The Shower Of The Future Cuts Water Waste To Almost Nothing

Designed in Sweden, the OrbSys recycles the water at your feet and cleanses it to drinking quality.

Showering is fun, but it does rack up the water bill. The average family goes through 40 gallons of water a day in the shower.

We've come across a few ways to monitor and manage showers recently, including this simple warning device. But Mehrdad Mahdjoubi's solution is more comprehensive. It's a water-saving design that is included from the ground up, not as an add-on.

The OrbSys is an all-in-one unit that recycles water at your feet, cleanses it to drinking quality, then returns it for re-use. Mahdjoubi says a 10-minute shower uses only five liters (1.3 gallons) compared to a standard 150 liters (40 gallons). It also saves 80% in energy costs, because the recycled water remains warm and doesn't need much reheating. Orbital Systems, the company developing the product, says a San Francisco family taking two 10-minute showers a day could save $731.72 a year.

Mahdjoubi came up with the idea while studying at the University of Lund in Sweden, before setting up with an incubator in Malmo. He's since worked with NASA (which is interested in less water-intensive ideas for space flight) and received investment from Niklas Zennström, the founder of Skype. Orbital installed its first showers at a communal bathing house near Malmo this summer.

In an interview with CNN, Mahdjoubi said he wants to sell the OrbSys around the world (including places that are particularly water-short), and develop other closed-loop systems, say for fountains.

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  • John J. Kelly

    Fascinating article but short on details. How does the little canister in the video manage to cleanse the used shower water quickly enough to recirculate in real time.

    Remember, the water that runs off your body during a shower contains sweat, dirt, fecal matter, urine, and mucus not to mention fermenting toe jam. How long do the canisters last between replacement and how much energy is used to reheat and recirculate the water?

    If the shower really works as described, then no need to dump water down the drain between users. Just reuse the same 5 gallons of water all day, week or month. That would be revolutionary. EZ John

  • Aron Blume

    Excellent idea, and like so many great ones, was right there at our fingertips (or toe-tips actually), but true genius sees as obvious what everyone is oblivious to. Can't wait to see this implemented and mandated in every shower in every household, hotel room, gym etc. One day it will be in the building code for sure, as water becomes scarcer around the world. Great job.