That filtered rainwater system is a crucial component in achieving home-like comfort within the Ecocapsule. In addition, the top of the shell is integrated with high-efficiency solar cells capable of providing up to 600 watts of power. A wind turbine mounted on a foldable pole can deliver another 750 watts, day or night. In the absence of sun or wind, a fully-charged battery can provide electric power for at least four days. In other words, hot showers, good lighting and warm meals don’t have to be a distant dream for occupants of the Ecocapsule.
The Ecocapsule remains an evolving concept, with 50 exclusive models based on the original prototype for sale today. The first prototype took 2½ months to produce, Zacek says. In 2014, the production process began with a 3-D model from the designers that was transferred to CNC machines operated by JAG, the Slovakia-based composite fabricator producing the units. Manufacturing shells for these unique mobile homes isn’t a far stretch for a company that specializes in the production of GFRP components for boats, trains and other vehicles.
For the prototype, JAG used a hand layup process to manufacture the fiberglass and polyester resin shell in three main components – the bottom, left top and right top – as well as doors and certain interior components, such as the bathroom unit. (Future versions are expected to use vacuum infusion.) Fabricators place several layers of fiberglass and polyester resin over an aluminum framework to create the lightweight shell.
Once the form is finished, other systems are assembled by hand. This includes electric components, the water management system, floor heating and, of course, interior carpentry and finishes. Furniture, including a desk and various cabinets, is made from lightweight honeycomb panels with a wood veneer finish. And what wilderness retreat would be complete without a smart home system and 4G coverage? The result is an efficient kitchenette, a foldout sleeping area and creative storage solutions. Empty, the mobile home weighs about 2,600 pounds.
Zacek says the team hopes to complete its small-scale production goal – about 50 units – at a speed of more than five homes a month. Mass production is planned for 100 units per month and doesn’t seem far off. The company has received more than 15,000 emails, with interest primarily from individuals. However, Ecocapsule is now in negotiations with hotels interested in using the comfortable pods as onsite cabins.