ESA Technology Transfer Success Story - Closing the loop: how space technology could relieve water scarcity on Earth [Aug/2022]
Using technology created for ESA’s MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) Project (to build a closed life support system), French company Firmus successfully commercialised spin-off technology FGWRS, a terrestrial grey water (non-toilet wastewater) recycling system.
Today 3.6 billion people, nearly half of the global population, are living in potentially water-scarce areas at least one month per year. MELiSSA is a European project within the European Space Agency (ESA), bringing many research institutes and organisations together to develop circular life support systems for the ISS and beyond. Membrane specialists Firmus have been involved in the MELiSSA project since the early 2000s, developing the Firmus Grey Water Recycling System (FGWRS).
The system uses organic and inorganic membranes to purify greywater, and is capable of producing drinking-grade water for full recycling, without the use of chemical treatment. The technology can recycle between 75 and 85% of greywater.
FGWRS have already secured several high-profile clients and are in discussions with a variety of potential users. FGWRS has successfully trialled their solution in a number of locations, including the changing rooms at the Roland-Garros tennis tournament (using water from players’ showers to flush the changing room toilets), the Monaco Pavilion at the Dubai 2020 Expo, the Océanographic Museum in Monaco and several private residencies in Monaco. Commercial users benefit from reduced water bills after installation, as greywater is recycled. As a reference, for a hotel with 100 rooms and 100% occupation ratio/year, FGWRS will save 7913m3 of drinkable water and 209 MWh of energy. Further savings can be made if FGWRS is combined with a heat recovery unit, allowing users to save on energy bills.
A recent survey of over 10,000 people across 17 countries demonstrated that sustainability is an increasingly important purchase criterion for many customers; 85% of respondents reported shifting their purchasing towards more sustainable options over the last 5 years and 60% of consumers rated sustainability as an important criterion when making a purchase.
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This initiative is led by ESA's Technology Transfer and Patent Management Unit (TTPO) in ESA's Directorate for Commercialisation, Industry & Procurement. The Unit is guiding start-ups, entrepreneurs and European businesses in developing spin-offs for ESA's space technologies. More recent successful transfers can be accessed at: Technology Transfer - Funded Projects. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.