Investing attention towards Tiny Homes has really opened up our eyes in what issues are present and what options / products are available.
Tiny Homes have more real issues than town houses or apartments, but we can learn from them. Tiny Homes need to be aware of power, sewer, grey water and drinking water. A true Tiny Home is purposed to be free of all these services in the goal off-grid and being able to be situated anywhere. Each of these items we have recently addressed and we are now looking to see which of these (if any) we inject into town houses / apartments or residential houses.
Grey Water Recycling
This is one area where we have already excelled. Our system has been mentioned in earlier blogs https://www.atomic6.com.au/post/thermal-test However, one thing we have decided to do for Tiny Homes is make all glazing out of 7mm thick Acrylic (which has better thermal properties than a double glazed system) but for around half the weight. It is more durable and less likely to break while on the road. The acrylic we have opted for is SAR (Super Abrasive Resistant) which is more expensive but essential as it wont scratch. It means we can also cut our own glazing in the factory which reduces time and cost.
For residential houses this is also something we want to include as simply its a better result. Acrylic glazing with PVC framing - much better than an aluminium double glazed product.
We have met our fire engineer about the use of this acrylic option for apartments due to the combustible nature of acrylic. Even though its combustibility is low, there are many ways to deal with this as simply as adding a sprinkler system to the facade. Using this option we can have 10mm acrylic and have massive windows (glazing is limited with sizes). So this is something we are keen to see happen which will go that little bit further towards insane energy rating outcomes.
This is something we have already addressed and wont expand on much here (100% solar cover with mass battery storage). https://www.atomic6.com.au/post/private-clean-energy-micro-grids Having said that we are working on an even better way to do flow batteries which can be used for apartments which is very exciting. More to come.
For Tiny Homes, we are likely to opt for a standard lithium-ion system due to weight. In 3-5 years there will be much better system, but for now this will need to do.
OK, this is where we are getting a little 'next level'. We have come across a system for toilets called 'Incinerator Toilets'. I saw something about these not long ago when watching a documentary about Bill Gates.
The incinerator toilet is water-less. Essentially the toilet contains the urine and faeces and 'burns' it using very high temp. The result is a small amount of ash that is to be removed periodically. Faeces is approx 75% water so the resultant ash or remains is very minimal. The system we are looking at uses power only (something we have plenty of). There is no need for a sewer system at all. Very cool. But very expensive,
They need a paper liner for each use along with the periodical empty which is fine for the Tiny House user, but could this be adopted into apartments / houses? Would be great to see a 100 apartment building in town not relying on the town sewerage system (which in itself creates a lot of environmental pollutants / greenhouse emissions).
Each of these toilets are expensive (for now), but so is the sewer plumbing and connection to the towns sewer system... But a major step towards true off grid
Grey Water Recycling
This is also important for a Tiny Home where there is no connection to towns water or a tap. The term 'grey water' has been around for a long time in residential housing, but all this really refers to is the diversion of this water to be used for watering of the garden etc. The actual grey water is far from reusable without being treated.
We have been exploring treatment systems that will be able to capture grey water from shower, sink, dishwasher, washing machine then treat it to be able to be reused for:
Sink (general washing or basic use - not drinking) - a separate drinking tap will be provided (see below)
This means that 80-90% of this water is continually processed and recycled and only replaced when there is abundance of water such as after a rainfall.
The proper machines good enough to do what we require is medium in size and reasonably expensive, however we are currently in talks with 3 Chinese companies that are seeking to customize a system for Atomic 6 that can be attached to a Tiny Home (or apartment) and is not too expensive to exclude from being an option.
The output of the treated water is going to be <0.13mmol/L which theoretically could be consumed, however this is not what the plan is. This is done via pressure and multiple treatment vessel types.
Once again; should this be adopted to residential houses / apartments should the size and cost (and sound) all stack up. Would people even care?
The size isn't a big problem, as last week we developed a way to store liquids in the internal walls of a house... This can be used for all dwellings and for water / grey water or even battery electrolyte. More to come...
The whole point of the grey water system is to preserve the amount of water available for drinking or food prep. Typically this will be collected from the roof (rain water) then stored in a tank and pumped via a simple water filter to a tap. The idea is to provide options at a sink to have both recycled and treated grey water or drinking water.
In apartments or residential houses we would never seek to replace town water. The general public would not accept this, we would just look at the reusing of this water via the grey water treatment.