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Tapping a valuable resource

Since the launch of the Mini Orange, Aspen has become a global leader for mini condensate pumps.
Since the launch of the Mini Orange, Aspen has become a global leader for mini condensate pumps.

Aspen LogoGrey water is becoming increasingly important. As water becomes an increasingly precious resource using it in a sustainable way that minimises waste has become critical. Grey water is the most commonly used type of water in the world, and it is also the most wasted on a daily basis. It is defined as water that is created through wastewater in the home, excluding toilet water (or black water.)

We unknowingly generate up to 140 gallons of it every day when we have a shower or bath, or use the washing machine or dishwater. It is a common misconception that grey water cannot be recycled, when in fact in can be used to wash clothes, water the garden, keep our cars cool or water a constructed wetland.

When thinking about recycling, what most people don’t realise is that they have an additional source of grey water in their houses that can produce between 5-20 gallons of water per day.

Condensate water

Commercial and domestic air conditioning is becoming more and more commonplace. Wastewater or condensate water is generated as warm air is cooled by the air conditioning system and humidity in the air forms condensation. This condensate is then collected in the unit and traditionally is then pumped outside into a drain where other wastewater is sent, or drained straight out of the building using gravity. A standard air conditioning unit will produce on average 5475 gallons of grey water a year; that’s enough to fill 110 bathtubs, wash a car 547 times, do 138 loads of washing, or could flush a toilet 2737 times per year.

In the past removing condensate water from an air conditioning unit was a challenge and was often not viewed as being economically viable. However, as the search to discover innovative ways to recycle water gathers pace, and with more people looking to air conditioning systems to keep their homes cool, the theory of recycling the grey water generated from air conditioning units has become a reality. With the right drainage systems and correct pumping methods, it is entirely possible to have sufficient recycled grey water to significantly reduce water bills and help sustainability.

For instance, Aspen Pumps is a company who has been at the forefront of air conditioning grey water recycling innovation and it has been providing water condensate removal solutions to the industry for over 20 years. Being able to reuse grey water is imperative to ensuring that Aspen, and other companies involved in this area, work in a way that protects the environment. With water becoming scarcer in many regions across the globe it is critical that people are offered the tools to reuse their grey water. Aspen offers a range of pumps that will lift the water up and into storage tanks, outside water butts, and other water drainage systems, which means that the water can then be reused and recycled as appropriate.

Gravity drain systems

Traditionally, gravity drain systems have been used to recycle water through drainage into storage tanks where it can then be recycled. However, gravity drain systems can only work if there is sufficient space when installing an air conditioning unit, or attempting to drain the water into a water recycling unit. Draining the excess water into a bucket or straight out the window onto the exterior wall was common installation practice – as there wasn’t a better way available. Since then, the development of efficient pumps in this market has allowed installers to fit a pump either in, on or above the air conditioning unit allowing the water to be pumped up and away from the unit without the need for gravity. Ultimate flexibility is guaranteed, as AC units can now be placed as desired by the home/builder owner, instead of placing the unit close to an outside wall which is a requirement for gravity drainage.

In buildings where space is an issue and water recycling is more difficult, air conditioning systems connected to a water recycling tank with a pump means that an average tower block with 150 flats could recycle up to 22,500 gallons of water per month. That’s enough water to fill a 21ft swimming pool! With over 80 million air conditioning units being sold in America and 50 million in China annually, if every one of those people who bought a unit used a condensate water pump to save water, there would be a saving of over 700 trillion gallons of grey water per year.

Pumping grey water

For instance, the newest pumps, such as Aspen’s, have the ability to pump grey water up to a height of 20 m, meaning that the water can be pumped into a roof top storage tank and reused for washing clothes, washing cars and watering gardens. This creates fantastic sustainability opportunities. Aspen Pumps Hi-Lift 2 litre Tank pump can pump up to 12 m of head and has a flow rate of 11 litres an hour. This would be more than enough to transport water from an air conditioning unit to a water storage tank ready for recycling.

Whatever the country or environment, if there is an air conditioning unit, there is an opportunity to tap a valuable source of recyclable grey water. The average person uses 140 litres of water per day with only approximately 5-10 litres of this is used for drinking and cooking. With this in mind, with the right pump, trunking and accessories the average household will reap huge benefits from water sustainability opportunities and economic savings.

Many more related articles are also published in World Pumps magazine.

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