Sunday, 15 June 2008
Washing without water
Recently the University of Leeds announced that one of their spin-off companies, Xeros, is commercialising a process of washing (and dry-cleaning) clothes, first developed by researchers at the university.
Plastic granules are put into the machine with the clothes to remove dirt. Tests have shown that they remove stains as effectively as normal washing methods and clothes are left as fresh. They estimate the new method will use less than 2% of the water and energy of a conventional machine, and of course there is no need for a tumble dryer. They are hoping it will be available in 2009.
Presumably there will be no need for a fabric conditioner, nor will you be hanging the clothes on an outdoor line, so I'm wondering how fresh is "as fresh"? Nevertheless, the saving in water and electricity will make it very, very attractive.
They believe the process can also be used for dry-cleaning, removing the need for harmful solvents which are linked to certain types of cancer, a great step in improving safety.
How will the soap manufacturers react? Will they be offering to supply a bar of soap to the developing world if we buy 10 packets of washing powder?
University of Leeds press release.
Updated with a more recent press release.