With last summer's record heat and prolonged drought still fresh on our minds, we bring you news of the WaterStep M-100 Chlorinator. This may just be a game changer.
The device is the result of a collaboration between GE, the non-profit WaterStep and a handful of volunteers. Built in the garage of GE engineer Steve Froelicher (and with help from fellow engineer Sam DePlessis), the M-100 has been over a year in the making.
Essentially, the invention uses electrolysis -- generated by table salt and a car battery -- to produce chlorine gas, which then disinfects contaminated water to make it drinkable.
According to the organization's website, the M-100 Chlorinator is capable of generating enough chlorine to disinfect 38,000 liters of water per day -- enough for about 10,000 people.
What does this have to do with home improvement, you may ask? Those of you living in the central states who took the brunt of last summer's droughts know the seriousness of the water shortage issue. If last summer was as portentous as some would have us believe, a device like the M-100 may be a must-have for communities in the future. Or, if things get real bad, individual homes.
Waderport Corp. - a water heating technology company - just announced the completion of a microwave energy tank-less water heater built with the company's proprietary microwave heat-engine technology.
Considered by the company to be the first of its kind worldwide, the unit -- which is best known as the "multi-cavity microwave heating unit -- uses microwave energy or radio frequency to heat water, rather than traditional heat elements and thermal transfer. According to a company spokesman, the unit has the potential to compete with other efficient water heaters on the market both from an energy saving standpoint and, eventually, a price standpoint.
A third party laboratory is currently performing testing and analysis on the unit to confirm the company's "informal efficiency claims." So it looks like we'll have to wait and see just how efficient this new technology is.
Flushing efficiency. It's a challenge for all toilet manufacturers. Since Congress mandated a 1.6 gallons per flush (gfp) maximum almost two decades ago, toilet companies have been trying to do more with less. After all, what's the point of a toilet that uses only .8 gpf if you have to flush it three times to get the job done?
Enter the world of toilet accessories. No, we're not talking fancy handles or chromed-out parts. We're talking easy-to-install valves that take an ordinary toilet and make it, well, extraordinary.
Or at least more efficient.
The FlushAll is the newcomer on the block, a $20 "high performance valve" that provides 40% more flushing power with less water. According to the company, a home can save 2,500 gallons of water per year, per toilet. It all adds up, folks.
About 13,000 Navien Instantaneous (or Tankless) Water Heaters were recently recalled due to a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to the CPSC, the water heaters were found to have an unstable connection that causes the vent collar to separate or detach if pressure is applied. The detached vent collar poses the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Fortunately there have not been any incidents or injuries reported.
Consumers who own a recalled unit should immediately contact Navien to schedule a free repair. In instances where use of the recalled unit is continued while waiting for the repair, a carbon monoxide alarm should be installed outside all the sleeping areas of the home.
The toilet may not seem like the most likely place to find technological innovation, but that hasn't stopped manufacturers from making it so. Automatic flushing, seats that raise up and down on their own, even calming music -- it's all found its way into the porcelain perch.
But those perks come with a price. Hi-tech toilets tend to come with a sticker that can be, for lack of a better word, shocking.
Manufacturer Brondell has taken steps to change that reality with the release of the Swash 300, a wirelessly controlled bidet toilet seat that sells for $249.
The Swash 300 also features an adjustable heated seat with an integrated slow closing "slam free" seat and lid. The anti-bacterial dual nozzle system is also adjustable in both pressure and temperature.
As one of EPA's WaterSense Partners of the Year for 2011 it's no surprise that Delta Faucet is leading the way in water-saving technology. At this week's Greenbuild 2011 in Toronto, Delta displayed their latest in touch-activated and hands-free bathroom faucets.
Featuring their innovative Touch2O Technology, Delta's Talbott and Lahara collections allow users to tap the faucet on or off anywhere on the spout or handle. Perfect when hands are full or dirty. The water will automatically turn off within one minute of being tapped on.
Additionally, the Addison and Laraha lines feature Delta's new Touch2O.xt Technology, which features a four-inch sensing field around the entire faucet. The faucet automatically responds when users approach the sensing field. There's no infrared used. Just moving the hands out of range shuts off the flow within seconds, which saves money. And the touch-free starting keeps the faucet clean.
Pretty cool features all around. I do wonder at the sensing field. There are plenty of times when my hands come within four inches of the faucet when I don't have intentions of turning it on. I think I might get a little annoyed with it turning on and off constantly just because I got too near it.
I heard an interesting piece on NPR this morning about a professor of environmental studies out in UC Santa Cruz who created a nonprofit called The WaterReuse Foundation to determine why the public has a knee-jerk reaction to the thought of drinking water that was once waste water.
According to the professor, one Matt Haddad, it didn't matter that the water had been thoroughly cleaned and made perfectly suitable for drinking. The fact that it had once been sewage water was enough to turn the public off in a big way.
Haddad turned to psychologists to help explain the public's "irrational" behavior. According to one, the problem stemmed from what is called "psychological contagion." We humans tend to believe that when two objects have contact, their parts are joined. Like water and refuse. In other words, even if the refuse is physically (and completely) removed from the water, in our minds it is still waste water. Of the 2,000 people surveyed on the subject, 60 percent were unwilling to drink water that had ever had direct contact with sewage.
I have to admit, I'd be a little skeptical about drinking water that had once been flushed down a toilet. But the good people in California aren't exactly living in a water-rich environment. And as the NPR piece went on to explain, all the water we drink has at one time been waste water. "We're all downstream from someone else" was the quote of the story, in my opinion.
But will the public come to terms with the reuse of waste water as drinking water? How do you feel about it?