Patent of the Month of September

01/09/2020
  Shower Copyright: Pixabay

Water savings with closed-loop space-age shower

Water is becoming scarce in Germany! This is one of the dramatic effects of the climate crisis after three hot summers in a row. Data from the Center for Environmental Research clearly show that there is now an "exceptional drought" in some regions. Besides agriculture and forestry, the drinking water supply is also under threat. It is time to act and to save water!

Industrial designer Mehrdad Mahdjoubi has taken a big step in this direction. The "Oas" shower system he developed consumes up to 90% less water and 80% less energy than a conventional shower using a closed-loop water circuit. For his sophisticated idea, the Swedish inventor has been nominated as a finalist for the European Inventor Award 2018 in the category "Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. The corresponding European Patent EP2793667B1, granted in 2016 is hence our patent of the month!

As with many new technologies, space research was the inspiration for this project. It was while working with NASA on its "Journey to Mars" project at the Johnson Space Center in 2012, that the then student of industrial design at Lund University in Sweden conceived his idea for the Oas. When he was working on resource-saving solutions for space travel, he became aware of how important sustainability is for life on earth and recognized the great savings potential of shower systems.

While other consumer devices like washing machines and dishwashers became increasingly efficient in terms of water and energy consumption, the amount of water used in an average shower has been remaining stagnant in Europe for decades at around 10 liters per minute, that is 100 liters of water for a 10-minute showering process. A big waste, since most of the water that goes into the drains is hardly polluted. In contrast, Mahdjoubi's pioneering closed-loop shower circulates as little as five litres of water per shower without any loss of showering comfort!

How does it work? Mahdjoubi's technical solution consists of a system that conserves water by purifying it in "real time". Water quality is determined by measuring the conductivity, which grows with rising contamination. Cleaning is done by various filters: micron filters remove larger particles such as dirt and skin, UV filters neutralise microorganisms and molecules. Excessively dirty water is detected by the system, automatically rinsed out and replaced. Once the shower is done, the system flushes out the water and replaces it with a fresh supply for the next user.

A further benefit is the low energy consumption. On its way back into the shower head, the water is heated to the desired temperature. As the temperature of the water drops just a few degrees from showerhead to drain, only a small amount of energy is required to bring it back up to temperature. Sudden changes in temperature or pressure as unpleasant showering experiences do not occur in a closed-loop. An app informs Oas users about their water and energy consumption, and give alerts when filters need to be changed and returned for recycling.

The inventor Mehrdad Mahdjoubi was also successful as an entrepreneur. In 2012, he founded Orbital Systems, a company based in Malmö, which commercially launched the Oas worldwide in 2017. Forbes Magazine ranked Mahdjoubi among the "30 under 30" of the most successful young entrepreneurs and business figures in the world. Other awards followed, for example the German Design Award for Excellent Product Design in Bath & Wellness in 2018.

By the way: Nominations for the European Inventor Award 2020 are closed by now. As a consequence of the current corona situation, the event has been postponed from 2020 to 2021. The announcement will be made in May 2021 and the awards ceremony is scheduled to take place in Monaco on 17 June 2021.

PNZ Aachen wishes your ideas a long-lasting success!

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Sources (de):
Europäisches Patentamt Erfinderpreis 2018
https://www.epo.org/news-events/press/releases/archive/2018/20180424i_de.html
https://www.epo.org/news-events/events/european-inventor/finalists/2018/mahdjoubi_de.html
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oc7tcVWUd34&list=PLgDlswd0__eIFADVBeQLsYzK0lrI_bXFa&index=11&t=0s

Fachpresse:
https://www.bba-online.de/aktuell/meldungen/ressourcenschonende-kreislaufdusche/
https://www.baulinks.de/webplugin/2018/1176.php4

Zentrum für Umweltforschung:
https://www.ufz.de/index.php?de=37937