Thursday, 12 May 2011

Managing Public Water Systems - cause for concern

Back to Tap is excited about a recent documentary on public water resources. The 90 minute PBS documentary"Liquid Assets" investigates public water infrastructure across the United States and finds major problems with how the entire system is managed. The film is parter of a larger effort to change attitudes towards public water systems and how they are administered. People are slowly realising how precious water systems are - modern city living would quickly revert to Hobbes' "nasty, brutish and short" description of the human condition.

Showing how various cities in the US suffer from degraded and ill-maintained water infrastructure, "Liquid Assets" raises important questions about how we use and dispose of water.

After watching the trailer, we started wondering about water infrastructure here in London, much of which is also creaking, and was installed far earlier than anything in the United States.

Let's hope that the folks at Thames Water have also watched "Liquid Assets" and that the water delivery and management problems facing our 19th century system do not affect our drinking water. It is not that long ago (1854) that London was suffering significant cholera outbreaks.

If we are to ensure that our water system remains in healthy condition, people must speak up and demand regular maintenance of what is an essential public good. Let's not wait for the bottled water companies to turn off all the taps and take over our water infrastructure. Raise your voice and demand the quality we need to go Back to Tap!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

New Energy Projects in Africa: leading the way with innovation

Back to Tap has been busy working on a number of new initiatives - looking for ways to affordable water filtration technology to new markets like Africa, where innovation and ideas are blossoming.

In particular, we were excited by all the talk of renewable energy at this year's Africa Utility Week in South Africa. If even a fraction of the projects discussed during the week are acted upon, Africa's use of renewable energy with soon put Europe and the UK to shame. Here's hoping that Africa leads the way in adopting mostly renewable energy and other sustainable technologies in the future.

Moving Grass in Your Window: green is good.

How many times do you wish there was more green in your life? At Back to Tap, we are also partial to blue, but are excited about a recent playful design that popped up here in London.

A shop window that waves its green grass fingers at you as you stroll by. Connected to a series of motors, the graceful long grasses follow one's movement across the pavement...

When when they come up with a window shop wave?

Fishing for Plastic...What have we done?

We were surprised to read this morning that fishermen in the Mediterranean are not expected to fish for plastic. As mu

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Living in a Water World: how we use it & abuse it

Here is a little pre-weekend reminder of just how valuable and vital water is from friends over at While here in the UK water waste may be a little less extreme, the graphic below illustrates well the unsustainable use of water in many parts of the world. The fact that this waste continues is not due to a lack of options - rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, waterless toilets, composting toilets and water filtration and re-use systems are all readily available to many - and the real problem lies in people's attitudes towards water.

At Back to Tap, we want to encourage people to consider how and why they use water the way they do. Is purchasing bottled water healthy and environmentally sound way to behave? What other options exist are available that will allow us to move away from wasteful behaviour?

Next week, we will be looking at a number of exciting innovations for water conservation from Lelongwe to London.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your tap water!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Green Roofs Filter Water & Create Space

Back to Tap is looking forward to getting a new green roof project started. A little innovation can go a long way to making cities more liveable and improving drainage. Especially in places like London, where the sewerage system regularly overflows due to heavy rain, green roofs and permeable pavements provide an useful alternative. Does anyone else have ideas for more sustainable urbanisation?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Of Taps and Toilets

Back to Tap was amused to find that a new Toilet Museum has opened in Wiesbaden, Germany. Like taps and everything plumbing and water related, toilets don't often get the attention they deserve, but proper hygiene and sanitation infrastructure are key to building healthy communities.

Water is essential for life, and having access to clean water can often mean the difference between a healthy and prosperous life and disease. The most recent illustration of this has been a cholera outbreak in Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where poor water treatment and substandard water infrastructure and drainage systems have led to the unnecessary death of over 50 people.

Here in London, Back to Tap is proud to work with the ARCHIVE Institute to raise awareness of the links between health and housing and water issues in particular. Basic steps can be taken in home design to reduce the risk of illness for some of the world's most vulnerable urban populations, and Back to Tap hopes that ARCHIVE's work will change the way people think about water, design and health in cities around the world.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Water Gardens and the Urban Environment

Back to Tap has been in touch with the pioneers over at the Science Barge to discuss their prototype, sustainable urban farm and environmental education centre that is now in its third year of operations. It is the only fully functioning demonstration of renewable energy supporting sustainable food production in New York City. And it is floating on the Hudson River!

