, takes up less space and, uh, we can save a lot more lives with a single filter or enhance people’s health.

 

Definitely. So you mentioned out in the field quite a bit, but what were the origins and the connections with NASA? So the space connection. Well, the filter was co-developed by NASA and a couple other entities. So what we are as a spin-off partner with NASA, because we use the same water filter technology on our filters as they use on the space station and other space exploration, we’ve also been featured in their spinoff magazine and.

 

And, uh, talked about there because astronauts have a limited ability to obtain water in space. They have to research violate or reuse any water that’s on the vehicle and make it clean and drinkable. And yes, that does include urine. That’s always the first question. So this is the most advanced filter on the market for us here at home, as well as on the space shuttle.

 

So it’s a, it’s a great filter to use any, any place, because if you don’t filter the water, your body becomes the filter. And a lot of people don’t realize how much, um, how many contaminants there are in their waters from groundwater, from pharmaceuticals that are being flushed. Into the water system. And, uh, most municipalities are not equipped to filter that type of thing.

 

That’s a really good analogy of our bodies being the filter. If we don’t have a good one. Well, let me interject one thing here, too. The bottled water everybody’s buying nowadays on average 93% of those bottles that we purchase at the store have anywhere from 300 to 10,000 microplastics in each bottle that doesn’t include all the chemicals and hormones and plesticides that they found, but there’s been extensive studies done in Germany that show up to 24,500 contaminants.

 

And single bottles of store-bought bottled water. Pretty scary. When you think about it. Yeah. What are your thinking? Is the, the cleaner and safer water actually has quite a few issues itself. Your tap water safer typically. So it started in space. Highly scientific, obviously, if it can filter urine and now you’re using it, you said you could use it in homes and you know, you were referred to on-site locations or villages.

 

Can you tell me where all your filters can be used? Well, the lash. Correct. Yeah, just a few weeks ago, we sent some off to an orphanage Africa. Our company has been involved with, uh, drilling a well there also, but in the interim all the, well, it was being drilled, they needed clean water. So we sent a new filter that we had kind of developed, which is a gravity flow filter.

 

So the only thing they needed on their end was two, five gallon buckets with ledge and they could make their own, uh, Gravity fed water filter system. We’ve also sent hand units to Puerto Rico, uh, during, right after the hurricanes to provide water to people down there, we, uh, sent units were sent to the Philippines to supply 300 school children, their water that was at a school.

 

Uh, I was at Standing Rock. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about that one because of political reasons, but I felt that, you know, there was a need and we had all these people on the frontline trying to protect our water. And during the time that Standing Rock was going to camp was shutting down, their water truck broke down.

 

And so we, uh, built a system to provide the water protectors water. Up at Standing Rock. Uh, there’s other things that we’ve supplied and other entities that we’ve supplied water filtration to, to through the years. But, uh, that kind of gives you an idea of a little bit of what we’ve done. Yeah. I mean, it sounds like it can be just about anywhere.

 

It’s more a matter of, you know, what you can put the filter in to whether it’s a home unit or a five gallon bucket. We can also put these in a small, uh, bottled water, uh, units. And, uh, you can take them as you go camping or hiking or whatever. So at the same filter technology on portable things as well.

 

That’s really nice. And I feel like one time you guys told me about, uh, a backpack unit. Yeah. That’s a three-stage unit as well. That’s got a carbon filter, a nano filter and also has a pre-filter. In the stream or the lake where you have a pump to pump the water out of a gallon and a half a minute. Wow.

 

And filter the water, uh, to a purification state. There was one group that had our filter up at a, uh, a campground. And the only source of water was, uh, out of a lake or a stream. And everybody else’s, uh, Filters were plugging up and made them useless. And we had a fellow up there that was using ours and he eventually supplied water to 30 other people whose, whose, uh, filters didn’t work anymore because of the way ours is designed.

 

Goodness, that’s a testament to your filter for sure. Yeah, that cap was actually a survival tab that makes you even better. Yeah. He was told to bring their own filter up there and everybody’s filters plugged up within two hours, according to our customer. And they were up there for a week. So that backpack supplied 30 people, all their drinking, water, cooking, water, and his, and his wife’s bathing water for an entire week.

 

Without ever slowing down. He said, so that’s the difference between nanotechnology and a mechanical filter is its ability to filter a lot of water, do it quickly. And the filter lasting 25 times longer seems a no-brainer to me. That’s definitely what you want to take with you. Well, sadly, not too many people are aware of this technology even, or its availability right now.

 

And that was one reason why Craig and I got involved with this too, was we’d already been involved building survival units. Uh, the fire jumpers fire brigades, uh, in Northern California have been using. One of our systems, which is a battery operated that provides 174 gallons per hour with a flip of a switch again, essential for them to have that you have to have water.

 

Yes. And you guys are both clearly passionate about bringing clean and safe water to everyone. Can you tell me a little bit more why you feel this is just so important? Well, whether it be adults or children, everybody has water and, uh, not, not be surprised with boil orders or, or just bad water coming into their system.

