Solar Power isn't Feasible!

Solar Power isn't Feasible!
This cartoon was on the cover of the book "SolarGas" by David Hoye. It echoes the Sharp Solar slogan "Last time I checked nobody owned the sun!"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Continuing refinements to the "endless shower" system.

Imagine if you could take a 10 minute hot shower  every day using only the amount of hot water that fills the green watering can pictured above (2 gallons or about 8 liters).  Imagine how much water, energy and money that would save you... imagine how much greenhouse gas reduction it would permit if we all did it!  Imagine if we could give everybody their right to enjoy bathing in clean hot water every day.  Imagine the effect on health and hygiene and comfort and well-being. Imagine the impact on productivity and dignity. Imagine the end of water wars...
In my obsessive empirical studies of hot water demand and dogged persistence toward the goal of adequate clean fresh water for everyone I have developed and started using a recycling shower system. People ask, "how can you take a shower using the same water over and over for 10 minutes?" I ask "how does it differ from taking a bath?" Actually, the recirculating shower I developed, which has an inline filter, is cleaner and more flexible.  
Tonight, after "spelunking" on my belly and back in the crawl space under the house with a video camera and lights looking for places to hook up the graywater system that will turn all shower and bath water into edible landscape irrigation, I washed off the grime and dust and cobwebs using my recycling shower with a new "bucket" technique. The yield: a nice 10 minute hot shower using only 2 gallons (7.5 to 8  liters) of water.
 I'm liking it more and more every day myself. Still can't get over how simple it is to cut water and energy consumption by up to 10 times with NO sacrifice in utility or lifestyle quality. I remember that one of the thing that cost Jimmy Carter the presidency was the misperception that he wanted us to "stay in thedark and wear sweaters" and Obama was ridiculed for saying we should keep our tires inflated to reduce energy consumption. The "bourgeoisie" everywhere (not just America) do NOT want to sacrifice, not even to save their own civilization.  So I'm looking for solutions that require little or no sacrifice at all but simply DO MORE WITH LESS. This one is almost scary in how obvious it is. Am I the only person doing this? I can't believe it. If you are reading this please give it a try so we are at least two and can compare notes...
My thesis research shows that most under-capitalized Cairo residents living in Manshiyet Nasser (where 60 % of the population heat bathing water on the stove) and Darb Al Ahmar (where 25 % of the population heats bathing water on the stove) use 10 or 20 liters per person per bath. The limiting factors are the size of the containers people can safely put on their stove (anything over 20 liters weights too much) and the amount of time people are willing to wait to heat it (10 liters can be heated in 5 to 10 minutes, 20 liters can take 20 minutes to a half an hour, depending on the strength of the stove flame). The water used is then slowly poured over the body, pausing to lather up. The most frustrating thing is when you miscalculate the amount of water you have left and can't get all the soap and shampoo off of you or out of your hair.

This invention is targeted at those who are limited to 10 liters, which, when recycled, provides adequate water to bath and clean for 10 minutes of CONTINUOUS showering -- no pausing in the cold to lather up. The first 3 to 5 liters can be used to rinse off all the soap and discarded down the drain. The next 7 to 8 liters can be used to luxuriate. in the shower, enjoying the warmth. Note the water only needs to be heated the once. A normal shower of that length would consume 40 to 50 liters of hot water.
My goal initially  is to create a useful, replicable system for families in Darb Al Ahmar (like us) and Manshiyet Nasser who heat water on the stove and are restricted to using a 10 liter bastila. With this system that 10 liter bastila can be brought to 40 degrees (bath temp) in about 10 minutes and then one can stand in the ... Read Moreshower using it for 10 minutes -- imagine a hot shower for 10 minutes using only 10 liters of water. Normally we use 40 to 50 liters for a shower of that length (and Americans use 100 liters for a shower of that length!). We, of course, heat our water using a solar hot water heater we built. We get 200 liters of hot water from the sun every day, and now need only 20 of that each day for me and my wife to take long hot showers. That leaves a huge surplus of hot water for washing clothes and dishes and cleaning and we can splurge and fill the bathtub! My bathroom redesign hopefully will make it all turn-key and replicable everywhere.

In my song "Maey, Oh Maey, the water song" ( I claim that since we live on a water planet we shouldn't ever have to worry about water scarcity. Now that I've got showering down to 8 liters for 10 minutes of luxury I think I can recycle that 8 liters through my shmutzdecke slow sand filter for re-use the next day or so. Then we've got to take these solutions on the road in India and Egypt  again.
The next step is to "prettify" this system so that it is easy to install and use without disrupting the bathroom.  No tubes, visible pumps or batteries or buckets.  I've already made progress toward this.  The battery is already solar powered and easily recharged with a small 25 watt foldable panel like we took on tour of Morrocco and India. The system is entirely portable and can be taken with you anywhere in the world to be used in homes, hotels and even out in the field when camping.  Only the aesthetics need to be improved.
I'll keep you posted!

1 comment:

toridei said...

WOW I love this one ...four thumbs up....looking forward to see more on those eco-bathing he he...


Toridei- Indonesia