New Washing Machine Only Uses One Cup of Water
An environmentally friendly washing machine has been developed by the University of Leeds, Britain. The technology has been developed by Professor Stephen Burkinshaw of the University of Leeds. He has been working on this project for the past thirty years. This project had been funded by IP Group, an intellectual property commercialization group. The project team claims that this clean and green machine will just need a cup of water to wash clothes. It would be available in the market next year. But currently the washing machine will be available in hotels and dry cleaning outlets only.
A common consumer has to wait till it can reach his home. It is said that the machine could save billions of liters of water a year. Xeros is responsible for this revolutionary technology. Xeros has also entered into collaboration with GreenEarth Cleaning to sell the technology across North America. GreenEarth Cleaning is also into an environmentally friendly dry-cleaning business.
Right now the statistics say that this machine could perform the same task by using less than 90 per cent of the water of conventional machines and 30 per cent less energy. This machine can have the environmental impact of taking two million cars off the road.
How could that be possible? Here the work of water is replaced by using thousands of tiny reusable nylon polymer beads. These plastic beads attract and absorb dirt under humid conditions. Stephen Burkinshaw said: “We’ve shown that it can remove all sorts of everyday stains including coffee and lipstick while using a tiny fraction of the water used by conventional machines.”
How does this washing machine function? This technology requires a small amount of water and detergent to dampen the clothes and loosen stains. This device also creates the water vapor that allows the beads to work. Once washing is finished, the beads fall through a mesh in the machine’s drum. These beads are reusable. One can reuse them up to a hundred times. One needs 20kg of the beads along with a cup of water and detergent. The chips can be used up to 100 times, the equivalent of six months’ washing.
A demonstration was held at the Clean Show in New Orleans between June 18th and 21st. The beads are placed inside the smaller of two concentric drums along with the dirty laundry, a spew of detergent and a little water. As the drums spin, the water wets the clothes and the detergent gets to work loosening the dirt. Then the nylon beads mop it up.
The beads have a crystalline structure. This structure makes the surface of beads with an electrical charge that attracts dirt. When the beads are heated in humid conditions to the temperature they lose their crystalline structure and acquire an amorphous structure. Now the dirt is drawn into the core of the bead where it remains locked in place.
The whole process takes about 30 minutes and the outer drum stops rotating. The inner drum has the clothes and the beads. The inner drum also has a small slot. As it keeps on rotating, the beads fall through the slot; some 99.95% of them are collected in the outer drum. The remaining that are trapped in the folds of the clothes normally fall into a collection trough while the laundry is being removed, and a vacuum wand can be used to remove them from pockets etc.
Xeros chief executive Bill Westwater said: “We’ve got an eye on the consumer but it will take time and we hope commercial success could act as a springboard to move into the consumer market. We’ve been very encouraged by the response from people, but the proof is in the pudding and that means putting a machine into someone’s operations and justifying the savings.”
We can draw the conclusion that when so little water is used and the warm beads help dry the laundry, less tumble drying is needed. An environmental consultancy, URS Corp, estimates that this washing machine’s carbon footprint was 40% smaller than the most efficient existing systems for washing and drying laundry.