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Old 09-09-2010, 03:30 PM   #15
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Hey everyone -

RV grey water recycling is a hot topic.... great to have everyone thinking about this and seeing if their is a way to actually do it. Here are our thoughts on how to go about it... but we haven't made any definitive decisions and are continuing to work with professionals in our area to devise the best, most realistic, practical and safe solution possible.

We know that to re-use our shower and rear sink drain water for as 'fresh' water does require a purification process. We don't plan to recycle the front kitchen sink water and will simply let that drain into the grey water tank and that's the end of that. We are only considering the back sink and shower water. We replaced the black water tank with a new fresh water tank. So far it seems like a safe approach is a water distilling process but that takes a very long time to get even a gallon of fresh water and of course uses a lot of energy. Another method, although not as pure, is Reverse Osmosis. It would give us acceptable water quality to re-use for washing hands and taking a shower. Again, this process takes many hours for only a couple gallons and utilizes a fair amount of energy in doing so. Take a look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_osmosis ;


You can also use a solid carbon block filter in a large filter unit but again it will take a long time to push enough grey water through it to be able to take a shower and it will be less pure then the Reverse Osmosis.

In all cases, it seems that it would be a process that would need to be running 100% of the time 'cleaning' the water as it is put back into your secondary (rear) almost fresh water tank. Then when it's time for a shower, you should heave enough almost fresh water there for the showers.

We are carefully reading up on the gallons per minute that each approach can produce so we can calculate the best solution for your situation.


Most grey water recycling products seem to be based on using the grey water, after being filtered, for flushing your toilet not for re-contact with human skin. Since this is not our need we are still in the research phase.

Thanks again for everyone's comments.

Cece and Brenda

www.greenrvlife.com
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Old 09-09-2010, 04:02 PM   #16
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Dodge Ram Pickup TSB index


http://www.tstproducts.com/dowelpinr...tfor94-98.aspx
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Old 09-12-2010, 01:13 PM   #17
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Very cool! I'll be following both blogs!
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Old 09-12-2010, 01:58 PM   #18
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Reverse osmosis filters and charcoal filters are poorly suited to filtering water that contains body oils. They tend to clog up quickly. It was a surprise to me that the charcoal filters I used became ineffective in less than a week.

I use reverse osmosis filtering, and many people don't realize that RO systems bypass a lot of water. You can take advantage of this!

If you have an RO system to provide drinking water, you can use the RO bypass water in a secondary fresh tank for showering/flushing with no further treatment.

If you plan to recycle the water too much, you create another problem - not enough water for your septic system/drain to work properly in a worst case.

If you do basic rainwater filtering, then have that feed into an RO system, which provides drinking/kitchen water, and then have the bypass of that run into a secondary fresh tank for the bathroom, and use the gray and black tanks as normal feeding into the septic system, you get a weird and happy balance of filtering the cleanest water and processing the harder to treat water.

Also, you avoid bottled water and the environmental impact that entails.
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Old 09-12-2010, 02:34 PM   #19
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If the aluminum that your Airstream is constructed of comes from Alcoa, they are ranked as one of the top 10 polluters in the U.S. In 2006 alone they were sited with over 2000 enviormental violations and fined 9.2 millon dollars, and they still continue to pollute. Each tire an Airstream rolls on consume about 7 gallons of petroleum in their manufacture.The sealants used to watreproof them are toxic so You may practice "Green" living in an Airstream, like living in an abandoned Coal fired power plant, but there is nothing "Green" about an Airstream.
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Old 09-12-2010, 05:46 PM   #20
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Reality check

IMO, replacing most (usable) seven-year old counter-tops, flooring, and upholstery isn't really green, even if so-called "green" materials are used. Your trailer, your call.

You probably won't be considered very green by the campground owners who kick you out or have you arrested for emptying your alleged "compost" on the ground or in the trash. Doing this on your own property is one thing--on someone else's it's risky--not everyone thinks about sewage the way you do. Removing the code-approved black water system that could be acceptably emptied throughout the country is the biggest mistake you've made so far, again, IMO. You still need a black tank for the composting toilet overflow.

Reusing gray water for the few gallons it takes to flush a toilet for a week is one thing. Making and maintaining it sanitary enough to breath as you shower, much less to rinse on your hair and skin, well that's quite another. And where do you think all the air pollution goes during a rain? Saving pennies on fresh water isn't worth the health risks to me.

Airstreams are built the way they are based on experience. Their wall and ceiling R value of approximately five, and window R value of approximately zero, can hardly be called green--but it's practical for their intended use. Use one in a hot, sunny location (where solar panels work) and you may be wondering if you should install 50 amp power and a second air-conditioner. Of course, moving to the shade helps with that.

Use them in a cold winter and discover you'd need more solar panels than you have roof space just to power the furnace and keep all that water in the belly from freezing--much less that you need an extra pair of full propane tanks in the truck to swap out every few days as both the furnace and generators eat through it. Follow the mild weather and you should be okay. But at least put some awnings on that thing!

