Keeping a Beady Eye on the Wash
08 Sep 2009
A washing machine has been developed at the University of Leeds, which uses only 10 per cent of the amount of water required by a conventional machine.
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A washing machine has been developed at the University of Leeds, which uses only 10 per cent of the amount of water required by a conventional machine. The process involves many tiny nylon beads being tumbled in with the clothes. Firstly, the small amount of water and detergent used dissolves the dirt. This is then absorbed by the beads, which the washing machine’s inner and outer drum system distributes and collects.
Tests have proved that the technology performs to top industry standards and removes stains as effectively as a normal wash, leaving clothes just as fresh. An additional advantage of the new system is that, due to the dramatically lessened amount of water, clothes finish the cycle almost dry. Further energy can then be saved through the reduced need for any tumble-drying. Energy is also conserved at the start of the cycle because less water needs to be heated.
Waterwise, an organisation working to decrease wastage in the UK, has reported that washing machines account for 13 per cent of our daily household water consumption. This amounts to about 445 million litres a day ñ enough to fill 145 Olympic-sized swimming pools! With water becoming an increasingly scarce resource, the value of saving 90 per cent ñ which this technology is promising to do ñ is clear. The reduction in water and energy use would also translate into financial benefits for consumers through smaller utility bills.
The technology is now being commercialised by Xeros Ltd. It is hoped that it could be made available this year to the dry cleaning industry, before reaching the domestic markets. With some of the chemicals currently used in dry cleaning services being brought into question as potentially harmful to humans, Xeros’ new technology is also providing a much safer option.
Contact: Xeros Limited,
Leeds Innovation Centre,
103 Clarendon Road, Leeds, LS2 9DF
Left: the special nylon beads used in Xeros’s new washing machine technology
Photo: © Xeros
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