Five billion people could be facing water shortage by 2050, warns a recent UN report of increased demand. We do not have to wrack our brains too much to come up with the reasons — pollution, climate change and increasing demands.
And a group of five students from the Shiv Nadar School in Gurugram take such reports very seriously.
In 2019, the students decided to take up ‘water conservation’ as part of their class X project. Aditya Tanwar, Arjun Singh Bedi, Jeiya Khurana, Mohammad Umar, and Piya Sharma, who like to call themselves — Fluid Force — came up with a simple device which can save over 1000 litres of water rejected by RO systems in a day.
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The device is like a tap which can be fixed to our washbasins, uses the RO wastewater, recycles it, and pumps it back into the regular tap, which can then be used for multiple purposes.
The Better India (TBI) caught up with Arjun and Jeiya to know more about their project.
Taking Inspiration from Water Woes
The students, now in class 10, wanted to solve a clear problem — devise a way to effectively curb water wastage from RO systems. After talking to their mentors and researching online, the enterprising team came up with a Do-It-Yourself mechanical setup, which can be fixed easily on regular plumbing systems at home.
“One of our prime concerns was the rapid depletion of groundwater. While it all started as a school project, we soon realised that we can come up with something that could make a huge impact on water conservation,” Arjun tells TBI.
“It is common knowledge that the ROs we use at home lead to a lot of water waste. Most households use this water to mop floors, water plants, and clean bathrooms. However, the high concentration of Total Dissolved Salts (TDS) in the water could lead to an accumulation of salt on the floor and might even affect plants in the long term,” adds Jeiya.
The found out through their research that a standalone RO wastes 3 litres of water for every 1 litre that it purifies. “We knew we needed to tackle this issue urgently,” shares Arjun.
How does their innovation work?
The team places a large bin/bucket to collect the RO wastewater. This water is pumped back to the washbasin via a pipe which has the team’s device attached to it. “In effect, your regular kitchen basin tap is replaced with the one that we have designed,” explains Arjun. With this alteration, when you switch on the tap, the RO wastewater gets mixed with regular water and flows out.
“To design the prototype we knocked on every possible door. From teachers to plumbers to engineers. Secondly, the school and personal contributions funded the project. The final device is a result of many trials and errors,” informs Arjun.
They installed their device within the school premises first. The success of this installation led to install their device in a few houses in their neighbourhoods and their relatives to check its effectiveness.
Next came public places and the students visited commercial hubs where their device now saves about 600 litres/day. Likewise, they implemented the project in other places including Tamil Nadu Dosa Corner (900 litres/day), and Commissioner’s Office (300 litres/day) among others.
The project, launched in 2019-2020, has saved around 1,815 litres/day water.
“We have been lucky that we have been getting good reviews. We had the chance to meet the Deputy Commissioner of Gurugram, Amit Khatri, who was not just enthusiastic about our idea but also went ahead and allowed us to fit the tap in his office and monitor the wastewater that we save.”
“Moreover, we have already created a sample model of an advanced, automatic version of the prototype which uses solenoid valves, which help in mixing the RO wastewater with the regular water, to direct the flow of water. This had been done to make it more user friendly,” says Jeiya.
Both Arjun and Jeiya attribute a lot of the success that the team has been able to achieve to the unflinching support by their IT project head, Mark Nelson.
What were the challenges?
“Believe it or not, the issue we faced was not in developing the product, but in ensuring that it is aesthetically done. No one would want to have to look at something that sticks out like a sore thumb every day,” laughs Arjun.
The first few prototypes were all big and with time they managed to bring in a lot of finesse to their final product. “Even now I would say it is work in progress and we are still finding ways to make it more visually appealing,” says Jeiya.
The total cost for this setup, as of now, is Rs 1000 and Jeiya is hopeful that once the COVID-19 situation clears up, they will be able to procure more orders thus reducing the price too.
“While we continue to make the products ourselves as of now, we are looking at tying up with manufacturers who might be in a better position to mass-produce this,” explains Jeiya.
Monica Sagar, Principal Shiv Nadar School, Gurugram, says, “Sustainable existence is at the heart of the lessons learnt from COVID-19. This group of students made water conservation their sole objective as they researched and developed this the whole of last year.”
The team is also looking to apply for a patent and will soon have their products up for sale on various e-commerce platforms.
Jyotika Bedi, Arjun’s mother says, “We believe that the best gift we can give our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to try, fall, fail, make mistakes and experience life. It is important for us to give them the freedom to believe in themselves.”
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)