Air shower could cut water use by almost a third

As householders become increasingly alert to the importance of using water wisely in the home, researchers in Australia have found a way to use a third less water when you shower – by adding air.

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The scientists have developed a simple ‘air shower’ device which, when fitted into existing showerheads, fills the water droplets with a tiny bubble of air. The result is the shower feels just as wet and just as strong as before, but now uses much less water.

The researchers, from CSIRO Manufacturing Materials Technology in Melbourne, say the device increases the volume of the shower stream while reducing the amount of water used by about 30 per cent.

The Aerated Showerhead creates the sensation of having a full and steady stream of water even though the water is now more like a wet shell around a bubble of air.

CSIRO accepts the general concept of using an aerated showerhead to save water is not new, but believes the technology behind its device is novel. Almost two years of research and development led to the creation of a small nozzle that fits inside a standard shower head, using a partial vacuum to form tiny bubbles in the water.

Dr Jie Wu, who led the development team, said: “The nozzle creates a vacuum that sucks in air and forces it into the water stream. We make the water droplets in the stream hollow and the bubbles expand the volume of the shower stream.”

Small-scale experiments using the aeration device found that people detected no difference in water pressure, sensation, or overall perception of showering.

CSIRO now hopes to find partners that will allow it to develop an affordable commercial version of the device which would be simple enough to be installed by householders.