 

And so it’s, uh, extremely important for their health and wellbeing of, of. Of every month to have this type of filtration available, whether it be an emergency or on an everyday basis or your everyday life, uh, because you are what you drink and you are what you eat. So it’s very important to have this, uh, type of filtration available to everybody.

 

Uh, one thing I’d like to add to what Craig just said, Is this filters ability to remove lead? What happened in Flint, Michigan? Uh, pretty much all of us across the country are aware of that situation with the high lead levels coming in through the homes and through the tap water, the lead reduction on a single pass through of one nano filter is over 98% lead reduction.

 

Uh, you’ve got to remember. Kind of bear in mind too. When we build systems like for under counter sinks or homes, there are multiple stages. So it’ll go through one filter through the next, through the next. And so with each filter and we can do specialized filters, we can reduce, reduce, reduce.

 

So it pretty much could have, uh, eliminated the whole entire fiasco and the problems that Flint Michigan was facing with the lead. In fact, I had contacted or tried to contact the mayor’s office, uh, and we were willing to donate a system, uh, and get it up there at Flint, Michigan. But unfortunately we never were able to make contact with the mayor.

 

I feel like that’s just a situation where sometimes the, the 30 pages of science, like you mentioned is a little intimidating. Well, unfortunately, and that’s why people need to be, need to be prepared. You know, Craig kind of emphasized people being prepared, but I mean, one thing that’s really easy to do and very affordable is to have a filtration system on hand.

 

Yes. And it could sit on your shelf for quite a while, correct? Yes. Or you can put one underneath your sink, you, those filters last typically a year or more. I have just a random question for you because you guys do so much humanitarian work. How many continents have you supplied filtration systems for, for humanitarian groups?

 

Well, some of it’s not just filter. Some of it’s been the copper silver ion solution. Uh, remember when the hurricanes hit The Bahamas. Yeah. Well, the problem with those is they have no water because all their water is well water. So people don’t think about that either, but when the ocean tides came in and the flood started, all the, uh, water was contaminated.

 

On the islands and they had to import water on barges. So a group, no tab left behind contacted me and, uh, requested some of the H2O rescue because they were involved with delivering water on these barges and they wanted to treat the water and keep it safe. So we’ve got products in the Philippines and The Bahamas, uh, in Africa, Greg was in, uh, India, uh, doing, uh, working with a leper colony there, South America, Mexico, Puerto Rico.

 

It’s kind of hard to keep track because some people order them in and we’re currently working with, uh, uh, group right now to, to supply a couple of countries in Africa and testing and things are underway on that right now. It’s just amazing from that list, it sounds like you’ve hit six or maybe five of the seven continents.

 

So we need to get you in Australia and Antarctica, uh, South America. I forgot too. We’ve done some stuff down in Peru. Wow. Yeah. Which some of these countries are really hard to get anything in — things get stolen. Uh, when you’re trying to take them in the U.S. doesn’t allow anybody typically, other than health officials to touch water or supply water during emergency disasters.

 

And sometimes they’re slow to get to these people and they’re drinking contaminated water in flood zones here in the U.S. so I think states and cities and, uh, government officials need to be more, uh, educated as to the, uh, what these filters capabilities are and what they can do, and incorporate the technology in, uh, local emergency disaster situations.

 

Yes, we have a lot more educating to do, to bring this space technology to people. Well, it’s relatively new. As far as being, being available to the public NASA got involved in the year 2000, started using it in 2004. Uh, really didn’t become available to the public till we were one of the first that started building systems and, uh, On a scale where it was home use, emergency use.

 

And that was the year probably what we started about 2016, 15. And, uh, we were interviewed and we were in the spinoff technology magazine in 2017 where NASA kind of explained why they got involved with the filtration. Uh, one of their fears were terrorist attacks in this country because it would be real easy for, uh, someone to contaminate our water supplies. And by the time, uh, we knew that it happened. Many of us would have ingested that water through our taps. Yeah. Be too late at that point.

 

Well, I’d love to hear one of your stories, maybe one of your most memorable moments, providing water to someone. Do either of you have a, a highlight in your mind? Uh, yeah, probably the most recent one. And I’m only laughing because, uh, I should have, I didn’t expect what happened, but when we were sending some of those gravity filters to Africa, the people there had filled up these five gallon, Jerry cans with the water, but rather than pre-filtering or letting the water settle.

 

They filled them up full of dirt and Moss. And, uh, and then when they put our filters in the buckets, they basically filled these things up with, uh, Moss and modern. They plugged up fairly quickly. They were able to clean them off and reuse them. But I got a chuckle out of it because I just kind of expected them to.

 

No, you know, you can’t just pour water that dirty into any type of filter without it plugging up. And one of my close friends, who’s an engineer, uh, saw the video and contacted me and asked me if I’d seen what they’d done yet. So I’ve got the video, which kind of is a funny thing, but it did remind me that I need to let people know.