The Barge grows tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce with zero net carbon emissions, zero chemical pesticides, and zero runoff. It is powered by solar, wind, and biofuels, and irrigated by rainwater and purified river water. By providing an accessible and fun platform for exploring urban food production and sustainable energy, the project helps to change attitudes towards the urban environment.

As part of the expansion of the Science Barge's gardening mandate, a greenhouse has been built on top of a local school, and it is great to see innovation and primary education literally feeding off of each other. The greenhouse relies on an advanced hydroponics system to grow fruit and vegetables, providing a great science class tutorial as well as enhancing the nutrition of diminutive New Yorkers. Schools everywhere should have gardens as a focal point for educational, nutritional and ecological advancement.

Barges in London (above) and in Boston (below) which inspire us to explore ecologically sound ways of interacting with the urban rivers.

Here in London, Back to Tap is excited about the Barge Garden Competition being held in Boston - the honourable mentions on their blog offer inspiration for London to think creatively about how we interact with the environment. In particular, we look forward to future work that re-examines our relationship with water, the earth most precious resource.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Can the World Keep Up with Growing Demand for Water?

A little food for thought when we turn on the taps in the morning from our friends at Back to Tap particularly enjoyed the runner up showing the projected increase in urban water consumption to 2030.


The team used sponges and water to create a powerful visual display of just how much water thirsty humans will be drinking in coming years. Their findings provide one more reason to stop using wasteful water bottling and to think more seriously about how we manage all of the world's natural resources, including water.

Friday, 1 April 2011

UNICEF Works to Provide Clean Water in Libya

UNICEF has just set up a new transit station on the Libyan border and one of their major challenges is providing clean drinking water to the growing population. Here at Back to Tap, we have been considering work on a low cost filter for just such situations.

Back to Tap hopes that everyone fleeing the war in Libya and surrounding areas will find a safe refuge in neighbouring countries, and that freshwater will continue to flow for all.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Plastic Bags Sail the Seas: time for a ban or two

Back to Tap is happy to be following the trials and tribulations of the 5 Gyres Team as they set out to quantify the Pacific Garbage Patch - formed of plastic bottles and other plastic waste.

Like our friends over at the Plastiki, the 5 Gyres sailing team is seeking to explore the problem of plastic waste in our seas, but they are taking a more scientific approach. Increasing the knowledge base and general public awareness of the plastic pollution will hopefully drive political change.

Already, there have been successful attempts to ban plastic bags in cities and towns in the UK and now the EU has even proposed a national ban on the polluting plastic bag. It seems that slowly but surely, the world is waking up to plastic's destructive impact on our ecosystems.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Sustainable Design Centre for London 2012

Back to Tap has learned that Siemens will be building a sustainable design centre in the heart of London in preparation for the Olympics. The question on our minds is if the centre will actually address some of London's most pressing issues, including the worst urban air quality in all of Europe and an antiquated and wasteful sewerage system, among other problems.

According to Siemens Chief Executive Andreas J. Goss, the project “aims to create an attractive focal point that celebrates London’s ambition and leadership in green technologies and sustainability" and she hopes that the project "will act as a catalyst for wider community involvement in the debate about how we best address the challenge of climate change in our cities.” Does this sound familiar?

Two years ago, the city of Vancouver's own Olympic sustainability project seemed to echo the same passion for sustianability, but in the end if turned out to another VANOC White Elephants. Will London's corporate financed sustainability fare any better than the real estate bubble tragedy that the Olympic Village has been for the City of Vancouver?

Set to open in early 2012 the centre in the Royal Victoria Docks, it is proposed that the centre will be a flagship for East London’s Green Enterprise District. This part of the city is alternatively represented as the Silicon Valley of the UK and a Green Enterprise District, so it is a little confusing for casual observers. Do "green" software servers run on air or solar energy?

Designed as a showcase of urban sustainability, and including an office, an exhibition and education facility, Siemens project will showcase new technology from around the world and new ways of living and working in the spirit of sustainable sustainable urbanism. The interactive exhibitions and events will be open to the public - yet just how open remains to be seen. Siemens' project is still very much private property development, and in spite of members of the public being permitted to enter the space when they are invited, this will not in fact be a public space.

The space is projected to attract around 100,000 visitors a year, with school groups, and visiting research teams being a key component in the mix. Based on the dynamic centre Siemens is hoping to realise, one wonders if the financiers behind Vancouver's second convention centre could have used their imagination a little and provided a more engaging space for the public, alongside corporate conferences and over-priced inspirational speakers.

