An ordinary shower expends between 2.5 and 4 gallons of water a minute. That means a quick 10-minute scrub-down uses 25 to 40 gallons of H2O, on average. Instead of all that aqua pura going down the drain, putting a burden not only on the environment but also on your wallet, Swedish designer Mehrdad Mahdjoubi has developed a way to make our hygienic ritual a little more ecologically and economically friendly.
Mahdjoubi’s water recycling shower, called OrbSys, cuts water use by 90 percent, according to CNN. The “closed-loop” purification system reuses the water already going down the drain to keep a shower flowing. The water is purified in the base of the shower to drinking-water standards and pumped back up through the showerhead, employing technology similar to the water system used by astronauts traveling for long periods of time through space.
"In an extreme environment such as a space mission to Mars, design concepts are brought forward to use all of the possible resources to make it there and back. I don't see any reason why we can't be as efficient on Earth as we can be in space," Mahdjoubi told CNN.
"With my shower, which is constantly recycling water, you'd only use about five liters of water for a 10-minute shower ... In a regular shower, you would use 150 liters of water -- 30 times as much. It's a lot of savings," Mahdjoubi explained.
Mahdjoubi, who studied industrial design at University of Lund in Sweden, partnered up with NASA's Johnson Space Center to develop an eco-friendlier approach to bathing. “Due to our patented recycling technology, which includes purification and heat recovery in real time, the water quality is ensured to be above drinking-quality level,” the website for OrbSys reads. “Testing at credited laboratories such as Swedish Institute of Diseases as well as Alcontrol Laboratories has been done throughout our whole development process.”
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According to Orbital Systems, the purification system removed 99.96 percent of endotoxins, 99.5 percent of all DNA material, and nearly 100 percent of all micron-sized particles.
The eco-shower concept is hardly a novel idea, but Mahdjoubi insists that his water recycling shower stands out from the crowd because it doesn’t skimp on comfort. An environmentally-friendly shower with the water pressure of an eye-dropper certainly wouldn’t sit well with consumers.
"I want to get it to as many people as possible,” Mahdjoubi said. “That's the next step. It's not just about saving water. The motivation is to be smart about how we use our planet's resources."