Saving Water and Energy in the Shower Without Compromise

Saving Water and Energy in the Shower Without Compromise

By Subrat Jain

For over a hundred years, not much has changed in shower technology. The design of nozzles has been pretty much the same and very less has been done on part of water saving. But in 2010, Carlos, one of the co-founders of Nebia, began finding a solution to reduce water consumption in his health club. In 2015, with the help of the other co-founders and engineers, Nebia came up with a prototype shower that uses 70% less water than a typical shower head and is 13 times thermally more efficient. Despite all the water saved, it produces the same results as ordinary shower heads in the same amount of time.

Nebia is a startup based in San Francisco. The product was launched on Kickstarter and completed its $100K goal in 8 hours. It then went on to raise more than $3 million before closing the campaign. The reason why Nebia seems promising is that their thought process was not to change the current way of taking a shower in any manner but to focus solely on innovating the shower design to save water and energy.

The nozzle used in Nebia is designed to reduce the water droplet size significantly and increase the surface area that the water will be covering. This is achieved through a process called atomization. Atomization is a process of reducing a liquid to a very fine mist. Atomization is commonly used in internal combustion (IC) engines and rocket engines to break the fuel particles into smaller particles but still keep the liquid phase, as only smaller droplets are suitable for IC engines. It is achieved using a suitable nozzle that will give it required velocity and pressure to disperse when out. In other words, the water particles inside the nozzle are under a high pressure and, when released out to the lower pressure, the particles disperse. Folks at Nebia simulated and analyzed the flow using Ansys software which is a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software to come up with the final design. A regular shower nozzle basically throws large droplets of water whereas Nebia reduces those droplets even further and spreads them out, over a larger area. Hence, Nebia covers 10 times more surface area than a regular shower for the same amount of water.

The Nebia shower unit has 4 parts to it: The head, made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), has their trademarked H2MICRO nozzles, the arm that is a sliding unit connected to the head to adjust the height of the shower head, the bracket, which is made of anodized Aluminum and is the support on the wall over which the arm of Nebia slides and the wand, which is the handheld unit and can be docked over a dock attached on the wall for additional spray. Installation is pretty convenient, as it is designed to be attached to a dedicated shower pipe protruding from the wall at least 1.5m high.


Besides consuming less water, there is another benefit of using a shower head with atomizing nozzles. While taking a shower, most of the water heat does not get transferred to the body of the user and, instead, goes down the drain. According to tests conducted by the Schumacher Institute, UK, the hot water that went down the drain still consisted of 90% of its thermal energy. As the water by Nebia shower covers a greater total surface area and contains a larger number of tinier droplets, the heat transferred to the body is much more in this case. According to the data given by the company, Nebia can transfer 13 times more heat form the water to the user and the surrounding air than a conventional shower head. This gives another reason to adopt this technology as it will save an immense amount of energy that gets wasted with hot water. Additionally, Nebia has a multi-layer filter with different pore sizes as opposed to a single layer mesh in a regular shower head. This minimizes pressure drop as particles get collected over a range of path and not at a single place, plus it limits single layer clogging.

The shower experience with Nebia will be different than any other shower as the water is more in the form of a mist than a stream. But, that doesn’t mean that it will not be effective. According to the reviews and people from Nebia, the shower will be as effective as any other shower. As stated by the company, “It will remove shampoo in the same time as a normal shower”.

The first batch of units will start shipping in summer 2016 and are currently available for shipping in the US, EU, Norway, Canada, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Mexico, Turkey, New Zealand, Israel, Switzerland, Brazil, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.

Nebia has taken the course of not just using innovative technology to save water but also to include an elegant and attractive design, something that resonates with the philosophy of Apple (as one of the co-founders previously worked on iPhone hardware design). While it is good to make the product look world-class, it comes with a cost. Nebia shower places itself with premium range showers in terms of cost ($399). This although is a good idea for a product to get attention, it will be difficult to convert it into a water saving product around the world. If only the nozzles that atomizes the water was implemented in a shower head minus the beautiful design, it would be possible to create a mid to lower range product that can then be used in public showers, gymnasiums, hotels, etc. That in itself will help saving millions of gallons of water every week.

It is a revolutionary technology that, if reached to masses, will contribute to enormous water conservation without compromising the whole shower experience and will also help save energy that gets wasted in the drain in the form of unused thermal energy.


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