In terms of raw technology, the centre will showcase UK sustainable design and construction technologies, and will maximise the use of natural daylight, incorporating high performance glazing, photovoltaic panels, energy efficient lighting and metering. Rainwater harvesting, water efficient appliances, ground source heat pumps and solar water heating will all be integral to the design and the building will be constructed using recycled steel and industrial by-product cement. Sustainable drainage and water efficient landscaping are also part of the plans to create a relaxing waterside environment around the building.

According to Anne Keogh, the building complex will serve as a living model for London homeowners, archtiects and designers with research facilities supporting new green businesses. How this will work in practice remains to be seen.

Siemens is in the enviable position of having a testing ground for many of these projects with the Masdar City project in Abu Dhabi. The Masdar project is business led initiatives to create a sustainable satellite city using new green technology. While few countries or cities have the money to build from nothing, both of these projects drive home the need for investment in innovative approaches to sustainable urban design and more equitable living in one of the world's wealthiest cities.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Why the Tippy Tap Is Good for Your Health

Linked with today's post about hygiene and water quality in the Congo and elsewhere, we thought we should this great film about the Tippy Tap. While not everyone loves the Tippy Tap it a simple innovation that will hopefully inspire new ideas and approaches to water technology, low-cost sewerage and other areas in the future.

With the majority of the world's population under pressure to access clean water, it is time to think more seriously about how we use and manage water resources.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Moshe Safdie and Design for Humanity

At Back to Tap, we like to imagine that all architects and designers genuinely care about the world around them and how people interact with the buildings and objects they create. If people are going to go to the trouble of designing and building homes, offices and entire cities, it is important that they consider the people who inhabit these spaces.

The way we interact with water is particularly important. The way water enters our homes - the pipes and taps we use, and the way it leaves, and is filtered and returns to its source, has a huge impact on the environment, our health and well-being.

This symbiotic relationship between design, architecture, the environment and our health has frequently been ignored. We hope that in the future, more thinkers like Mosh Safdie will drive changes in the water and the built environment impact on our daily lives and the environment. We would love to read about any other inspiring designs.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Majestic Plastic Bag

A great reminder that the vast majority of all plastic that we use ends up in our oceans. Has anyone else spotted a majestic plastic bag migrating to the sea recently?

Monday, 14 March 2011

Plastiki Redux - What can we learn from their journey?

As part of our ongoing engagement with the Plastiki team, Back to Tap recently caught up with David de Rothschilde in Australia. After completing the Plastiki voyage almost a year ago, it remains to be seen where he will be sailing next?

On our minds have been on the next step in the Plastiki team's voyage. After celebrating the one year anniversary of the voyage on March 20th, they are moving on to explore adventure, community and social change with a new online network at Check back next week to see what Back to Tap is up to on the Myoo network.

Submerged Arcology: innovative ways to clean plastic from our seas

Back to Tap always enjoys learning about innovative solutions to plastic pollution and waste, and we enjoyed a number of this year's entries to the Evolo 2011 Skyscraper Competition. In particular, the Submerged Arcology by Serbian architects Milorad Vidojevic, Jelena Pucarevic, and Milica Pihler. The ocean going column is designed to catch plastic waste for removal from the seas and recycling.

While this is a concept, it reminds us of Zigloo's Gyre Seascraper. With oil rigs and offshore gas drilling platforms being built left and right, one wonders when we are going to take seriously the need to clean-up our oceans and become aware that environmental stewardship is at least as important as exploiting the resources around us?

Plastics and Contamination in our Oceans - 5 More Reasons to Go Back to Tap!

New research suggests that fish are consuming and being affected by plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean. Plastic waste from industry and consumer products accumulates and washes into the sea. As Captain Charles Moore, the founder of Agalita explains, all the plastic waste that is generated in inland areas inevitably makes it down rivers to the sea. The long-term build up of plastic waste in our Oceans mean that there are now major plastic gyres in all five of the world's oceans.

The pollution in these oceans are five more reasons to stop using bottled water and go Back to Tap!

Friday, 11 March 2011

One more reason to ban the bottle and go Back to Tap!

Plastic waste and electroscrap damage the health of thousands of people, animals and plants around the world.

For the Greener Good: Life After Plastic from National Building Museum on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Floating Cinemas and the Olympics

After meeting them at this year's Emerging Architect awards, Back to Tap are thrilled to read in BD today that the Olympic Delivery Authority has commissioned Studio Weave to design a floating cinema which will cruise the canals of the five Olympic host boroughs next summer.

