New Washing Machine Technology

A new laundry method could see washing machines cut water usage in a normal laundry by 90%. This will become a major feature in the next coming years and could be available by the end of 2011. The device replaces water with tiny plastic beads and would see households save a significant amount on energy bills.

Modern washing machines have developed several energy efficient feature in recent years, including more detailed wash load settings as well as more sophisticated electrical mechanisms to heat the water. But around 95% of the electricity consumed by washing machines is still used to heat water. Less water means less power, which is why the new beaded technology will change the market all together. The process involves 3mm-long beads flooding the machine's drum and circulating through the crevices and folds of your dirty clothes. The beads then drain, like water, back into the washing machine. The beads will last for a great number of washes. But when the beads are at the end of their life they can be collected and recycled.

To some extent, integrated washing machines have made some progress in energy efficiency while washer dryers have combined two appliances into one. Many top loading washing machines are using close to 40 gallon per cycle. The mechanisms of these appliances are also energy deficient. An agitator sits in the centre of the tub and pulls down and then allows them to float up again. Unlike an agitator, front-loading machines have a tilted drum which spins itself. With a heavier reliance on gravity, front-loading appliances do use less water. However, 10 to 24 gallons is still excessive in terms of the beaded device. Washing clothes amounts to 15% of all household water usage. If the whole of the UK converted to the new beaded technology the carbon emissions saved would be similar to removing 1.4m cars off the road.


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