This recycling device will be used to reduce water consumption through a five-step filtration system. Courtesy of Dustin Kash

In a response to California’s recent drought and the rise of tiny homes, two alumni have created a new water recycling system. Catered to tiny homes and RVs, Dustin Kash and Chris O’Day’s project aims to help reduce water consumption through reusing water from showers, kitchens and gardens.

Kash and O’Day both graduated with degrees in engineering and work for Sangha Energy, a company that creates “custom energy solutions” for unconventional living spaces and emergency situations. Currently, the company does not list water recycling in their catalogue, but Kash and O’Day said they hope to change that.

The pair’s device aims to recycle greywater, or used household water besides that in the toilet. The average Californian uses around 181 gallons of water each day and most of this turns into greywater. Through the device’s five-step filtration system, greywater is easily cleaned and can be recycled to use for anything except consumption.

“We wanted to imitate nature,” Kash said. “We realized how little resources we actually need.”

How it works

The device uses filtration methods inspired by streams and rivers, such as gravel and purifying through evaporation. Sludge settling, anaerobic processes and natural microbes all do the work of purifying. Sludge settling is a similar process to silt settling in a river; bigger debris sinks to the bottom of the system, leaving cleaner water than before. Anaerobic processes consist of tiny anaerobic organisms breaking down organic matter in the water naturally. Natural microbes do the same on a microscopic scale.The process is low-energy and doesn’t require constant filter changing, thus reducing waste.

Along with these natural processes, Kash and O’Day’s system uses old filtration techniques as well. Gravels and fine rocks filter bacteria and particles when water is run through it. The same is true with sand and charcoals. Kash and O’Day have compacted this process, including all of these techniques in one small machine, in layers ranging from the bigger gravels to microscopic sludge settling and anaerobic processes.

Tiny trends and the future

Along the lines of waste reduction, the Kash and O’Day’s system is inspired by the recent “tiny home” trend, where people live in small houses in order to limit waste and clutter. Many tiny home residents are already recycling water, such as blogger Laura Lavoie, who runs “Life in 120 Feet.” Lavoie uses potted flowers and gravels to filter her water. The system eliminates the need for huge and complicated systems, becoming easier and more efficient as filtration is compacted into the tiny system.

“We’re focusing on tiny homes because that’s where we see the demand,” said Kash.”It’ll have to be scaled up for residential homes.”

That’s not to say that the system will never be scaled up for residential and commercial use. In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown ordered the first mandatory water restrictions in California’s history, requiring businesses and homes to reduce water use by 25 percent. In April of 2017 the water reduction requirement was retracted, but California still needs to tread carefully.

Kash and O’Day may aid in California’s drought problems by starting the widespread use of water recycling systems.

Kash and O’Day are currently prototyping the system and plan to set up a crowdfunding in the next few months on IndieGoGo. The finished product is expected to cost around $1,000 retail for owners of tiny homes, and the eventual vision is to scale it up for residential use.

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