 

Because there’s a simple solution to that. If you let water settle in a bucket for about five minutes, all the heavy dirt and debris will fall to the bottom, and then you can skim off the cleaner water or you can pre-filtered even with a t-shirt yeah. Catch all those larger particles. And one thing that we’ve done since then is we got a five gallon strainer that fits on top of these buckets.

 

That’s a hundred micron that will remove most of that. So when we send these out, we’re going to be sending out that filter with instructions, and we’re hoping to do a video on this fairly soon. Awesome. I love that. You’re just always improving. Well, sometimes you learn by your own mistakes and that’s probably the best way.

 

Very true. It sticks with you a little bit longer that way it sure, sure does. Great. Do you have a, a highlight moment or a story of bringing water to someone? Well, there was a, a lady that came to us one day and says, if you got something to filter our water, because the city I’m in right now, the water is horrible.

 

None of us want to drink it. The only thing we can do is drink bottled water. So he supplied a whole house system to her and her family. And, uh, they were able to drink it from that on. And, uh, I can count on her coming in. About once a year and, uh, buying new filters because it’s, it starts to collect so much debris and, and chemicals in the water that it, it starts to plug up a little bit.

 

So, uh, she gets a new, fresh set of filters every year and, uh, their water tastes great. So that’s some people just don’t realize. All the contaminants that are in their water, whether it be ones that you can taste are ones that do not taste and will make you sick eventually. Yeah, I guess I’ve always just had water out of the tap my whole life and it tastes good.

 

So never really thought about it. A lot of contaminants are not just manmade. They’re just, uh, they leach out of the soils and, and, uh, out of the mountains or wherever the water is coming from, they’re just naturally occurring like arsenic and, and radon and all that kind of thing. Uh, just come right out of the soil.

 

So, and that doesn’t even include the pesticides that are being that’s probably the number one contaminant in the country are these, uh, agricultural groups that are putting a lot of chemicals into the ground. That goes into our aquifers and, uh, there’s thousands of contaminants. I mean, you can’t filter them out.

 

So a lot of that, and so these greatly reduce it and enhance your health. You know, people want to be healthy. They spend a lot of money on things that really don’t do anything to enhance your health, but they won’t spend a couple of hundred dollars for an under counter sink unit. It amazes me. Yeah.

 

One thing we are always drinking could filter and make better. Oh, and one thing you mentioned, you think that your tap water tastes good. I think we need to send Carah a water bottle with one of our filters and let her do a taste test on that and get back to us. I’ll definitely do that. Have a little, uh, scientific comparison of taste.

 

We had a gentleman I’m guessing it was in his 80s, do that. Eddie had, I’m not going to name the manufacturer, but he had a, a well-known manufacturers filter. He bought one of ours and he had his wife doing the taste test, which was kind of funny because he brought on a piece of paper, which one was our filter, which one was the others.

 

And he did it a couple of times with a couple of people. And every time they picked our filters, having the best tasting water. So I’m definitely sending you a water bottle. I love it. Well, we will for sure do that. Maybe we’ll even have a little display at the Discovery Center with something like that.

 

That’d be really fun. I’ve talked to the Discovery Center too, because I don’t, I think you’re aware of this, but we developed the world’s first water bottle made entirely out of plants. Yes. It’s anti-microbial so we infused it. So the bottle itself can basically stop bacteria and viruses from growing on the surface.

 

It has options for two different filters. Uh, we liked the fact that when we got involved with this project, we partnered with another couple of people on that was the fact that when we were manufacturing, these, it leaves a zero-carbon imprint on the planet. In fact, we’re basically stopping some pollution because we’re taking a material that’s going to be burned and we’re turning it into a plat, made plastic that’s biodegradable and it’s reusable.

 

I think that’s all the questions I have for you guys. Did, did I miss anything that you wanted to make sure and share with us? I think we’ve covered all the basics and the importance of water and the importance of water filtration, no matter who you are and where you are. So, uh, it’s important for your health.

 

Yeah, I think we’ve pretty much covered it. You know, one thing about these water bottles, we can carry them through the airport or anywhere on the planet have men hand, if we had a disaster or an earthquake or something, and it’s in your hand, you’ve got your water filtration system with you at all times.

 

Can’t ask for anything better than that. So we’ll make sure you get yours, Carah, and we really appreciate, uh, the opportunity to, to talk with you. Yeah, it’s been my pleasure. I always really enjoyed speaking with you guys and hearing your story. I feel like sometimes I’m very naive about water and the filtration and cleansing of it.

 

So. Well, most people are, and that’s, that’s why we’re here is to educate them and help them to realize that importance. So thank you for the opportunity. It is our pleasure.

 

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And of course our website, spacefoundation.org, where you can also learn about the various ways you can support Space Foundation on all of these outlets and more. It’s Space. Foundation’s mission to be a gateway to education, information, and collaboration for space exploration and space-inspired industries that drive the global space ecosystem. At Space Foundation, we will always have space for you.

 

Thanks for listening.


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Space4U Podcast: Tom Smokov & Craig Fairclough, Water Pure Technologies