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Old 12-16-2018, 07:18 AM   #1
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2004 22' International CCD
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Grey water recycling idea

Hi all. Just moved into my 22í International CCD and am slowly getting settled. My setup is 100% off grid Ė no hookups. I am located in MD, so itís cold this time of year, but I have the propane heater working just fine. I am in the process of putting together a 400W solar system for electricity. Currently using a cheap generator until itís complete. That leaves me with my water ďproblemĒ, and the reason for reaching out on the forums today.

I am located near a natural water source. Initial plan was to pull water from the source into the trailer with a 12v pump, after filtration via micron and carbon filters. Issue I ran into is the water source is brackish. I am estimating 5,000-10,000ppm, and would therefore require some sort of desalination process to make it potable. I built the pump and filtration system anyway, and it fits nicely into a pelican case. It is powered via an onboard (in the case) 20W panel and a 4Ah battery and is completely self-contained. After speaking with my friend about my dilemma, he recommended I explore the idea of using that system to purify grey water for re-use. Iím reaching out to the forums to get more ideas on this process, specifically related to the plumbing technicalities as well as the overall feasibility of purifying grey water.

Iíd like you to poke holes in this plan. Grey and fresh water tanks would be full (21gal and 30gal, res.). My filtration system would be plumbed into bottom of grey tank and would feed city water connection (pump will maintain 20-60psi output, depending on setting). Fresh water tank would be used for refilling grey tank when it gets low. Every few weeks I would top off the fresh water tank with 5 gallons or so Ė essentially whatever amount is consumed for drinking, cooking, and other minor losses. This, in theory, would permit ďunlimitedĒ length showers, which would be a nice side-affect.

Open to suggestions. Cheers!
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Old 12-16-2018, 08:20 AM   #2
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Maybe reach out to NASA. On the space station I believe they recycle and use Ďallí the water. I mean ALL the water. They could probably tell you what kind of technology and filtration that takes.
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Old 12-16-2018, 08:56 AM   #3
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Hi

Any *safe* form of water re-use is going to be a very complex process. Rendering "natural" water safe is also a bit complex. There are a lot of things that can get into water. Often "canned" solutions cover the bases better than DIY setups. The yacht world run gear to go from saltwater to fresh water. Generally a gallon a day is a pretty good number. They *do* gobble up power doing it.

NASA plays games with distillation. They have a *lot* of solar to work with so that is a bit of an advantage.

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Old 12-16-2018, 09:43 AM   #4
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Thanks for the comments, gents. The gentleman that offered up the recycling idea happens to work at NASA and is quite familiar with the inner-workings of the ISS. He says they re-use a high percentage of the grey water, but still need to resupply occasionally due to unavoidable losses. I suppose my approach at this point will be to get a water sampling kit and run some tests on the recycled water to evaluate its quality.

I'm thinking of tapping into the low-point drain on the grey tank. I'm not currently at my Airstream at the moment. Does this drain have a fitting of sorts on it that, say, a garden hose could attach to?

Edit: I should add that I have toyed with the idea of reverse osmosis filtration as a means to access the local water source but as was mentioned previously, the electrical demand would be enormous - much too high for my simple battery bank.
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Old 12-17-2018, 07:46 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dashash View Post
Thanks for the comments, gents. The gentleman that offered up the recycling idea happens to work at NASA and is quite familiar with the inner-workings of the ISS. He says they re-use a high percentage of the grey water, but still need to resupply occasionally due to unavoidable losses. I suppose my approach at this point will be to get a water sampling kit and run some tests on the recycled water to evaluate its quality.

I'm thinking of tapping into the low-point drain on the grey tank. I'm not currently at my Airstream at the moment. Does this drain have a fitting of sorts on it that, say, a garden hose could attach to?

Edit: I should add that I have toyed with the idea of reverse osmosis filtration as a means to access the local water source but as was mentioned previously, the electrical demand would be enormous - much too high for my simple battery bank.
Hi

RO really does *not* have a high electrical demand. A normal filter based setup will get you a gallon a day and dump about 5 gallons a day. Your pump will need to "move" 6 gallons as a result. No more power than running the pump in your trailer to move the same amount of water. I've run RO setups like that for years and years.

RO does *not* get rid of all the "bad stuff" in a water supply. The testing required to be sure that a system is safe is pretty involved. It is not uncommon to find that your local water authority has a hard time keeping up with all of it.

This all assumes you will be drinking the water / using it for cooking / washing the dishes with it. If the water source is simply for the shower and the bathroom ... that's a totally different objective.

Bob
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Old 12-17-2018, 09:01 AM   #6
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I happen to be an engineer that makes satellites for NASA, i don't have anything to do with the space station or water filtration though.

You're not in space though, copying the space station setup is probably extreme overkill.

Something that comes to mind is all the crud that develops in the grey tank. Beard trimmings, toothpaste, food bits, etc. I'd put the fitting an inch or so off the bottom.

If you're fully stationary, I'd think an external system would be easier than trying to fit it all internal to the Airstream.
Bury two containers (so they don't freeze, could also just heat them) and do a natural purification setup. Gravel/sand/charcoal/etc. in the first container, store this clean water in the second container. This minimizes rework to your existing plumbing, lets you "flush" the grey tank into it every now and then, and you can also collect rainwater into it, pump your brackish water source into it, etc.

