The abundance of clean water is on the decline, and 3.25 billion gallons of water is wasted every day in the US waiting for shower water temperature to be just right. Diversion could be a solution to this wasteful problem. A system comprised of a shower valve, a recirculation pump, and some common sense is all that a household requires to conserve their share of water otherwise sent down the drain. The application of this project in new and existing showers is necessary to appeal to any target market. The intention of the valve itself is to become an interface through which any user can interact, and immediately become connected to the water conservation effort. The system’s user prescribed settings, useful options, and visual appeal will add to user accessibility and experience. The Diversion system is an important implement for any household or commercial business to start conserving water now!
Proof of Concept
Any manufactured product will always have a direct influence on the environment. The Diversion valve-system is no different, except that its design and implementation will impact the environment positively. The plumbing industry already aims to be more sustainable, whether it through more efficient appliances or design innovations. Our team seeks to bring the environmental impact of this industry directly to the consumer. As for industry competition, there are products which lie at opposite ends of the “modern day” shower spectrum. There are water recirculation systems that conserve water, but user and consumer preferences and interaction are limited, and continuous use, or scheduled based operation can result in costly inefficiencies. There also exists products of which consumers can have control on a more personalized shower experience, however the conservation of unheated water is not addressed. The Diversion system seeks to bridge the gap between these two ideologies, and combine the best aspects of both into one system.
The problem of wasted clean water has existed longer than we know, and our team does not claim to have discovered it. Our team believes that we have conceived an idea that will allow us to enter the market in its current state. Buying patterns of shower fixtures currently consist of those interested in new installations and construction, and typically complete bathroom remodels in order to make their shower “smarter” or more luxurious. This product would aim to pay for itself, as well as any installation costs, through simply saving water and we believe that is a smart shower. Nest thermostats are a great way to save on energy costs, and provide a personalized, smart experience of energy conservation in any home. The diversion system could stand to become the Nest thermostat of water conservation.
The main components of the Diversion Recirculation System are shown in the included drawing. The recirculation solenoid valve bridges the hot and cold water supply and allows recirculation aided by a pump. It uses a unidirectional check valve. The two servo flow valves will actuate depending on the temperature reading of the sensor as read by the Arduino/Raspberry Pi.
Diversion will implement these valves together as a system to demonstrate that water can be conserved through the process of recirculation within the shower. If Diversion can supply a product that can be installed using the existing plumbing of a common American home, we can address the nearly 3.25 billion of gallons of water wasted per day in the country by simply letting the cold water run down the drain. While it may not seem to be a costly habit now, the ever increasing population and demand for clean water will show a costly difference for our future, not only financially, but environmentally. The integration of these types of systems could ultimately allow for a considerable decrease in the amount of water needing to be processed for residential usage, allowing the cost of water to remain low.
The purpose of the Diversion recirculation system is to create a household product that will create an innovative shower experience while significantly reducing water waste. The prototype will consist of components ready to retrofit to existing household plumbing along with an easy to use interface that will act as the control center for the shower. The Diversion system aims to eliminate the common ‘shower preheat’ period where you would traditionally turn on the shower and waste the water that has not yet come to temperature. The Diversion system will recirculate water through the homes existing plumbing until the water reaches the desired temperature at which time it will await the user’s command to exit the shower head at the prescribed temperature. Diversion hopes to reduce wasteful habits and preserve clean water with this exciting new innovation.
The primary characteristics and specifications of the Diversion recirculation system includes a water pump to recirculate the tepid water back into the water heater, and a system of electronically controlled valves and interface through which a user may set desired preferences, and initiate commands. This entire system must be able to be installed in new and existing shower locations, and provide accurate and consistent water temperature readings to the user, while preserving anti-scalding safety features. The system must also comply with appropriate plumbing, electrical, and mechanical codes and specifications required for use in residential applications. The Diversion system must be able to provide hot water to be used in a shower without waste, and alert the user when their desired temperature has been met. This water system aims to become the consumer product in many households where we can monitor and improve our water consumption habits to preserve this increasingly valuable resource.