Good luck with the WVO thing out on the road... and with your dreams.
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Old 10-03-2010, 05:08 PM   #21
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I wanted to comment on this post as it seems a few of the rather negative comments may have brought it to a screeching halt. I hope Cece was not discouraged by the response.

Having been on the road full-time for over a year and a half in our "Greenstream", I think we can speak from experience on some of these ideas and issues. We incorporated and/or looked at many of the same systems and features that they are talking about. Some of them we abandoned as not practical or even possible, some of them were too expensive, and some of them simply need some more research or new technology. Here is some of what we learned along the way.

The composting toilet that we use "Natures Head", unlike the SunMar unit that they are considering uses virtually no energy other than a tiny little fan that runs off our 12V. Even under full-time use, it has only needed to be emptied 3-4 times per year (other than urine that we simply put in the toilet). We do not have a black tank, and RoadKingMoe is incorrect in thinking that you need one. Properly maintained, the toilet simply produces rich dark compost and the ways we have disposed of it are discussed in our post http://www.airforums.com/forums/f444...let-65154.html It is not sewage, but we are very sensitive about how and where we dispose of it.

As for recycling gray water, I hope that they will find an effective way to do this as we were unsuccessful. RO systems, filters, etc. are simply too slow to handle the volume. You would also have to carry around the added weight of all that largely unusable water while it is being filtered. Our solution was to use low-flow faucets and shower heads, and limit our use of water by taking "navy" showers. We have it down to about 5-7 gallons per day and we both shower every day. We empty our gray water at the RV dump stations in the campgrounds at which we stay. Our fresh water and gray water tanks are pretty closely matched so we fill and empty at the same time.

We also considered a rainwater catchment system and decided against it as this water also would need to be filtered or processed before it can be used and once again you are carrying around that extra weight while you attempt to process it. There is lots of road grime that gets on your trailer as drive, just take a look at the water in your bucket when you wash it! Most rainwater systems are used for watering the garden.

WVO was also ruled out for us as it is quite messy to deal with when you are stationary, let alone traveling down the road. I would recommend using bio-diesel whenever possible.

The good news is both our composting toilet and solar system work flawlessly and we do not carry a generator. Recently as we sat through a tropical storm at a friends house, all the houses around us where without power while we sat there warm and dry running our lights and computer, surfing the net, while our refrigerator, stove and water heater ticked right along on the small amount of propane that they consume.

As for whether or not an Airstream can truly be "green", I think the answer is of course not. But we look at the bigger picture. Our little green home on wheels is deluxe living in 150 solar powered square feet to us. We do not have a house and all the energy that it consumes, we only drive on vehicle, we conserve our water, recycle and reuse whenever we can, and that my friends is the best that any of us can do. There is no perfect green lifestyle, but at least we do our best to make a difference. Aluminum IS one of the most energy intensive products on the planet, but the upside is that it is inoxyadable, and properly maintained can last virtually forever. Our 48 year old Airstream is proof of that. We also "recycled" our trailer and gave an old soldier a new lease on life that will hopefully make it last another 48 years or more! I think the point of replacing perfectly good counters, floors, etc. is well taken, however our trailer was pretty well gutted, so it was not an issue.

I hope Cece and her partner will continue to search for exciting new ways to live their dream and share them with those of us here that want to hear them. If they find some ways to do the things we were unable to achieve, I for one will incorporate them!
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Old 10-03-2010, 05:16 PM   #22
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I would happily use captured rainwater by having a potable tank and a non-potable tank for showering/flushing. The elimination of the black tank creates a handy space for this.

I have seen an interesting recirculating shower that uses 1.2 gallons of water and recirculates it, heating it slightly each time, and skimming off any oils on the water. It seems quite workable and you can take long, hot showers - you just need to remember to wash the dirtiest bits last
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Old 10-03-2010, 05:43 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FLYNCLD View Post
...black tank, RoadKingMoe is incorrect in thinking that you need one.
Hopefully, they read their Sun-Mar instructions instead of your advice.

They are required to have an overflow catch, i.e. a black tank, perhaps not as large as the original, but a black tank nonetheless. This holds the urine and feces that overflows from the Sun-Mar when liquid evaporation can't keep up with the liquid input. To prevent overflow from occurring, they may have to do as you do with your toilet... quite literally, pee in a funnel in a jug and empty it much more often than the toilet.
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Old 10-03-2010, 06:44 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadKingMoe View Post
Hopefully, they read their Sun-Mar instructions instead of your advice.

