Sunday, 8 July 2007

Saving Water with a Hybrid Shower

Here in Melbourne the state premier Steve Bracks will increase water prices to pay for new desalination plants to be built. Australia is currently undergoing a drought and as such governments have been trying to persuade citizens to use less water.

The Toyota Prius hybrid car already saves energy by capturing energy while you drive. This captured energy is stores in batteries that work simultaneously with the petrol internal combustion engine to make the car more powerful. Many people think that hybrid cars are slow, and most are because many who buy hybrids tend to want better fuel economy. However, while the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight may be fuel misers, cars like the Lexus LS600h and the Lexus GS400h use the hybrid motor not really as an addition to the car that will improve fuel economy (although it does) but mainly as an addition to the car that will increase power and low-end torque. Having a hybrid car then is like having a turbocharger or supercharger on your car. The difference is that although the hybrid captures lost energy and redirects it for useful ends, the turbocharger or supercharger merely provides more power to the car at the expense of fuel consumption. Some cars like Saabs are all turbocharged. Many of these turbochargers are added to small engines and the cars aren't really fast compared to, say, a Bugatti Veyron, but they because the turbocharger squeezes more power out then a smaller engine can be used. The same concept applies with the hybrid. Anyway, I have completely gone off the topic.

In the same way that hybrids conserve energy, so too showers can conserve water. Why not have a hybrid shower? Quite simply you reuse shower water. For some people this is disgusting, but most of the time I spend in the shower I spend just standing there and doing nothing. The water that goes into the drain is still very clean and can be used again. It is a shame that it goes to waste. What I don't like though is the thought that if I do use recycled water that I'll be using someone else's recycled water, and so if this hybrid technology is implemented in the house then I want separate water storage tanks for different people. I will also want to be able to control when water goes into these storage tanks. I do lots in the shower: shampoo my hair, brush my teeth, and even urinate. When I am reusing my own shower water, I do not want last shower's shampoo, plaque, toothpaste, and urine going all over me. I want to be able to control when the water goes into the storage tank or not. Obviously with these health scares this idea, if it is ever commercially available, will present a challenge in terms of litigation and government health standards.

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