Friday 19th June, 2009
New concept washing machine reduces water usage by 90%
Xeros, the revolutionary polymer based cleaning company, and Cambridge Consultants have developed the world’s first ‘virtually waterless’ laundry washing machine prototype. By saving up to 90% of water compared to conventional machines, the Xeros process has the potential to reduce the cost of washing whilst also dramatically cutting carbon emissions.
The Xeros approach to cleaning clothes is fundamentally different from conventional washing machines. By replacing the majority of the water with reusable nylon polymer beads, the machine is able to clean clothes in less time than traditional machines, using 30% less energy and significantly less detergent than normally required. The electricity saving is increased further by reducing the need to tumble dry, assuming the end user currently does this in addition to washing.
The discovery that certain types of polymer beads could be used as a cleaning agent was made by Professor Stephen Burkinshaw, from the University of Leeds. Whilst the technology had been proven in a laboratory environment, various hurdles still needed to be addressed in order to commercialise the technology. The Cambridge Consultants team was asked to prove the efficacy of the cleaning technology once scaled to a commercial product, and then to work out how the beads could be effectively removed from the damp clothes at the end of each cycle. In only six months, the Cambridge Consultants team was able to successfully demonstrate both principles in action, and developed an initial demonstrator.
To prove the technology’s environmental credentials, Xeros commissioned an independent Life Cycle Assessment from URS Corporation. Their report found that the process has the potential to display a significantly smaller carbon footprint than that of a conventional wash. For the UK alone, it offers a positive environmental impact equivalent to taking 2 million cars off the road.
“Whilst we are still at a relatively early stage of this development, we have demonstrated that it is possible to develop a commercially viable washing machine that is capable of delivering all the benefits that Xeros expects from its revolutionary technology,” commented Nathan Wrench, programme manager at Cambridge Consultants. He continued, “We are truly excited about the potential this technology could have on reducing the environmental impact of washing.”
Xeros aims to have a commercially viable product in production by the end of 2010. The company’s first target will be the commercial washing market, including hotels, care homes, and high street washing outlets. Downstream, the company will look to license the technology to domestic machine manufacturers, enabling them to capture the considerably larger domestic market. The global market for laundry products next year is expected to reach around $50 billion.
Bill Westwater, CEO of Xeros, commented, “With pressure building globally for consumers to cut down both on water usage and greenhouse emissions, the time is right for a new range of devices that help us all reduce the environmental impact of washing without compromising the cleaning results we all expect. Clearly there is much pressure to get a working product into the market and I’m delighted with the speed in which Cambridge Consultants have managed to get us to this key milestone.”
Xeros is a start-up from the University of Leeds, and is backed by lead investor, IP Group plc.
Cambridge Consultants develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology critical issues for clients worldwide. For more than 50 years, the company has been helping its clients turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether they are launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through the introduction of new technologies. With a team of more than 380 staff, including engineers, scientists, mathematicians and designers, in offices in Cambridge (UK), Boston (USA) and Singapore, Cambridge Consultants offers solutions across a diverse range of industries including medical technology, industrial and consumer products, transport, energy, cleantech and wireless communications.
Cambridge Consultants is part of Altran, a global leader in innovation and high-tech engineering consulting which supports companies in the creation and development of their new products and services. With a staff of 20,000 employees in more than 20 countries, the Group generated revenues of €1,456m in 2012. For more information visit: www.altran.com
Xeros® Ltd is a new company focused on the development of ‘virtually waterless’ clothes cleaning. Harnessing over 30 years of research by Stephen Burkinshaw and the University of Leeds, Xeros is the brand name for a patented technology that creates step change advantage in the cost and environmental impact of aqueous wash cleaning. The name Xeros and the slogan “The power of polymer cleaning” are registered service marks of Xeros, Ltd.
Please visit www.xerosltd.com for more information about the Xeros technology.
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