Orbital Systems raises £15M Series B for ‘NASA-inspired’ tech to save water when showering

Orbital Systems, a ‘clean-tech’ startup out of Sweden, has raised £15 million in Series B funding. The company’s founder and CEO Mehrdad Mahdjoubi has developed new re-purification technology, in collaboration with NASA, that significantly reduces the amount of water and energy used when taking a shower. The same technology can also be used to save water in other domestic situations.

Dubbed “OAS,” Orbital Systems’ futuristic shower, which can either be bought as a retro-fit option or a brand new installation, works by essentially recycling shower water in a closed loop. The clever bit, however, is the filter tech that ensures bacteria and other ‘bad’ elements found in water coming off your body is removed in each cycle and that if the water is deemed too contaminated, it’s discarded altogether. The result is that the company claims OAS consumes only 5 litres of water compared to up to 150 for a 15 minute shower.

In a call with Mahdjoubi, he explained that during a typical shower, only a few minutes are spent flushing soap suds and shampoo down the drain. The rest of time the water is a lot clearer. The tech he has developed is able to sense the two scenarios and filter or discard accordingly.

However, there is another major advantage to recycling each shower’s water: huge savings in power. That’s because, says the Orbital Systems founder, the temperature of shower water usually only loses a few degrees from shower head to drain. By using digital technology and because the water is recycled in a loop, the OAS only needs to bring it back up to temperature rather than heating the water from scratch.

In a nice piece of sentiment, Mahdjoubi says that resources, such as water and energy, are extremely scarce on a space mission but should be treated as equally precious on earth. His company’s mission goes beyond applying the tech to showers and Mahdjoubi hinted at future products for the home (a washing machine, perhaps?). If showering was the only use-case to be commercially rolled out, Orbital Systems will have failed, he says.

Meanwhile, the startup’s Series B backers include Skype founder Niklas Zennström, who has once again invested in a personal capacity. Also participating are Karl-Johan Persson (CEO of H&M), af Jochnick family (founding family of global makeup brand Oriflame), Stena Ventures, and Nils Idoff.