Thursday, November 09, 2006

Air Shower Cuts Water Use By 30%

Water conservation is a particularly contentious topic in California what with the farmers battling the city-folk for every drop. And yet I know several otherwise "green" individuals who still revel in their luxurious high-volume "drenching" showers.

I will even admit that when we first moved into our new home, the master bedroom shower head afforded wonderful, though short showers that completely drained our water heater in about 10 minutes. So I did what any good scientist would do. I engaged in an extensive shower-head survey experiment.

It turned out to be a rather depressing exercise. Of the 12 or so shower heads that were available in our immediate area, the contenders generally fell into one of two camps: no flow restrictor and great showering, or great water economy with heads that would blow at you and not really get you wet enough to shower comfortably.

Image of a showerhead tied in a knot.

But now, Australian scientists claim they have solved this uncomfortable trade-off by developing a device that can be inserted into existing shower heads, which fills the water droplet with bubbles of air instead of blowing the air around the droplets.

Developed by a team led by Dr Jie Wu, the aeration device is a small nozzle that fits inside a standard showerhead. The nozzle uses a small Venturi tube – a tube for which the diameter varies, creating a difference in pressure and fluid speed. Air is sucked into the Venturi tube as a result of the partial vacuum created, causing air and water to mix, forming tiny bubbles within the water stream.

“The nozzle creates a vacuum that sucks in air and forces it into the water stream,” Dr Wu says.

“We make the water droplets in the stream hollow and the bubbles expand the volume of the shower stream.”

Small-scale experiments using the aeration device found that people detected no difference in water pressure, sensation, or overall perception of showering.

Sounds great, but I'll reserve judgment until my chill-prone wife approves the technology in her rigorous goose bump test. But I would feel very green indeed, if I could reduce household water consumption by 30%.


Anonymous said...

Extraordinary! I await with baited breath to hear the results and conclusions. What about shower heads with pulsators? Phil

Anonymous said...

I meant to say pulsating shower heads with massage. They make the whole difference. Phil

Anonymous said...

What about heating the air before putting it into the droplets? That would go a long way towards passing the goose bump test.

Anonymous said...

This type of shower was created in the mid 1990's by Dr. John Brice and holds a US patent. I bought one and it works great from