Grey water toilet system reuses shower water with every flush

grey-water-toilet-system3.jpg

This toilet system is so environmentally ingenious that I don’t know why it hasn’t been standard for years: shower, sink and bath water is collected and pumped into the in-wall tank of the toilet to be reused for flushing. Even if no flushing occurs, the water tank automatically empties itself every twenty four hours to prevent bacterial growth, with the extra precautionary measure of a constant bombardment of low-powered ultrasonic ultraviolet radiation.

Thumbs up for offering a simple way to cut down on water usage with negligible personal impact. Double thumbs up for not reversing the concept.

Grey water toilet system by Alison Norcott [Design Awards via Freshome]

Update: The page says “ultrasonic” but that’s likely a typo, as many commenters have suggested.

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21 Responses to Grey water toilet system reuses shower water with every flush

  1. dustbuster7000 says:

    All new toilets (domestic) fitted in Australia have been require to be dual flush for at least a decade, maybe two. Combine that with the ‘brick in the cistern’ method and you can save a lot of water. Unfortunately, many US toilets have a different hydraulic design which might make the brick idea unsuitable. I should try it and find out.

  2. urshrew says:

    Color me impressed.

    That’s what we need, clever designs that increase efficiency and decrease use.

  3. Chrs says:

    Ultrasonic… radiation? I mean, technically I guess any radiation is going to be ultrasonic, since it’s traveling at light speed, but they probably mean ultraviolet.

    Anyway, wonderful execution of this concept! The idea’s been around for quite a while, but there are a lot of practical improvements here that might make people actually use it.

  4. Angstrom says:

    I misread this as a system to re-use your toilet water as a shower.
    Thankfully it’s the other way around

  5. jjasper says:

    Chris -technically, the term radiation means any energy in motion passing from one place to another, so you can have acoustic radiation. But the question is, how the heck would it stop bacterial growth? Perhaps by preventing the water from becoming motionless?

  6. gouldina says:

    That’s great but I do this myself low tech stylee by having a bath every morning (nowhere near full, probably using less water than most people’s showers I would guess) and using that water to (a) shave with (b) flush the toilet using a large plastic bowl.

  7. woolie says:

    They probably mean ultraviolet radiation, which is commonly used for sterilization.

  8. dculberson says:

    Too bad the bowl is missing one side; my poo would fall on the floor!

  9. guy_jin says:

    so I guess peeing in the shower is right out?

  10. technogeek says:

    The concept of grey-water reuse has been floating around for a long time; interesting to see someone finally doing an elegant version.

    Pity this would be, if you’ll excuse the pun, a Royal pain to retrofit into existing construction.

  11. jimkirk says:

    Shelby,

    They have something like that at our local Ted Turner’s Montana Grill. Lift the handle for #1, push down for #2, and the handle is anti-microbial.

    Not sure were they get them.

  12. nehpetsE says:

    Only half of your poo would fall on the floor, silly!

  13. Robabob says:

    dculberson I almost fell off my chair when I read your comment, that made my day!

  14. dculberson says:

    I can say that high energy ultrasonic is very uncomfortable to be around. An ultrasonic cleaner isn’t a big deal, but a Branson Sonifier is pain on a stick. A big, threaded, stainless steel stick that shouldn’t be turned on unless it’s firmly in the correct fitting.

  15. bardfinn says:

    The hurdle to adoption is often legislative rather than technical: Try getting a plumbing permit variance waiver from a dominionist global-warming-denier Christian planning commissioner for something “hippy-dippy”. Especially when it undercuts his cousin’s plumbing business.

  16. Shelby Davis says:

    Christian dominionist here: That thing is awesome. I wonder if it would be possible to make it with a switch specifying g/lpf, so I don’t use enough water to flush feces when all I want to do is rinse away some urine? I’ve been wondering for years why toilets didn’t have that feature.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The funny part is that a similar system has been standard in Japan for decades. The sink to wash your hands in a large number of Japanese homes is built into the tank of the toilet so that the grey water fills the tank. You wash your hands in the water for the next flush. There is a LOT that we could learn about ecological impact from the Japanese.

  18. JOEL1967 says:

    This is a good idea, but have some plumbing experiance I see the following problems.

    (1.)The water from sinks and showers have soap and oils in them this could create a build up in the plumbing,pump and storage tank.

    (2.) Their site shows a S trap behind the toilet these are dangerous and illegal.

    (3.) I’m unsure about the connection from fresh water to the tank containing used grey water, but I’m reasonable sure some type of air gap or break would be needed to insure that the fresh water was not contaminated.

    (4.) The pump and flushing system needs to accessed for repair or replacement, which would make it difficult to use in a apartment setting because in most apartment baths are set back to back.

    (5.) What happens if the power goes out for a week like in cases of a ice storm ? No power to pump or dump tank. If the tank freezes will it burst ?

    Sorry point this out, but it needs some tweeking.

  19. Andreas says:

    Ultrasound can in fact be used to kill bacteria: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultrasound#Ultrasonic_disintegration

    That would make the use of the word irradiation a bit off, though.

  20. Takuan says:

    triple what you charge for water and watch usage drop by half.

  21. Bugs says:

    JJasper (4)

    Chris -technically, the term radiation means any energy in motion passing from one place to another, so you can have acoustic radiation. But the question is, how the heck would it stop bacterial growth? Perhaps by preventing the water from becoming motionless?

    Actually, I think you can use ultrasonic waves to keep water clean. We have a machine in my lab called a “sonicator” that sends strong ultrasonic waves through a liquid. This tears all the cells in the sample open, allowing easy extraction of DNA, protein, etc. You can use it to liquify small chunk of tissue too, so it’d do a great job of killing bacteria in a toilet bowl.

    I’ve no idea which one would be more plausible. UV light would probably be cheaper, but ultrasonic waves would cope better with less-than-perfectly-clear water.

    Shelby Davis (12)

    I wonder if it would be possible to make it with a switch specifying g/lpf, so I don’t use enough water to flush feces when all I want to do is rinse away some urine? I’ve been wondering for years why toilets didn’t have that feature.

    They seem very common around continental Europe: press one button (or lever) for a short flush, the other for a long flush. A minority of toilets in the UK have this too; it seems to be a pretty common choice for new installations.

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