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Cost-effective and resource-saving smart shower

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SmartShower (Cost-effective and resource-saving smart shower)

Berichtszeitraum: 2019-12-01 bis 2020-04-30

Water scarcity affects 3.6bn people worldwide and many countries suffer from water stress. Currently 11% of EU territory has a serious water scarcity problem.
Water recirculation showers are not a new idea. Technological developments have included filtering, purification, electric pumps and heaters, yet their market penetration is close to zero.
Hotels, for example, are one of the biggest points of waste, as tourism adds extra pressures to water scarce areas during water scarce seasons. Yet the adoption of recirculation showers in hotels is still low due to concerns about costs and pay-back times. To re-use the water, the shower water first needs to be collected, altering the existing drainage, which is expensive and time consuming - a hotel bathroom renovation can take 2-3 weeks. Where users are trying to save money on their bills, this initial greywater conversion outlay is a very important concern. This inflexibility of water infrastructure presents a big challenge for wide adoption of recirculation showers at every level.
Furthermore, even though consumers are interested in reducing their water use to reduce their bills and their environmental impact, they want to be assured that the water that returns to them during the shower is fit for purpose. However, to deliver this peace of mind, finer, thus more expensive, filters are needed, which further narrows the list of future users.

Flow Loop has developed the first retrofittable water recirculation shower. Our innovative drain cover means our shower is quick (only 30mins) and cheap (90% cheaper) to install; our membrane pump, stringent cleaning and efficient temperature control ensures great shower performance (documented as “Excellent Bathing Water” by Technical University of Denmark, DTU); and our back-flush filter ensures minimal maintenance.
Our Eco Loop Shower is a retrofittable water recirculation shower. With Eco Loop Shower, rather than hot water going to waste down the drain, the water is collected directly from the floor with our key patent pending innovation – a retrofit drain cover. Our drain cover means Eco Loop Shower is the first recirculating shower with 30-minute retrofit installation. The solution is easy to install into the existing infrastructure of the bathroom, without breaking up tiles on the walls or floor or disturbing the current plumbing infrastructure (e.g. drains, piping). Eco Loop Shower can be used as both a normal shower and a recirculating shower.
During a recirculating shower, the drain cover overflow mechanism is up, meaning the water level at the drain rises 5-10mm before a sensor starts pumping, pushing the water through a pre-filter (stopping hair and larger particles) and a fine micro-filter before the UV-purifier inactivates any bacteria or viruses in the water. The multi-stage filtration guarantees top levels of hygiene, eliminating all risks of harmful bacteria and microorganisms. By adding 1-2L of hot water per minute, the right temperature is sustained and allows the user to experience a larger water flow (12L/min), while only consuming about 2L/min.
During this Feasibility Study we sought to: test the usability and market appeal of the current Eco Loop Shower; identify all potential certification and regulatory requirements that Eco Loop; clarify the IPR protections and Freedom-to-Operate (FTO); develop and update the business plan; and finally plan the innovation project.

1: The market feasibility of Eco Loop Shower
Through our market research, we came to the following conclusions: users are most concerned about their comfort during a shower and saving money on energy; other water savings solutions fare worse in terms of water savings and user comfort than water recirculation technologies; competitors are expensive and time consuming to install; there are growing sustainability trends and luxury bathroom trends; and finally we have identified clients of hotels, fitness centres, workplaces and homeowners across our 4 initial geographic sections DK, Nordics, DE, and EU, giving the Total Available Market as 479mn showers and a EU SAM of 51.3mn showers.

2: The regulatory feasibility of Eco Loop Shower
Eco Loop exists in something of a regulatory vacuum. This is unlikely to last indefinitely as the sector advances and standards are developed that govern water reuse technologies. Thus, we have sought to adhere to the strictest bathing water standards in the EU and use off-the-shelf components for ease of CE marking in the future.

3: The IPR feasibility of Eco Loop Shower
Our retrofit drain cover is patented, and we have plans to patent future Eco Loop Shower developments and Flow Loop/Eco Loop Shower branding. We have undertaken a thorough FTO analysis showing novelty of our system and do not foresee any problems in our future development plans.

4: The business case for Eco Loop Shower
We have identified customers and potential partners; potential partners are inclined to aid in the commercial success of Flow Loop when the technology risk is lowered – that is when we have conducted our tests in relevant facilities (TRL8); several key partners necessary for the maturation and validation of Eco Loop Shower reaching TRL8; unique selling points of Eco Loop Shower; a mixed commercialisation plan with B2B, B2B2C and B2C; the price per Eco Loop Shower unit is projected to be lower than competing solutions.

5: Planning the future innovation project for Eco Loop Shower
Finally, we have planned and costed the innovation project that will take Eco Loop shower from TRL6→TRL8 and the future product launch at TRL9.
We were able to obtain feedback from current and prospective customers about our innovative Eco Loop Shower solution and they confirmed the value in our offering, especially referring to:
1. An automated recirculating shower: Our solution will be unique in the sense that it will require no human interaction to engage with the recirculating of water process.
2. Outstanding user experience: our surveys and consumer testing has revealed that, while people still care about the environment, do not want to compromise their showering experience. The Eco Loop Shower provides ultimate showering experience with 50% higher flow.
3. Environmentally friendly: During our testing, the Eco Loop Shower Showed superior water and energy saving capabilities, with over 85% water savings and up to 70% less energy use per shower.
4. Easy retrofit: To target our B2B segment, we have created a solution that can be easily retrofitted within 30 minutes.

We have estimated that Eco Loop Shower sales between 2022 and 2027 will save a total 4.2bn L of water and 109mn kWh of energy during that time. This is only reaching 0.1% of addressable showers in Europe. As we look to the future, if Eco Loop Shower can reach 10% of our target market (Hotel rooms, Fitness Centres, Workplaces, and Homes) in the EU, then we can save 611bn L of water and 16.0bn kWh per year. This would correspond to a reduction in yearly service industry and household EU water consumption of 1.80% and power consumption of 0.31%.
Furthermore, though Eco Loop Shower does not directly reduce CO2 emissions, the reduction in energy use will contribute to reduced CO2 emissions. On average, less than 20% of energy used in the EU comes from renewable resources, so for each Kilowatt-hour spent on average 300g of CO2 is released.