SAUSALITO, CALIF.—Is a spa-like shower experience with 90 percent less water consumption and 80 percent less energy consumption possible in a hotel guestroom shower? According to shower system innovator Orbital Systems, it has proven to be very possible—thanks to founder Mehrdad Mahdjoubi’s work with the NASA Mars missions. The company that has U.S. offices in Sausalito, Calif. says it already has 45 installations, including some hotels. The U.S. version of the Oas shower will be available in mid-September.
“When an Orbital is recycling the water, it goes into a receptacle that analyzes the purity of the water. That purity is measured 20 times a second. If the water is higher than a certain threshold, it is dumped down the drain. Most of the water people use is clean enough to go through our system.”
To get to such a high efficiency, Orbital Systems has developed a water recirculation and filtering system that immediately takes draining water in a receptacle, analyzes it 20 times per second for impurities and then pumps it back through a filter for immediate reuse before much of the heat is lost. The recirculated water coming out of the shower, which also passes through a UV filter, is actually cleaner than the water that originally came out. If for some reason the water quality is not pure enough, it is dumped down the drain. “Most of the water people use is clean enough to go through our system,” says B.G. Weiss, V.P. of U.S. Operations for Orbital Systems, adding that the system also goes through a brief cleaning cycle between uses.
A Stronger Shower Experience
The constant recycling of the water allows for the substantial water and energy savings while also delivering up to 30 percent more water flow—the equivalent of increasing shower flow from 1.8 gallons per minute (gpm) to 2.5 gpm.
An Oas housing panel hides the core technology managing ongoing water purification, temperature correction and flow adjustment. It can be integrated into the wall or mounted to it and is easy to clean. In a typical hotel room filters will need to be replaced every three or four months. The Oas control wheel gives one fingertip control of the shower temperature, and starts and stops Oas at a gentle touch. Shower temperature is displayed on the wheel’s face. The Oas handheld nozzle offers the exact same flow and pressure as the shower head.
“We have two versions of the Oas shower system—one built for retrofits and one for new construction,” Weiss says.
Data Accessible Via an App
Orbital’s Oas shower system feeds shower data and savings to an Oas app, giving hoteliers the ability to monitor water use and savings by room, floor or entire hotel, in real-time. Data can also be displayed in rooms and hotel lobbies, affirming the hotel’s commitment to water conservation and sustainability. The app also allows one to see when a filter needs to be changed.
When asked about the cost per system, Weiss quoted $3,000 but that could be discounted with multiple purchases. The expected return on investment is two to two and one-half years—primarily from the energy savings. While sizeable rebates are currently available in Asia, they are not yet offered in the United States.
“So far the market has been really positive,” Weiss says, adding that one large hotel in Las Vegas could save as much as one billion gallons of water a year with the Oas shower system.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.