Assembly of the Diversion system required first testing the compatibility of each individual component of the system both mechanically and electronically. The code for the Gui was written for both iterative temperature control (PID controller) and user accessibility through the resistive LCD touch screen. The Diversion team was able to connect the valves using PEX piping and brass fittings with crimp clamps, as shown in the photographs below. Having the dimensions of the final assembly allowed the team to design the valve housing and begin creating the mockup for their shower. The shower head uses high pressure, low flow rate atomizing nozzles that thread into weld-in bungs which are welded into notched ½” steel pipe. Using an immersion heater, two 55 gallon drums, and two supply pumps to simulate basic plumbing with supply pressure, a framed wall with gypsum board, laminate wrapping, and the shower head accommodations, the team will provide a fully assembled prototype to present on Innovation Day 2019.
Assembled Diversion Valve
With Electronic Components
Valve Housing with Exposed Touchscreen
Testing and Results
Meet the Team
Kenny van Woert
Kenny van Woert is a Reno, Nevada native. Trained and educated locally in the fields of graphic design and mechanical engineering, he will receive his second college degree in May 2019. Kenny seeks to apply his knowledge and passion for the outdoors to a movement directly involved with renewable resources, technological advancement, and environmentally conscious products. Perhaps the most challenging engineering projects that he has been involved with have been centered around Burning Man. Projects such as mutant vehicles, custom bicycles, and teeter-totter flamethrower towers each had their own respective hurdles and challenges. Each of these projects required creative, innovative design, and be safe enough for general public interaction. His academic career has not only given him the tools to create and solve engineering problems, but has sharpened his eye for intelligent engineering and design. Outside of school and work, he and his small family can’t be found, as they’re camping off the grid and checking summits off the bucket list.
Bryce Collings was born and raised in Carson City, Nevada where he still resides. Bryce currently works as a Staff Engineer for the Nevada Department of Transportation in Carson City. The most challenging engineering projects Bryce has been a part of come from work, where he serves as a project coordinator on multi million dollar transportation safety projects. During his free time, Bryce can be found putting his engineering skills to the test building classic cars with his dad. The most fun and creative projects Bryce works on are usually with his dad. Bryce has really been able to advance his design skills through the Mechanical Engineering academic program. After graduation, Bryce plans to spend more time travelling and enjoying the outdoors with his fiance, Eden.
Sam Melvin was born in Birmingham, Alabama and spent the majority of his childhood years moving and travelling due to his mother’s occupation as a travel nurse. Sam currently works as an intern at Resource Development Company in Sparks, NV.. Because of the diversified nature of projects such as welded steel water tanks and wastewater treatment facilities, Sam has had to apply his engineering skills toward challenging problems on a daily basis at work. Thanks to his dedication and hard work over the past two summers, Sam has been awarded the position of Assistant Project Manager, even before his graduation. Sam plans to continue his work at Resource Development after graduation. During his free time, Sam is an avid fly-fisherman and enjoys travelling to new places with his girlfriend.
Luke Furgason is a Nevada native, having been born in sparks, raised in Virginia City Highlands, and Educated in Reno. Fathered with an engineering mindset, Luke has always been challenged to approach problems with crafty solutions. Throughout his educational career, he has developed the interpersonal, nonverbal, written, and oral communication skills that will ultimately benefit the projects within his career and refine him as a professional. Luke works as an engine diagnostician at a local powersports service shop which gives him new puzzles to solve on a frequent basis. Aside from fixing automotive problems, Luke flourishes when given the opportunity to customize machines in efforts of restoration, performance enhancement, or simply to implement artistic characteristics within the piece. After receiving his BS in Mechanical Engineering, Luke plans to envelope himself within industry while assembling a skilled team in efforts to build his own thriving business, and eventually see the world.