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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:28 am 
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Hey all

I'm looking for some reference links on DIY'ing an automatic grey water distillation setup for rural residential use.

I've done a 5 gallon bio sand filter at home. I have found how to build a solar still although I haven't made one yet. And I've seen a number of videos of people catching grey water from the house such as from a washing machine. I am thinking about how to connect them all together.

I envision the following setup:
  • Grey water from the house (shower, kitchen sink, bathroom sinks, washing machine, dishwasher) but no black water nor garage/shop washout
  • 55 gallon steel drums to receive the effluent (or perhaps the plastic 275-330's usually used for rainwater collection)
  • Solar panel powered pump to transfer to still array set up in parallel or series
  • Still array needs to be sized to handle ~320 to ~400 gallons per day (typical household volume)
  • After collection from stills, pumped to bio sand in 55 gallon or another 275-330 to filter any other evaporated contaminants (alcohol, for example, but some soaps, etc too)
  • Collection from bio sand filters to long term storage containers (same as huge rain harvest tanks)

I believe this will alleviate the vast majority of pathogens & particulates in the water early on by not permitting the grey water to pool for significant time, high temperature, evaporation itself, secondary filtration, etc.

I'm trying to determine how much square footage I'd need to handle typical household volume of water use. The big limitation on the solar side is the volume of water distilled per sq ft of distillery. I can't buy a piece of equipment that can handle 3 gallons per day. I am looking for what I could affordably build DIY that has the capacity.

And I am considering other alternatives such as creating a steam turbine for power, capturing the steam as clean(er) water, possibly including a stage where I could add fuel/heat to boost or even replace the solar heating of the water during winter, etc. Then there are other considerations, including how automated is it? How often does the solar still array need to be cleaned of debris (soap scum, for one). How to ensure the still array cannot overflow and contaminate downstream storage, etc.

Does anyone in this group have a system such as this? I see lots of little pieces of this on the web, but nothing integrated. Once I have the solar still part figured out, I can see what else is do-able in terms of space & what it would cost to do.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:53 am 
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I like the idea, there are problems though. If you're talking solar still, like shallow pools with tarps or something over them to use the sun to evaporate the water. You're going to need a LOT of sq ft. I've seen people make solar stills, it gets you a mouthful of water ever few hours. Honestly I think you're talking half an acre or more? Just look into making sea salt. They have MASSIVE pools to evaporate all the water, it takes weeks. If you're in AZ maybe you could do it.

I think you're better choice is going with a collection pond that's graded down on the end where the contaminates will settle. Having plants and other organisms on there to filter most the nasty stuff out and using that water as irrigation.

I honestly like your idea, but without some sort of heat source you're not going to get enough evaporation out of the sun on a scale that works for most people.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:42 am 
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Also you would have to insure any cleansers do not kill your bio-sand filter. Several types of hand and dish washing soaps are antibacterial and would kill off your beneficial microbes.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:29 am 
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Dbl post.

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Last edited by raptor on Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:44 am 
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I was also going to say the biggest issue will be the detergents in the washing machine and dishwasher. That said you could either by pass this effluent and treat it sepatately or simply call it black water and use it to dilute the black water.

The solar still would be the most difficult thing to incorporate. If the scale is large enough you could simply use a pool or spa sand filter. Though that would require a pump.

Still I could see the gray water going into a holding tank to let it settle and the solids to drop out and then when there was enough volume pumping the water through the sand filter into another process tank. You could then recirculate the water through the filter if necessary. Once clean enough dump that water into your sanitary sandfilter for further processing or simply use it for gray water use.

Honestly if you simply segregate the water for gray water use that would be the easiest and best use. That would simply require a holding tank and appropriate piping.

Now if you had free btus ,say from waste heat as you say, a steam distillation process would treat all of the water without issues. That said if the heat source is not free then the cost of steam distillation is very high.

If you Google steam distillation you can find lot of information especially in the marine world. The process is simple though there is a lot of art in the application.

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