Studio Weave's "Longest Bench" and their artistic partners for the Olympic Cinema project, artists Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie.

Back to Tap's favourite Hackney practice will partner with artists Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie, known as Somewhere, for the ODA and its Create 11 summer festival.

The Floating Cinema commission is part of Up Projects’ Portavilion series which also saw temporary arts pavilions erected in London’s parks and public spaces over the summer.

The latest Portavilion project will focus on the waterways connecting the boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Greenwich with the new Olympic Park.

Waterways and land are both up for private administration following the Olympics. Will the floating cinema be free to sail?

We hope that somewhere in the project they will raise the issue of ownership over resources - as the Olympic lands appear to be headed the way of Canary Wharf and will likely be one hundred percent private owned after the Games (see image), one wonders about the mobile cinema's freedom of movement. Will they be free to move along the waterways?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

World Water Day March 22 2011

Here in London, Back to Tap is getting ready for World Water Day 2011. Back to Tap will be joining millions of others to celebrate water as a human right on 22 March.

Given that World Water Day is only two weeks away we thought would be a good time to return to Jay-Z's own commentary on the plight of over a billion people who cannot access clean water for drinking, washing and cooking.

Clearly, we need simple yet innovative design solutions, such as the children's carousel playpump, the arbour loo and other ideas to build a universally accessible water future.

Monday, 28 February 2011

No Plastic Song & Dance

Here at Back to Tap we started dancing this morning to the sounds of No Plastic:

Does anyone else have eco-friendly music out there? We would love to hear more of it.

10 Ways to Use Less Plastic

How do we change behaviour to be more sustainable? Of course there are many inspiring examples of how to reduce our collective carbon footprints, yet when it comes to creating change at the individual level, it can be very difficult to really get things done. In this post, we've tried to help you move away from plastics by breaking things down so that you can choose individual steps towards reducing plastic use:

(1) Stop buying and using bottled water - Plastic bottles are a major source of marine debris and are piling up around the world. Make your own filtered tap water and carry it in a stainless steel drinking flask, or simply drink straight from a filtered tap.

(2) Say "no" to plastic grocery bags - Plastic bags are a leading source of ocean garbage. Purchase and bring your own reusable bags when buying groceries.

(3) Say "no" to plastic snack bags, baggies and sandwich bags - Cloth napkins, wax paper or reusable sandwich bags and boxes can be used in place of their plastic equivalents.

4) Avoid Products that use Plastic to Begin With - Plastic is convenient but most of the cheaper grades (the clear stuff) find its way into our food, often leaving a film on anything that is wrapped in it and which we then eat. Microwaving anything in plastic cooks plastic residues right into the food, vaporizing other chemicals that contaminate the food and air.

5) Recycle or Reuse Materials - Plastic can be recycled and you will find that when you start recycling you at least save money on trash bags. Many containers can be washed out and reused (though they should be sterilized with apple cider vinegar). Note that only the higher grade plastics can be reused.

6) Choose Products with Biodegradable Plastic - Now many plastic cups along with packaging peanuts and other supplies are available in a biodegradable form. Companies like Ecosafe and Natur-Tec are providing real solutions to the plastic problem.

7) Repair, Sell or Upgrade Gadgets Many people run out and buy the latest new cell phone or iPod more often than needed, discarding their old phones in the rubbish where they not only add to plastic landfill but also leak out various other contaminants like Mercury. Meanwhile older components, while larger, are often superior as they tend to be constructed of much more solid materials. By repairing your items you can keep things in top shape much longer. Tackle small problems when they arise. Take the time to fix things. Buy used products when possible and sell your items online or at the local rummage sale when they are no longer needed. Prefer products that offer replacement parts.

8) Recycle Computer Parts - If you must discard items like monitors or printers, at least take them to an electronics recycler. The claim that most plastics can be recycled has been proven false, but for some plastics, the option is there. So recycle where possible while proactively cutting out plastic from your life.

(9) Experiment with New Materials & Innovative Products - From bamboo to glass and stainless steel, there are many options to help you make the move away from plastic.

(10) Convert those around you to plastic free living!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Pacific Ocean Gyre

If anyone has found themselves drifting in the middle of Pacific recently, they may have found themselves in a sea of plastic waste. As our friends over at the Plastiki know so well, plastic waste poses a major threat the health of aquatic ecosystems from the mid-Pacific to local beaches.

