Showers use roughly 1.2 trillion gallons of water every year in the United States alone, while three times the country’s population around the world lacks access to any clean water at all. Swedish industrial designer Mehrdad Mahdjoubi has created a device that can both reduce the amount of water used in the first world and make the most of available water in the third. The OrbSys shower is a high-tech purification system that takes its inspiration from showers in space stations. It uses 90 percent less water and 80 percent less energy than standard showers, which can result in an annual savings of $1,000.
The closed-loop system captures hot water that falls from the tap to the drain, where it is instantly purified to a safe drinking standard before it is pumped back out of the showerhead. Because the process is so quick, the water remains hot and only needs to be reheated ever so slightly. As already mentioned, the savings are immense.
“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 to CNN.
Mahdjoubi proposed the OrbSys shower while studying Industrial Design at the University of Lund in Sweden. He then struck up a collaboration with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to expand the design. “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,” he says.
The showers underwent rigorous testing over the summer at Ribersborgs Kallbadhus, a coastal bathing house in Sweden. A constant flow of bathers means the shower received a trial by fire, often being used for about 10 hours each day.
The purification technology could also be used in taps and drinking fountains in the world’s developing countries, which would help to make much better use of the limited resource and mitigate water-related illnesses. “Everybody should save as many resources as possible,” says Mahdjoubi, “but obviously these showers would be even more beneficial for people living in areas with water shortages.
Images by Orbital Systems