Waterless Washing Machines
Consumers looking for ways on how to save water, energy, and money every time they wash their clothes will definitely love a waterless washing machine .
Fortunately, this idea is currently being perfected by Xeros Ltd. , a company that is developing a washing machine system, based on University of Leeds professor Stephen Burkinsaw's research. Burkinsaw was able to invent a coloring technology by using dye that is made of nylon polymer beads.
When Burkinsaw reversed this process, he discovered that these nylon polymer beads actually absorb stains and dirt from fabric when these beads are mixed with damp clothing items.
A closer look at the nylon polymer technology
Originally, Burkinsaw's focus of research was to improve the ability of coloring dyes to anchor its particles onto the fabric. He discovered that nylon polymer beads are the best medium to color fabric with dyes.
When this idea was reversed, Burkinsaw's research was used as the basis of the washing process behind Xeros' almost waterless washing machine. By recognizing that coloring dyes are just like stains, Burkinsaw and his research and development team formulated the concept of washing garments by simply using little water and by adding the nylon polymer beads into the detergent.
According to Stephen Burkinsaw and his group of researchers and scientists, nylon was the best type of polymer beads because of its property to become superabsorbent when mixed or tumbled with slightly damp clothing items or when used within humid conditions. Plus, nylon polymer beads were found out to be super resilient, making it possible to recycle these beads over and over again, without becoming less absorbent. This unique resiliency of nylon can be actually seen in nylon ropes used in ocean liners.
The virtually waterless cleaning process
The nylon polymer beads act like superabsorbent beads that absorb the stains from the fabric. With just a little bit of water to create humid conditions, the nylon polymer beads absorb stains right into its very core. Dirt and grime are not just attracted by the surface of the beads. They are absorbed into the core, resulting in cleaner and whiter fabric (for white garments). This is how Xeros plans to create an almost waterless washing machine.
The process, which is still under research and development, is similar to the cleaning process used by conventional washing machines. First, the garments to be washed are placed into the inner drum made of mesh. The wash cycle then begins as the nylon polymer beads and damp clothing items are tumbled inside the washing machine. Consumers won't have to worry about manually separating the nylon polymer beads from the fabric because the next step involves a drum in drum separation process. In this part, the beads are automatically separated from the garments as the outer drum stops rotating. It is projected that 99.95% of the beads are removed. The user can then just shake off any remaining beads or use a vacuum wand. The vacuum wand is included in the projected waterless washing machine design for complete convenience.
With the assistance of Cambridge consultants, this idea was adapted by Xeros Ltd. And after years of experimenting, Xeros was able to make a deal with GreenEarth Cleaning to manufacture waterless washing machines for consumer use. Unfortunately, the commercial production of this almost waterless washing machine is slated for 2010.
For consumers who want to take a sneak peek at what the virtually waterless washing machine of Xerox Ltd. can do for them, here are the possible benefits it can offer:
Because only a cup of water is needed in order to create humid conditions for the nylon polymer beads to work, an almost waterless washing machine by Xeros can help consumers save a lot of water. As a matter of fact, a waterless washing machine is projected to use 90% less water compared to traditional washing machines. According to Xeros, if all US households use a waterless washing machine, a total of 1.2 billion tons of H2O will be saved, an amount of water that can be used for more than 10 million swimming pools.
The use of a waterless washing machine can also reduce carbon footprints. This is because a waterless washing machine uses less energy, electricity, and detergent. If less and less people use tumble drying because of a waterless washing process for clothes, consumers can enjoy a total of 40% energy savings. And because nylon polymer beads can be recycled over and over again, the carbon footprint of this kind of washing machines is less compared to traditional washers. The reduced carbon footprint is like removing 5 million cars from the roads in the US.
It is projected that the Xeros waterless washing machine can help users save up to 30% for the direct operating costs. And because less water and electricity are used, consumers can save a lot on water and electricity bills. Huge energy savings result in lots of cost savings, making the waterless washing machine a very promising cleaning equipment not only to US users, but to consumers from all over the world as well.
Possible concern with the waterless washing machine
One concern behind the waterless washing machine is that the quality of the garments may be affected as a result of regular washing through the use of nylon polymer beads. Because constant washing with nylon polymer beads may result in virtually dry garments after the cleaning process, the fabric may become too dry and it may wear and tear sooner than expected. But according to CleanEarth Cleaning, this won't be an issue because preliminary tests show that there is no effect on the quality of the fabric. Comprehensive product tests on silk, delicate pieces of clothing, and embroidered garments have shown no negative effects when the nylon polymer beads were used to clean the clothing pieces.
Partnerships behind the waterless washing machine
Xeros Ltd. has formed a partnership with Professor Stephen Burkinsaw and his team of researchers and scientists at the University of Leeds, a leading textile institute in the UK. It has also partnered with GreenEarth Cleaning as Xeros plans to begin with the commercial production of the waterless washing machine at the end of 2010.
With possible benefits a waterless washing machine can offer to consumers from around the world, the Xeros waterless washing machine is definitely a wonder product that can help people save on energy and operation costs, and save Mother Earth in the process.
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