Here at Back to Tap, we are hoping that people will stop using bottled water and put an end to one major source of plastic waste. This will hopefully lead a shrinking of the Pacific Ocean plastic gyre:

Watching the Price of Liquid Gold

As we continue to think of new ways to manage water, and to discuss whether or not bottled water makes sense, we thought that you might be interested in a recent BBC series on "The Foods That Make Billions."

Things like cornflakes and bottled water that people would never have considered paying for are now some of the biggest money spinners for persuasive food companies. As was laid out so cleal

Friday, 18 February 2011

Building for Water in the Sky

Dear to Back to Tap’s heart is the issue of pollution from water delivery services, as building design evolves to reflect new technological capabilities, and as people seek to re-connect with the concrete world around them, water is certain to play a role. Already, celebrity architects are incorporating water into buildings in exciting ways, and the next step will be the adoption of creative water designs for everyday use.

In Singapore, as buildings rise skyward, so do parks and water features, with the Sands Skypark perched 57 stories above the ground. If humans are going to continue expanding skywards, water must always accompany them.

Rendering of Sands Skypark by Safdie Architects. Courtesy of Marina Bay Sands.

Moving from the monumental architectural use of water by architects from Frank-Lloyd Wright to Zaha Hadid, designers are now thinking about water systems at the household level. Designs for porous concrete, green roofs, grey water recycling systems, and innovative irrigation systems are changing the way we use, recycle and dispose of water.

Artist's impression of Dubai fountains, by Emaar

Monday, 14 February 2011

Culture, Nature & the Future

How will we adapt to the future without plastic? Are people ready to accept that we must change patterns of consumption in order to protect the environment and repair the damage that has already been done.

In this TED Talk, cultural historian and ethnographer Wade Davis describes the interlinking webs of belief and ritual which link humanity - it is through connecting with these universal values and humanism that attitudes towards the Earth and its resources can hopefully be changed.

Enjoy the talk and we hope you will get in touch with Back to Tap to start a discussion on some of his points.

Cities of Future: creative adaptation for an urban species

By 2030, there will be more people living in urban than rural areas. This shift from rural to an urban majority represents a new phase in humans' relationship with the environment. In the next 20 years, Homo sapiens, “the wise human”, will become Homo sapiens urbanus in virtually all regions of the planet. What will this change mean for how natural resources are managed?

Will we all be living in mini apartments and eating produce grown in vertical farms, and how will everyone get along amidst increasing scarcity? All of these questions have been raised before, and what we are interested in is water.

(© Vincent Callebaut)[pixelab]

What is clear is that the coming urban renaissance will require new ideas about how water is managed. Already, cities are starting to re-evaluate how they use and plan for water use. From academics pondering theory to household systems designed to recycle grey water, there are a range of existing solutions to water shortage use and unnecessary pollution. As the global population booms and moves to cities, we are certain to see more innovation.

Already, countries in the Arabian Gulf are using large-scale desalinisation plants to extract water for their desert metropolises - this practice is already leading to hyper-salinity in the sea, with toxic impacts on sealife. As the unsustainable efforts in the Gulf demonstrate, the tightly packed urban world of the future our relationship with water will have to evolve.

When we run out of freshwater on land will be moving to the sea?

Gyre Seascraper © Zigloo

Changing Energy Use - The Way Forward To 2050

Over the weekend Back to Tap read the recently released The Energy Report. 100% Renewable Energy by 2050 launched by WWF, AMO and Ecofys. Amidst so much negative press around climate change, the report is an encouraging plan for the future. Back to Tap was happy to read that solar, wind, hydro and other renewable could conceivably replace fossil fuels within forty years.

This change would mean better water quality – water borne pollution from natural gas drilling and fossil fuel extraction is polluting water from Nigeria to Nebraska, and as we transition away from fossil fuels, it will mean the end of highly polluting industry.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Water for all the neighbours

As Green Design takes off around the world, it is hard to forget that billions of people continue to live on less than $10 per day. As transnational businesses increasingly seek out the custom of the bottom billions, designers must consider the distinctive needs of the global majority. Innovations range from low-cost water pumps, solar heaters and mobile phone chargers to biomass fuel briquettes.

Of particular interest to Back to Tap are low cost water filters and pumps, along with other innovative projects that are leading the way to affordable, safe drinking water for the global majority.

Low-cost water pumping in Uganda with the a treadle pump

With this goal in mind, designers have been experimenting with established technology and new techniques, including the process of layering nanoparticles which can be used to provide safe and affordable water filters .

The experimental process, known as “atomic layer deposition”, involves layering nanoparticles onto a metal or a ceramic to create a thin film of cells. While nanofilters remain in the trial stage, these efforts show a commitment to finding solutions for problems facing billions of people.