They are required to have an overflow catch, i.e. a black tank, perhaps not as large as the original, but a black tank nonetheless. This holds the urine and feces that overflows from the Sun-Mar when liquid evaporation can't keep up with the liquid input. To prevent overflow from occurring, they may have to do as you do with your toilet... quite literally, pee in a funnel in a jug and empty it much more often than the toilet.
I am not that familiar with the SunMar, so thank you for your advice. I hope they are and will follow the instructions. In the meantime I will pee in my jug!
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Old 10-04-2010, 08:45 AM   #25
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Glad to see your post and I'll be following it.

"Going green" is certainly relative to how each person has been living, and where one lives. Fortunately, I'm not in an area that I need to "conserve" water. However, I use a pump sprayer for my showers. Each time using less than a gallon, and most of the time using less than 1/2 gallon. Admittedly, I have very little hair, so it doesn't take much to rinse. I heat water on the stove if I want a warm shower. I suppose that uses less LP than the water heater. For washing dishes, I use a hand pump sprayer with a little hose into a 1 liter Gatorade bottle. Works great, and it's a good forearm workout to boot!

The best water filter I've found is mother nature. I have a well that uses 220V AC, and my Airstream is still hooked to 120V AC. As soon as I can figure out a better way to run the AC, I'll go solar/batteries and all 12V. No doubt, a bank of lead/acid batteries are not "green". For me, it's more about getting off-grid, and doing as much as I can myself. And most importantly, to me off grid means no monthly payments.

Solar power and a hand pump well are my next goals. I just need to figure out the AC. It gets quite hot in SC.
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Old 10-04-2010, 09:00 AM   #26
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Lead acid batteries are quite green. They are made from >98% recycled batteries, take relatively little energy to manufacture and the only frequent environmental hazard is an acid spill - which biodegrades with soil bacteria. Given the job they do, if used with solar panels I think they may provide a net benefit if used so that their life is long.
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:56 AM   #27
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Good information from everyone... no we aren't discouraged... we just have a certain way of looking at and experiencing life and for us these changes are definitely green and moving us in the right direction. We are down-sizing and once we are on the road we will be using less resources than we are now. I wanted to let everyone know where we are in the process. The AS dealer that was supposed to install the sun-mar toilet didn't. Unfortunately, they didn't know how to do it and strung us along for 6 weeks while they had our trailer. Finally when we said we were coming to pick it up they acknowledged that they didn't put it in and didn't quite know how. So that's fine. We are looking for a local installer with some experience. We spoke with sun-mar directly and while the instructions say to have an overflow tank (just in case the urine overflows and the fan/heater can't keep up with it) they encouraged us to go ahead and remove the black water tank. We haven't done anything yet and will decide soon. We were looking into the Nature's Head toilet but really don't want to have to empty the urine collector once it reaches 2.2 gallons. But it is alot less $$$ to buy it. So we are still deciding. Also for us... our bathroom is super small and the sun-mar is a bit larger... needs 38 inches in length in order to remove the finishing drawer. We will be a bit tight if we put this is in but it could work.

The veggie oil conversion will be installed in October. We have a 150 gallon aluminum tank that will stay in the bed of the truck. We know several people using veggie oil in their diesel truck so we feel pretty comfortable about this process and collecting and filtering oil. More info about this at our site and blog Conserve. Explore. Inspire. - Our Green RV Life - Home. We currently use diesel in the main tank of the truck but once we have the veggie system down and feel comfortable with it we will switch and use bio-diesel in the main tank. We want to employ one system at a time and get all the kinks out before we add another system to the mix.

I really don't see these forums as a tit for tat. I see this as an opportunity for everyone to share their dream and how they are enjoying their AS life... whether they are full-timing or just hitting the road once a year. I for one am super happy everyone is here and is actually interested in what each other is doing.

We are currently taking off the mousefur from the walls. We are using a green stripper called "soy-it" and it is working great. No nasty fumes or toxic chemicals. The aluminum underneath actually looks great. It's not the polished version but it still looks great. We will probably leave some of the bare aluminum and paint over some of it. We will be writing about it all and posting pics at our website.

Everyone have a great day and get out their and play!

Brenda and Cece
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Old 11-10-2010, 01:18 PM   #28
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We have a 2003 safari with the mouse fur up most of the wall and then vinyl "baby bumper" type material on the ceiling. We have pulled back the carpet from about a 1/3 of the wall so far and it was pretty easy to do. There is adhesive underneath which you can choose to clean off or not. We found a green adhesive remover which isn't toxic and doesn't smell called "soy it" and it works great. Unfortunately, the grade of alum. underneath isn't as nice and a bit dull so I don't think we are going to leave it bare. We are considering putting a no VOC wall covering on it possibly with a membrane between. Since the aluminum bleeds through and there were several spots on the carpet that were darkened by this. We assume the same thing could happen with a wall covering even the thicker kind we are considering. We have also been tossing around what other thicker materials we could put back on the walls to help with insulation and sound. There is an eco friendly material called marmoleum we have also considered. Comes in a million color choices. Anyone have any thoughts or ideas?
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