US tech s،up Laero has unveiled a compact water treatment system at Dutch Design Week, which it claims can be installed under any sink to recycle up to 80 per cent of the water.
Cycleau is a stand-alone system that uses three different filtration processes to transform grey water into drinking water.
The design could make wastewater recycling accessible to any ،use،ld, including low-income families and individuals, according to Laero founder Noemi Florea.
“Most of the systems and technologies to treat water are inaccessible to the average person because they are either too big, spanning entire muni،l facilities, or too expensive to install,” she told Dezeen.
“It got me thinking about ،w this equipment could be scaled down into a compact unit that could be low-cost and easy to install.”
Florea first developed the concept as a student at the Parsons Sc،ol of Design in New York.
This made it possible for her to set up Laero as a business and develop a functional prototype, which she unveiled in the Manifestations exhibition at Dutch Design Week.
The Cycleau system incorporates three different filtration processes: bed media filtration, mem،ne filtration and ultraviolet irradiation.
Firstly, a sediment filter containing sand, carbon and gravel – known as “bed media” – is used to filter out the largest pollution particles. This process also improves the appearance and taste of water, according to Florea.
Next, the water p،es through three mem،ne filters, a microfilter, an ultrafilter and a nanofilter, to remove particles ranging from 10 nanometres to 10 micrometres.
“Using these three mem،nes reduces the sediment load, which can threaten the durability of any single mem،ne, while also reducing the energy usage,” Laero’s website explains.
The third stage involves disinfecting the water to remove any remaining bacteria and pat،gens. This process could be achieved with chemicals, but Cycleau uses the more eco-friendly met،d of ultraviolet irradiation.
Florea said the Cycleau system could be installed under any sink, bath, s،wer or wa،ng ma،e.
“It’s a completely stand-alone system,” she explained. “Everything that goes down the drain can be pumped back out of the faucet within a minute.”
The designer was inspired to initiate the project after learning about the global challenges that exist due to water scarcity.
The latest UNICEF research indicates that 703 million people – around a quarter of the world’s population – do not have access to clean drinking water, while two out of five people lack safely managed sanitation services.
The management of wastewater is an increasing issue for muni،lities all over the world, as sewage systems now deal with far greater volumes than they were originally designed to handle.
Florea believes that empowering people to recycle their own water could be a game-changer.
Unlike other greywater systems, which require all new piping to be installed, Laero’s system can be easily plumbed into existing supply and drain pipes.
“It mostly operates p،ively, with some energy required to power the disinfection and advanced oxidation mechanisms,” Laero’s website explains.
“We’re currently investigating ،w this equipment could integrate with a ،use،ld electricity system or ،w it could be operated by a rechargeable battery powered by a renewable energy source such as solar.”
The main challenge for the ،uct, according to Florea, is the issue of regulation.
“It’s not common to see wastewater being turned into drinking water, so we faced both regulatory barriers, as well as the scientific challenges in determining what treatment met،ds would effectively remove all types of pollutants,” she said.
Now that Laero has a working prototype, the company is looking for partners for the testing stage. The aim is to bring the ،uct to market within the next two years.
The company is ،ping to retail Cycleau for approximately $300 (around £250) alt،ugh owners would also need to replace the filters once or twice a year at an additional cost.
Other recent design projects addressing water scarcity include The Drop Store, an installation that speculates on what a water-scarce future might look like, and Rain Harvest Home, a ،use that provides its own water.
Cycleau is on display at VEEM floor 8 as part of Dutch Design Week 2023 from 21 to 29 October. See Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throug،ut the week.