As other products like the Hippo Roller and bamboo frame bicycles continue to be developed by designers and manufactured locally in Africa and Asia, it seems as if design is destined to will live up to its potential in transforming lives and creating livelihoods.

Bamboo bicycle glory from Indonesia

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Designing for the Future

In a recent issue of Architectural Design, the authors ask if people would prefer to rely only on technology to adapt to shifting circumstances rather than alter their lifestyles to suit nature's limits. Ironically, we live in a time that is obsessed with both monolithic architecture experiments, and micro efficient lighting, heating and water technology. How do we square the micro with the macro in an increasing inter-connected world?

As we come to the realisation that the planet’s resources are indeed finite, how will these two contradictory desires manifest themselves? Can we build enormous tower block luxury hotels and casinos and still claim to care about the environmental impacts of our actions?

The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest free-standing structure in Dubai. What about design and buildings on a human scale that acknowledge the environment around them?

As buildings get taller and more energy and material intensive, it makes sense to return to the components that make up the built environment and to begin evaluating from the bottom up. Cultivating grassroots change and engaging professionals in design and architecture will be a key challenge for future development.

It remains to be seen how crowd sourcing design solutions for everything from toilets to taps will filter up towards a structural change in the way architects build our cities.

How will small innovations in design come to influence the design of large systems? In one hundred years, will we be living underground, in the sea or in the sky? How will our relationship with the natural world change in the future, and how can design help to improve our relationship with the natural environment? Creative suggestions are most welcome.

New Eco-tower planned for Singapore, by Architects TR Hamza & Yeang

Monday, 7 February 2011

Water in Space

Reading this month's Blueprint Magazine on designing for space, the question of design innovations to meet astronauts’ needs was conspicuously absent. There were fascinating profiles on a new Norman Foster designed commercial spaceport in New Mexico, hopeful space elevators and a re-design of the classic spacesuit, but no mention of water.

Somewhere on the Moon. From:

As on earth, water is essential for life in space – while spaceships and fancy pressurised zoot-suits capture the imagination, water remains a key sticking point for those planning a space holiday or emigration to the Moon. Each astronaut on the International Space Station is allocated about two litres of water daily. They stretch the ration by collecting, cleaning and reusing wastewater, condensate in the air and urine. Water management in space might have lessons for those of us firmly grounded on earth.

The current Water Recycling System (WRS) in use on board reclaims waste water from the Space Shuttle's fuel cells, from oral hygiene and hand washing, and by condensing humidity from the air, and from urine. Without such careful recycling 40,000 pounds per year of water from Earth would be required to resupply a minimum of four crewmembers for the life of the station.

Slightly more complex than earthly water filters, the Sabatier process uses a nickel catalyst to interact with hydrogen and carbon dioxide at elevated temperatures and pressures to produce water and methane. The water is retained for recycling processes, and the methane is vented outside of the space station.

Finally, a little comic irony from those who claim to be using water filter technology developed by aliens.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Plastiki sails the seas

The Back to Tap team enjoyed following the exploits of David de Rothschild and hope that his expedition will inspire others! Where will the Plastiki sail next?

Why choose tap water?

Once regarded as just another European fad, bottled water is now big business in the UK with a market worth close to £2 billion per annum. Now more health conscious and sensible about what we eat and drink, we accept that clean water is important for more than just hydration, but at what are the costs of bottled water?

Environmentalists have begun to question the ethics and logic behind an industry that transports a natural product many thousands of miles and produces mountains of plastic waste. In 2009, over 200,000,000,000 litres of bottled water were consumed globally. This generated 1,500,000 tons of plastic waste, and 170,000,000 litres of oil were required to produce and transport plastic bottles. What happens to all of this waste?

With most plastic bottles being produced for one-time, disposable use, roughly 90% never makes it to be recycling. The UN estimates that at least 80% of the waste in the sea comes from land-based sources, with most it being plastic.[1]

Is it morally acceptable to waste the earth’s energy resources when clean water is still an unthinkable luxury in certain parts of the world? Why are we continuing a cursed love affair with bottled water and what is the alternative?

The alternative is to install a filter tap which will pay for itself in less than a year. As designers catch up and begin to lead the environmental zeitgeist, water filters

Today we are in a position to choose between a number of different water filtering systems and styles according to health requirements and taste. The quality of the filtration systems available today and their appealing range of designs are a clear sign that it is time to return to tapwater.