Environment

ReFlow reuses grey water, saves fresh water

Re-Flow draws shower/bath water from the overflow drain
Re-Flow draws shower/bath water from the overflow drain
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Re-Flow draws shower/bath water from the overflow drain
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Re-Flow draws shower/bath water from the overflow drain
The water is reused to flush the toilet
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The water is reused to flush the toilet
Re-Flow is reportedly simple to install and doesn't cost much
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Re-Flow is reportedly simple to install and doesn't cost much

"Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink." The famous line from the poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge rings increasingly true, as all over the world water shortages threaten the way of life people have grown used to. Climate change and overpopulation have compromised water sources, a threat that calls for ingenious solutions to reduce demand. One of these is the ReFlow G2RSystem (or Re-Flow for short), a system that recycles grey water from the shower or bath to the toilet tank to flush waste.

Designed by a Vancouver-based team, Re-Flow performs a simple task: recycling and re-using the grey water in the same room. The system consists of a compact, decentralized grey-water collection unit, which is claimed to save up to 30 percent of an average household's fresh water consumption.

The collector nozzle connects at the juncture of the overflow drain of the bathtub, to reclaim the drained water back into the ReFlow's water storage tank. This reclaimed water is fed through a filter and disinfected before it's gravity-fed into the back of the toilet tank.

Re-Flow is reportedly simple to install and doesn't cost much
Re-Flow is reportedly simple to install and doesn't cost much

The idea is similar to the OASIS Domestic Greywater Treatment System, a device that turns grey water from a range of domestic activities (including clothes- and hand-washing) into water for garden irrigation, toilet flushing, laundry and car-washing.

The main selling point of the Re-Flow system is its simplicity and unobtrusiveness. The designers say it takes one person and a screwdriver to install it, a job that takes less than one hour. The system can be fitted in and retrofitted to a number of bathroom types, so there’s no need for basement storage or renovation.

There are several benefits. Besides saving water (and reducing bills), it also relieves pressure on municipal sewage, sparing water systems and local ecology. In places like California, which is suffering from severe droughts, an installed ReFlow could come in handy to help citizens deal with the crisis at home.

The makers have developed a successful proof-of-concept prototype. Now they need to develop the components for the system to be mass-produced. The design complies with international planning codes and meets health standards for reclaimed water quality reuse.

The team behind the system is fundraising on Indiegogo to take the project to the next level. To get a ReFlow unit, funding options start at US$800. Delivery is estimated for November, assuming all goes according to plan.

The video below provides more details.

