AROUND THE HOME Orbital Systems’ recycling shower claims to conserve 90% of its water

A Swedish technology company called Orbital Systems is tackling the issue of water conservation with a new household shower that purifies any water that goes down the drain and sends it back to the shower head. By the company’s estimations, its closed-loop system could retain over 90 percent of the water and 80 percent of the energy consumed by an ordinary shower.


The OrbSys Shower, as the creators have been calling it, is fairly simple in concept, but requires some cutting-edge technology to function properly. To recycle the water coming out of it, a sophisticated filtering system and pump is fitted directly beneath the shower drain in the floor. As the soapy, used water flows into the drain, it’s immediately purified and pumped right back into the shower to be re-used again and again. It’s a similar system to the kind astronauts use on space shuttles, which may explain why Orbital Systems has collaborated with the Johnson Space Center at NASA on the project. Read more

Scientists accidentally create nanorods that harvest water from the air


Researchers have accidentally created nanorods that can absorb water at low humidity and expel it as the humidity increases

Learning from your mistakes is a key life lesson, and it’s one that researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) can attest to. After unintentionally creating carbon-rich nanorods, the team realized its accidental invention behaves weirdly with water, demonstrating a 20-year old theory and potentially paving the way to low-energy water harvesting systems and sweat-removing fabrics. Read more

Asia-Pacific ‘hot spot for water insecurity’

Economies in the Asia-Pacific region cannot sustain their present dynamic growth “unless water is brought into the equation” as the region faces a “crisis” in securing and managing the prime resource.


A comprehensive report on water development in Asia-Pacific just released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says that it is now “the global hot spot for water insecurity”.

Up to 3.4 billion people could be living in water-stressed areas of Asia by 2050, says the report, citing data from a study conducted by the Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Several countries in the region — Afghanistan, China, India, Pakistan and Singapore — are projected to have the lowest per capita water availability by 2050. Read more

Developing world advances nanotech for clean water

Water shortages, unreliable water supplies and poor water quality are major obstacles to sustainable development. Millions of children die each year due to water shortages or exposure to water-related diseases. And the UN predicts that by 2025, more than one third of the world’s population — over 3.5 billion people — will face severe water shortages.


Nanotechnology can help alleviate these problems by offering new techniques and equipment for conducting water research as well as new purification methods.

While some nanotech water treatments are being developed in Europe, Japan and the United States — researchers at US-based Rice University have, for example, created a nano-based product to remove arsenic from water supplies (see ‘Nanotechnology for clean water: Facts and figures’) — developing countries too are investing in research to harness nanotechnology for clean water. Read more

Scepticism slows spread of solar disinfection tech

Local mistrust is slowing take up of simple innovations that use sunlight to disinfect water, a UK conference has heard.


Researchers working on low-cost, low-tech water purification systems for developing countries are struggling to convince local people that their solutions work, the EuroScience Open Forum heard yesterday.

“We do not think enough about this. That’s why solar disinfection remains among the least-used technologies in this field.” Kevin McGuigan, Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland

This is because most communities prefer to use known technologies, such as ceramic filters and chemicals, to clean their water and make it safe to drink, scientists said. Read more