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Development and commercialisation of cost effective, easy to use, fit and maintain domestic greywater reuse system

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Aqua Gratis (Development and commercialisation of cost effective, easy to use, fit and maintain domestic greywater reuse system)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2018-11-30

Population growth and increasing water consumption is putting increasing pressure on water availability which could decline by as much as two thirds globally by 2050, posing global economic, societal and environmental threats. W. The water supply infrastructure consumes significant amounts of energy (0.29kWh energy used in delivering one cubic metre of potable water to urban areas of the UK) for the pumping, purification and thereof. Increased demand, combined with poor and leaking infrastructure has increased pressure on existing supply. The situation is expected to get worse, with EU water consumption by the public, industry and agriculture anticipated to rise by ~16 % over the next 15 years. With an increasing drive to reduce water consumption, it is desirable to reuse water rather than ration it through low- flow showers and low- flush toilets that don’t meet public expectation when water consumption can be reduced in larger quantities by recycling shower and bath water instead. Existing state of the art (SoA) measures to solve increasing pressures on water-supply and infrastructure are based on rationing and reducing water demand through flow restrictions (not as effective as reducing water consumption and provides a poor user experience) rain water harvesting (expensive to install, maintain and run and reliant on seasonal rainfall) and using centralized greywater systems (expensive and unsuitable for all domestic environments).

In response to recurring water shortages, ensuing legislations and deficiency of the SoA, we are developing a citizen-centred and integrated ‘hard’ waste water recycling system ‘Aqua Gratis’ which is based on collecting grey water from showers and baths in a house, treating the water with a suitable biocide and then distributing to toilet cisterns for use as required.

The overall objective of this development project is to create a commercially ready Aqua Gratis product, with validated results through field trials. Dissemination of the H2020 project progress through client meetings and attendance at sustainable building tradeshows will facilitate early market adopters for market entry of this disruptive solution to the housing sector. This will enable us to achieve our overall commercial objective to become the leading global developer of micro grey water re-use systems
The Phase 1 grant has enabled us to complete an in-depth market study, on completion of which, having reviewed and analysed the data collected, we conclude that there is a viable market opportunity for Aqua Gratis initially in new house building market followed by the commercial new build market (hotels/pods). We will continue to watch the progress of the retrofit market as it matures for the greywater recycling solution such as Aqua Gratis. From our contact with Severn Trent Water, Starbridge Port Developments, Galiford Try, Black Country Homes, Wolverhampton City Council, South Staffs and Scottish Water, we have already begun developing what is likely to become our initial route to market.

Whilst the aim is for the Aqua Gratis to be sold to the new house builders, we first need to convince them of the technology so we will be required to build a number of prototypes in partnership with the subcontract manufacturer e3 Design this during the phase 2 project. We have successfully mapped out the supply chain for hardware and testing providers to enable us to offer Aqua Gratis for in house testing. We have also confirmed the interest of several end users who are keen to commence end user trials.

In planning the further development programme for Aqua Gratis, we gained a clear understanding of the work required to develop to TRL9. We have built a work plan that is manageable, affordable and realistic to achieve. During the preparation of the Phase 2 proposal, it is envisaged that further refinements will be made to the structure and cost, to deliver a robust plan for scale-up and commercialisation.

The wider market is large enough to support more than one competing solution, therefore we consider that the threat of competing viable alternatives also reaching the market does not constitute a major barrier to successful commercialisation by CWP (though this is an area that must be monitored to assure the sustainability of the business). As a result of this Phase 1 project, we have been able to review our business strategy, and to construct a robust business plan, with realistic and achievable financial forecasts.

CWP will therefore proceed with our plans to reach market as soon as possible, in order to capitalise on timing of key market drivers, and establish Aqua Gratis as the technology of choice for recycling of the greywater, and to bring our business plan to fruition.
Innovation over State of the Art: Existing state-of-the-art measures to solve increasing pressures on water-supply and infrastructure are based on rationing and reducing water demand through;
• Flow restriction (not as effective as reducing water consumption and provides a poor user-experience)
• Rain water harvesting (expansive to install, maintain and run and reliant on seasonal rainfall)
• Centralised greywater systems (Expensive and unsuitable for most domestic environments)

Where greywater recycling has potential to reduce water consumption and sewage waste by ~30%, there are technical-challenges to overcome particularly around filtering and water-treatment. Several companies have failed to solve these problems or have promoted inefficient, large tank-based systems which ultimately failed to get market traction. There are many different inefficient greywater systems with variable sizes/prices. The larger whole-house systems, such as those sold and installed by Aquality, are not even marketed to domestic customers, arguing that due to high technology cost they are “prohibitively expensive” for homeowners.

Our approach differs from other grey water recycling that have large tank-based systems which ultimately failed to get market traction due to cost and return on investment of 5-8 years. Our technology, Aqua-Gratis, is a MGR approach which is a compact, integrated system with no external tanks providing light touch (low maintenance, fit and forget) water management to service a single urban dwelling’s multiple toilets, utilising existing plumbing infrastructure and concealed into the homes fabric. MGR is a superior water-efficacy-solution which requires no behavioural change by users.

Wider Impacts:

- Water for food. Water consumption for agriculture alters the natural water cycle in many areas of the U.K. This degrades production areas and intensifies other environmental problems such as land clearing and eutrophication.

- Degradation of water bodies. Many of our rivers, wetlands and bays are degraded. This is partly due to the high levels of water extracted, as well as polluted surface runoff and storm water flushed into them.

-Building more reservoirs. This has environmental effects such as altered stream flows, destruction of wilderness, and degraded ecological health. They cause the loss of high quality agricultural land, displacement of people. Reservoirs are also very costly!

- Maintenance. Maintaining infrastructure for water supply and use. This includes the costly upgrades and maintenance of pipes, sewers and treatment facilities. As well as the fuel consumption to distribute water around the network.
- Regional impacts will be seen within the supply chain in job creation in manufacturing/installation/maintenance throughout the UK
- Government priorities Aqua Gratis reduces the cost of living and fuel poverty and solves water scarcity issues and helps meet carbon reduction targets
Aqua Gratis prototype
3D diagram of how Aqua Gratis looks in a house