Sources: Reflow, Indiegogo

10 comments
Milton
cool concept. confusing presentation. What is it? How does it work? Why do I need it?
Ralf Biernacki
Several key questions, that the article ought to have addressed: 1. A single shower will supply a lot of gray water. A single flush will use much less. Where is the gray water stored? Because if the answer is "in the toilet tank" then the system will allow only for a single flush, directly after taking a shower or bath, and water savings will be marginal. I can get the same effect by keeping a bucket in the shower stall. Let me rephrase: ReFlow: $800+. A plastic bucket: $2. Same effect. 2. This system needs to pump water up. How is this done? How does the cost of (presumably) electricity compare to cost of saved water? 3. How soon will it recoup? Because if the cost for the unit is $800, plus the cost of electricity, the answer is: "When hell freezes over".
windykites
I can't imagine many people wanting to have that huge white tank in their bathroom.The question is, how much water do you need for flushing the toilet?Not as much as a shower. What else can you use greywater for? Washing the car, and watering the garden. Why not just collect water from the waste pipe after using a washing machine or a dish washer?The water is hot and soapy, and should be okay for washing your car. To water the garden, just Connect an irrigating hose pipe system to the waste pipe from the house, and let gravity do the work. Let's not forget: we just use water, then return it to the system. If the system worked in such a way as to simply collect the return water and clean it, then put it back into the pipes for use, then there should be no water shortage. We only borrow it for a short time. Obviously putting it on the garden would be a small loss. Cutting down water usage to save money will not work in the long term, because the cost per gallon would probably increase.
Bob Flint
1. The overflow drain is intended to be used for the nitwit that forgets to shut off the water or adds too much then gets into the tub and now watches it spill over the sides. 2. This system would have to go down far enough to actually draw from the drain below, also high probability it will suck air, hair, etc. 3. Ugly big tank, taking up space, using power to pump, and purify. 4. Not to mention, JUST USE LESS WATER.
ooglek
You want me to spend $800 to install a device that is 8 feet tall in my bathroom to save what exactly? A few gallons of water a month? 1. You are not solving a problem I have. 2. It would take thousands, maybe millions, of these installed in a single municipality to have any of the effects you purport in your video. 3. I am not interested in placing an obelisk in my bathroom. It's already crowded. 4. You speak nothing about noise -- I don't want an 8 foot obelisk in my bathroom that makes strange noises throughout the day. 5. In my one most-used bathroom it flushes 5 times a day. 1.4 gallons per flush. That's 210 gallons a month. At $0.005 per gallon (excluding service charge for service since I pay that anyway), That's $1.05. The ROI on this device: 63.41 years. 6. I don't have a tub in the bathroom that is most heavily used, nor second-most heavily used. 7. In my 3rd bathroom, the tub is on the opposite wall of the toilet, and there is no floor space for this obelisk. I admire the attempt here, but it seems like this was invented in a vacuum with nobody but environmental fanatics offering input -- "I'll do anything to save a gallon of water!" I live in an suburban neighborhood with city water and sewer. Maybe the math works for other places. But that's a lot of even vertical square footage in order to save a few thousand gallons of water per year, even at 10x the cost per gallon of water (still a 6+ year ROI).
bergamot69
@windykites1, The reason you wouldn't want to reuse water from the washing machine is that it wouldn't necessarily be hot and soapy, unless happen to wash the car at the same time as the machine is draining. Secondly, the chemicals in laundry detergent are not likely to be kind to car bodywork. And dishwasher detergent is pretty caustic- even worse. My doubts around this system would be around the overflow fitting- presumably this disables the overflow from functioning in the event of an over-filled bath. And also where does the device draw its power from? Here in the UK, the only mains electric outlet you'll find is a special shaver socket that contains an isolating transformer- it can only power very low powered devices such as shavers and electric toothbrushes. To legally connect this device to the mains would involve the services of an electrician- not a 1 hour DIY job.
Martin Hone
Where I live in Queensland, Australia we have to use bio cycle sewerage system on our property. All water including grey and black goes into the system where it is treated and the water can be used anywhere in the garden. Been around for years.
PowerBar
I'm noticing a lot of cynicism and low-balling here. If you're not sure of the power requirements of have unanswered questions, why not check out the website or ask them instead of griping? Also, the saving from a system like this is hardly going to meager, as some seem to suggest. According to the EPA, 26.7% of household water usage goes into flushing, whereas 16.8% goes into showering. These are conservative estimates, So if you think that this isn't going to make a difference in our consumption habits, you obviously haven't done your homework. For a one-time cost of $800, this thing would mean a savings of about $180 a year. Which means it will pay itself off after four and a half years and save thousands of liters of freshwater. Don't know if anyone noticed, but we're in a bit of a water crisis right now and it's not getting any better!
Captain Planet
I can easily imagine some of the brighter people from centuries past saying, "Why would I want such a large toilet bowl in my bathroom.... where I am bathing? Get that toilet out of my 'bath'room." Or, I do not want a toilet bowl in my bathroom...I can use a shovel and dirt outside to take care of my business. Now....Ta-Da! The toilet bowl is a fixture in all bathrooms. That said, I can easily see this product/idea (Reflow) becoming a bathroom fixture. It makes sense at 1/3 the cost of the systems on the market today (unless you don't to recycle water to flush toilets....if you wish to use freshwater to flush waste instead of keep you alive...go right ahead and lead the way on that campaign). I can see this is a good solution for everyone...not just home owners... to recycle grey-water...without getting out the buckets. It appears the ney-sayers have not visited the Reflow website or read any other literature (if any) on the system. If they did, they would have discovered the ReFlow was designed (nicely done if you think about it) as a bathroom fixture...not an accessory - this approach (imho) works because it is clear this is a sensible move we all will have to take eventually. The freshwater level is getting lower by the day...and flushing waste with freshwater you need to live is not a good idea....bucket or no bucket. I found answers to your questions (on their site) before three sips of my coffee. Where are you guys reading? The inventor from what I have read is not a government fanatic. He was a teacher before he became an inventor. And from his bio he seems to be doing much more to help the world & freshwater crisis than criticizing others trying...and he's put up a good showing so far - Kudos.
Wakeup Call
It's criminal to flush a toilet with clean, purified drinking water. Half the population of the planet scrambles every day for a few drops of filthy water to drink and cook with, and we in the developed world use litres of purified drinking water to flush our crap away. That's insane! Is this product a silver bullet? Nope. There's no such thing. Is it perfect? Not by a long shot. But it's a huge step in the right direction. And as a retrofit for millions of existing bathrooms, it's a great idea. It represents a shift in material thinking and a shift in consciousness. And we certainly need both.
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