Once you've got it filtered to your hearts content, I'd use a UV sanitizer for the water that gets used for drinking/cooking to take care of the last of the viruses.

There is a lot of information online about how to safely filter water, more than I know off the top of my head

Why the constraint of trying to fit it in a pellican case?
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Old 12-17-2018, 11:36 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Any *safe* form of water re-use is going to be a very complex process. Rendering "natural" water safe is also a bit complex. There are a lot of things that can get into water. Often "canned" solutions cover the bases better than DIY setups. The yacht world run gear to go from saltwater to fresh water. Generally a gallon a day is a pretty good number. They *do* gobble up power doing it.

NASA plays games with distillation. They have a *lot* of solar to work with so that is a bit of an advantage.

Bob
A gallon a day for salt water filteration? The one I used gave 5 gallons an hour. It's normal to see systems that give 30gph.

Rendering natural water safe. It's actually pretty easy if you do your research. As always. Boiling it is the easiest method to come to mind. Many filters remove viruses. Uv, another great method. You see in many developing countries, piles of plastic pet bottles all over everyone's roof. This is the most simple form of UV purification that millions of people without access to clean water do on a daily basis.

Your experimentation and imagination are your limits!!
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Old 12-17-2018, 09:04 PM   #8
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Loving the conversation.

The pelican case came about as a design feature for my original project, which was to create a self-powered, contained, and portable water filtration system for car campers, overlanders, hunting/fishing cabins, etc. The idea was that you simply deploy the unit wherever you need fresh water and everything required for the operation is contained within the sturdy shell of the pelican. This idea, naturally expanded (as most of my ideas tend to), into creating a filtration system for my semi-permanently anchored Airstream that takes advantage of nearby water.

Regarding RO - my brief research has led me to the conclusion that pump output pressure required through the RO membrane is relative to the salinity of the water. Ocean water is around 35,000ppm, fresh water is <500ppm, and the water I have access to is 5,000-10,000ppm (based on salinity charts - haven't tested it myself). Ocean water requires ~800psi, brackish (~10,000ppm) requires ~200psi, and lightly brackish (<1,000ppm) requires even less psi. A pump that can deliver 200psi is going to be upwards of 10amp draw, which would be stretching my current setup.

I really do like the idea of the natural filtration with charcoal, sand, etc. This wouldn't remove salt, though, correct? I need to do more research in that area.

I think there's a middle ground here where I use brackish water from the local source for showering and flushing (maybe just carbon and micron filters), and haul in clean water for drinking, cooking, dishes, etc. Either way I'll keep everyone up to date with the progress. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the filtration design.
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Old 12-17-2018, 09:07 PM   #9
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Old 12-17-2018, 09:07 PM   #10
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I do water for a living. To get water to potable can be done, you need physical filtration and then some form of disinfection (UV, OZONE, Chlorine) to be safe. Iím not sure you could miniaturize a system required to treat to potable standards that requires little energy use.

Donít forget the disinfection step.....
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Old 12-18-2018, 04:40 AM   #11
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I do water for a living. To get water to potable can be done, you need physical filtration and then some form of disinfection (UV, OZONE, Chlorine) to be safe. Iím not sure you could miniaturize a system required to treat to potable standards that requires little energy use.

Donít forget the disinfection step.....
Understood. I've always wondered how long (generally) water should be exposed to UV light to be "completely" disinfected. Do you have any information on UV light sizing requirements for a given volume of water? Could I, say, place a UV light on top of a 1/2" diameter section of plastic piping (flowing water) and disinfect flowing water as it is pumped?
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Old 12-18-2018, 05:12 AM   #12
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”Feel free to poke holes . . . ?”



Way overthinking this.

Labor costs far exceed rewards.

One deep freeze plus possible fuel re-supply issues, notably a week without sun, would torpedo the entire rig.

Sheer folly IMO.

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Old 12-18-2018, 06:25 AM   #13
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From a code, safety and health standpoint any connection between the grey or waste water and the fresh tank would be a serious no no.
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Old 12-18-2018, 08:21 AM   #14
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<<snip>>
I think there's a middle ground here where I use brackish water from the local source for showering and flushing (maybe just carbon and micron filters), and haul in clean water for drinking, cooking, dishes, etc. Either way I'll keep everyone up to date with the progress. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the filtration design.
I think you are onto the solution! I would add a touch of chlorine to the water tank each time it is filled.
This should work, if your solar/pump/filter system can produce enough water to meet your toiletry needs.
Each time if/when you move the trailer to somewhere you have hookups, do a complete sanitizing of the water system to enjoy full use.
When you sell the trailer make sure this "unusual use" is fully disclosed to the new owner.

ps: to make the pump work on your schedule (day or night), you might consider solar charging a battery to power the pump. Or, power the pump from the trailer's batteries.

ps2: Did you consider digging a shallow well or driving a well point? This will lessen the likelihood of getting critters in the FW tank. How are you disposing of sewerage (thinking of well contamination)?
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