Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Futuristic water-recycling shower cuts bills by over $1,000

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Swedish designer Mehrdad Mahdjoubi has developed a shower that recycles water
  • OrbSys Shower saves more than 90% water and 80% energy while you wash
  • It could save users over $1000 a year and help people living in areas with a shortage of water

(CNN) -- In space, astronauts go for years without a fresh supply of water. Floating in a capsule in outer space they wash and drink from the same continuously recycled source. So why, asked Swedish industrial designer Mehrdad Mahdjoubi, do we not do the same on Earth?

This was the concept behind the OrbSys Shower -- a high-tech purification system that recycles water while you wash. In the eyes of Mahdjoubi, we should start doing it now, before it becomes a necessity.

So how does it work? Similar to space showers, it works on a "closed loop system:" hot water falls from the tap to the drain and is instantly purified to drinking water standard and then pumped back out of the showerhead. As the process is quick, the water remains hot and only needs to be reheated very slightly.

OrbSys shower recycles water as you wash  OrbSys shower recycles water as you wash
OrbSys shower recycles water as you washOrbSys shower recycles water as you wash
Inventor claims there is no compromise on water pressure  Inventor claims there is no compromise on water pressure
Inventor claims there is no compromise on water pressureInventor claims there is no compromise on water pressure
The closed loop system  The closed loop system
The closed loop system The closed loop system

Read: Green machine -- Intelligent robot system recycles waste

As a result, it saves more than 90% in water usage and 80% in energy every time you shower, while also producing water that is cleaner than your average tap.

"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," explains Mahdjoubi.

According to research carried out by his company, Orbital Systems, these savings translate to at least €1000 ($1351) off your energy bills each year.

Mahdjoubi proposed the OrbSys shower while studying Industrial Design at the University of Lund in Sweden. His concept formed part of a collaborative project with NASA's Johnson Space Center, which looks to drive design concepts that could potentially assist space expeditions.

"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.

Read: Edible wrapping could wipe out waste

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 1.2 trillion gallons of water are used every year for showering in the United States alone. And yet, rather disturbingly, across the world more than three times the population of the States lacks access to any clean water at all.

The concept of a water-saving shower is by no means a new one, but when CNN's Blueprint team caught up with Mahdjoubi at his offices in Malmo, southern Sweden, he explained that because it doesn't compromise on comfort, it's different to the rest. It has a higher than average water pressure and a very stable flow because, unlike conventional showers, it works independently from other appliances.

Exoskeleton gives you super strength
Origami-inspired kayak unfolds from box

This year, his showers were installed for the first time in Ribersborgs Kallbadhus, a coastal bathing house in Sweden. During the summer months more than 1000 bathers come and swim waters rich with plankton, algae and seaweed, before showering off.

"It's not just an exotic environment for application but it's an extreme field test because the showers are on pretty much constantly, for about 10 hours per day... and the feedback has been good."

Read: The smart streetlamps that save energy

At the bathing house, CNN introduced Mahdjoubi to Danish industrial designer Nille Juul- Sørensen, who recently designed Malmo's Triangeln train station. Juul- Sørensen was keen to talk about the wider potential of Mahdjoubi's design: "My interest is not in the objects but in the system. There will be so many applications for this."

If deployed on a bigger scale, the purification technology developed for OrbSys could be used in taps and drinking fountains in the world's developing countries, where water-related illness is rife. "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.

"I want to get it to as many people as possible. 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."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Liquidity lightbulbs at the Milan Furniture Show 2012
See the full coverage of CNN's Blueprint -- a new series exploring the very latest design and technology trends.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 1901 GMT (0301 HKT)
A swat team assess risk before raiding a building
A baseball-sized shock absorbent camera that can be thrown into a disaster zone to assess risks posed to rescuers.
November 11, 2013 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Astronauts wash and drink from the same continuously recycled source for years. So why do we not do the same on Earth?
October 25, 2013 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
The Titan Arm
A new strap-on external bicep called the Titan Arm allows humans to lift very heavy objects by giving them instant super strength.
October 11, 2013 -- Updated 1256 GMT (2056 HKT)
See the origami kayak take shape in our 40-second time lapse video.
September 27, 2013 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
The Seaboard is a musical instrument like a keyboard that allows you to bend the pitch and volume of each note.
The 'Seaboard keyboard' is a tech forward interpretation of the piano, that reimagines what a keyboard can do.
September 19, 2013 -- Updated 1856 GMT (0256 HKT)
Phonebloks smartphone
What if you could build your own smartphone that would last you for the rest of your life?
September 17, 2013 -- Updated 0849 GMT (1649 HKT)
3D printed gun
Why did the Victoria and Albert Museum in London acquire two models of the world's first 3D-printed gun?
September 13, 2013 -- Updated 1009 GMT (1809 HKT)
It looks like a regular bike light, but one day Emily Brooke's Blaze light could save your life.
September 10, 2013 -- Updated 1001 GMT (1801 HKT)
After months of hype and speculation, the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch arrived this week with a bang... followed by a whimper.
September 2, 2013 -- Updated 1616 GMT (0016 HKT)
ARMAR is the ultimate sous chef. He'll bring you ingredients from the fridge and after you've made lots of mess he'll load the dishwasher and clean the surfaces. He's just one of a growing army of robo-chefs that are shaping the future of our kitchens.
Your cooking partner is a robot, your fridge can talk, and your plate is your own personal dietician. This is the kitchen of the future
August 21, 2013 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
Sound on Intution: sensors attach to your hands,feet and heart to produce music that responds to movement
August 15, 2013 -- Updated 1027 GMT (1827 HKT)
Not only did Unger have to contend with the typical design challenges of aesthetics and manufacturability, she also needed to become an expert in the reproductive habits of flies.
In 2050, when nine billion people are living on Earth, will high-protein insects be a part of our staple diet?
August 13, 2013 -- Updated 1301 GMT (2101 HKT)
He's invented breathable food, flavor clouds and olfactory telephones. Now David Edwards is bringing edible food-packaging to the table.
August 13, 2013 -- Updated 1031 GMT (1831 HKT)
ASAP is a solar-powered life-saving machine that's cheaper, greener and more efficient than a traditional Jet Ski
August 5, 2013 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
Transparent dresses, vacuum shoes, shark-proof wetsuits and more. We imagine a day in the life of a wearable technology user in the year 2015.
July 29, 2013 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Europe spends $13 billion annually on fueling street lights. With a new system called 'Tvilight', streetlamps can sense the arrival of a person.
August 5, 2013 -- Updated 0919 GMT (1719 HKT)
The earthquake-proof table can combat a ton of falling debris and provides reliable protection for people taking shelter during an earthquake
ADVERTISEMENT