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Saving precious water

Finalist for European Inventor Award 2010 in the “Industry” category

Conserve water – save the planet! To stop wastage from bathroom and kitchen taps without compromising on the comfort we have come to expect, German engineers Hermann Grether and Christoph Weis at Neoperl invented a water-jet regulator, marketed internationally by the German-Swiss company.

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At a glance

Inventors: Hermann Grether, Christoph Weis, Germany

Invention: jet regulator for water taps

Sector: sustainable water technology

Company: Neoperl

Clean drinking water is becoming an increasingly rare resource. Humans are already using more than 30% of the world's available fresh water supply. By 2025, the figure could climb to 70%, while water quality is increasingly threatened by pollution.

Large volumes of clean water go "down the drain" - quite literally - during everyday activities such as hand washing and showering.

To save water right at the source, German engineers Hermann Grether and Christoph Weis developed an "aerator" that mixes water with air and, in doing so, allows savings to be made and improves water‑flow quality. What is more, it is mountable in the opening of any conventional tap.

The aerator design uses an elegantly simple trick: the water jet is first accelerated before being slowed down again by a series of plastic mesh plates, and divided up before the individual streams are eventually merged back into one. At the same time air is added, making the stream more voluminous while using less water.

Before the invention, aerators relied on expensive metal inserts. But the plastic plates developed by Grether and Weis are not only cheaper, they also perform better, resulting in a softer water stream with less splashing.

Since 2003, aerators based on this invention have been marketed in 60 countries around the world by Neoperl.

According to Development magazine, the new aerators can save up to 50% of the water drawn from kitchen and bathroom taps in private households every month. Neoperl currently produces over 100 million aerators per year, and is among the international market leaders in the field.

In 2008, the company reported sales of more than EUR 130 million and employed 600 people at six manufacturing sites in Europe, the USA and Asia, as well as using distribution companies in all key markets.

With 30 years' experience under his belt, Hermann Grether works on technical design and innovation at Neoperl. Christoph Weis heads the company's research and development department.

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