José Manuel Díaz, Eduardo Dueñas, Juan Francisco Cáliz and Samuel Tirado:: sur
The Dolphin system is a simple but effective way of making hot water flow instantly from taps without wasting litres first
The young engineers from Malaga who are behind Métrica6 Ingeniería y Desarrollos S.L - a start-up company which won the last ‘spin-off’ prize from the University - plan to start manufacturing a device known as ‘Dolphin’ in May. This is a system that provides immediate hot water from a tap without several litres of water having to be run off first; this achieves a much more efficient use of water and an average saving of 23 per cent of the water bill.
That figure can rise to 40 per cent in a home occupied by two adults and two children: with a waiting time of 50 seconds before the hot water starts to flow, they would waste 14,400 litres a year while a home with only one occupant would waste 3,600 litres.
Washing and showering are the daily routines in which the greatest savings can be made, but the new device will also allow buckets to be filled with immediate hot water for cleaning, or saucepans for cooking.
The water-saving device could eliminate the need for an electrical element to heat water in dishwashers and washing machines, because it would come directly from the water heater. The first Dolphin prototypes are being tested this month in a dozen homes in Malaga. Owners will provide the company with information in exchange for being provided with the device free of charge. The creators are also working on a special version for buildings such as hotels, hospitals, industries, gymnasiums, etc.
Dolphin works by recirculating the water in the pipes, a method which is already used in large buildings but which needs a complete double circuit for hot water. The Dolphin patent allows this circulation to be carried out without any works being involved, by simply connecting the cold and hot water pipes by means of a ‘bypass’ in a tap with access to both conduits. The hot water is therefore permanently circulating from the water heater to the tap and back again, so the pipes do not get cold.
To generate this recirculation, as well as the anti-return valve which is used in any domestic installation, the device is completed by a small electric pump of barely 45 watts and a negligible power consumption, and a push button that allows the water to be used when the sensor shows that the desired temperature has been reached. These three elements, which transmit information wirelessly, permit a water saving that is beneficial to the environment as well as reducing bills.
The developers of Dolphin already have private investment for the manufacturing phase in Malaga. The system will mainly be sold over the internet and the price is expected to be around 250 euros. The company expects to sell 400 in 2014, 800 in the second year and 1,200 in the third. These sales exclusively refer to those of the present Dolphin system, not to products for other applications such as more powerful units for combined boilers.
Constant innovation is the objective of the young people behind this project; they began as a team of four engineers but soon there will be seven of them.
“Métrica6 was born as an engineering studio and that is how we want it to continue. We believe that the success of Dolphin will give us the ability to work on other lines of research,” explains Eduardo Dueñas, who is the CEO of Métrica6 and a researcher into nanotechnology on a project for Malaga University.
Among other services, Métrica6 offers structural analysis, machine design, project planning and technical reports, energy certification and general technical consultancy.